Lessons Learned at Charleston Wedding Week

If you had been watching my Instagram over the past week, then you know I was busy attending Charleston Wedding Week. Visiting and throwing some of the events, it was a week jammed packed with parties, panels, and cocktails. Today on The Petal Report, I wanted to touch on the lessons learned as well as the tips I received from some of the wedding experts. Scroll on as you are about to get the inside scoop, y’all!

Me with Beth Chapman.

Wednesday, January 24th: Insiders’ Guide to Branding & Marketing at The Dewberry

Welcomed into the Dewberry with a color palette of orange and a mimosa in hand (they know the way into any wedding gals heart) I sat in their stunning ballroom to learn from Jess Levin of Carats & Cake, Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York and Leslie Mann from Mark Ingram Atelier. Managing large brands and tackling all things marketing, I took extensive notes on the tips and insight they gave to us.

  • Define three to five buzz words that define you and your brand and keep those keywords in mind with everything you do. Before posting an image on social media or accepting a client, think if this fits within those terms you set for yourself. If they don’t make sense to you, they are most certainly not going to make sense to your followers. Be sure to always stay true to you and your brand! Don’t put things into the universe that you do not want to do. One of Ceci’s examples was- if you decide to take on Tonka Truck as a client, that is a wonderful connection but do not post it in relation to your brand as it does not fit within your wedding empire.
  • One note I think most of you know, but if not, here you go- make sure to make your brand personal. Your clients want to know who you are, what your passions are and why you do what you do. So don’t be afraid to add a picture (or two) of you throughout your feed to make you seem like an actual human (and not an Instagram machine). Touching on this topic, if you have a website, be sure to include an image of yourself on the about page. Seems like first steps in marketing but there are some who want their brand to stand on it’s own without you included, which can ultimately hurt your company.
  • Always work to create relationships within your community. Helping other wedding vendors (or companies within your industry) will always help your brand and never hurt it. Make sure to go out and meet others within your industry as that will only build your standing within your district. With creating lasting relationships, hopefully those “competitors” will think to recommend you if they are booked or not the right fit for that client reaching out to them!
  • As many of us know, I am sure, Instagram is becoming the new Google. Customers are going to this social media platform to search for the services or products they are in need of. So make sure your social media handles make sense with your brand and communicate exactly what you want and who you want to work with!

I was very intent on the lessons being given Shout out to Olive & Ivory Photography for the sneak pic!

Friday, January 26th: Beth Chapman Book Signing at Kate McDonald Bridal

I had the opportunity to coordinate an event that was held in Beth Chapman’s honor for the release of her new book, The White Dress: Destinations, at Kate McDonal Bridal’s lovely studio in downtown Charleston. I will have a whole blog post featuring this event at a later date but wanted to include it in my Charleston Wedding Week round-up as it was on the agenda for this very busy week. Stay tuned for the beautiful, professional images Emily Ann Hughes captured of this lovely morning event.

Fun balloons from Cannonborough Collective!

How to Get Famous- Publishing Tips From the Pros at The Cedar Room

Following my mini meet and greet at Kate McDonald Bridal it was off to The Cedar Room to learn from some of the wedding industry’s top editors of how to get your work published. I was so looking forward to this as getting my work published is high on the priority list (after getting my happy couples married, of course!). So with that, I grabbed my Strawberry Smash and sat down at the beautifully designed event space by Loluma Events and listened to: Lisa Gooder, executive director of Brides, Darcy Miller, editor-at-large of Martha Stewart Weddings, Ashley Rockman, executive relationships editor at HuffPost, Kimberly Fusaro, former editor of weddings at Glamour, Corbin Gurkin, esteemed wedding photographer, and Carrie Goldberg, travel and weddings editor at Harpers Bazaar give their insight on all things publishing. With every publication having a different perspective and vision for their sites, it was interesting to get the opinions from each member and what they are looking for.

  • Brides– the magazine’s sole focus is that of authenticity. They are looking for photos to be real and featuring memorable moments in which you feel as though you are there with them. Photo style is very important to them and something they take into consideration with every submission they feature. When it comes to their blog, they tend to take one certain detail from the big day and expand on it to create the whole story.
  • HuffPost– is all about the story. Whether the event happened yesterday or five years ago, they are looking for a killer story to feature within their spreads. Of course the photos are important and are those added details to the story’s unfolding, but without a killer hook in it, they are less likely to put it on their site. Plus, HuffPost is always looking for vendor experts to credit and work with on certain stories so keep that in mind when looking to be featured in one way or another.
  • One fact I found to be very interesting was when each publication would want you to pitch your story to them. Brides will not accept a wedding until they see the images from it but Martha Stewart Weddings would like to be involved in the design and creation of the big day. If you are looking to have your wedding featured on their pages, they recommend you reach out once you have a venue and some vendors lined up and have a vision in mind that they can expand on. All other publications require the images from the actual event to be created before they will guarantee a feature on their sites.
  • The question we all wonder after you get the final images back from your shoot or event…can we share on social media? The old rule was to keep those photos under rap until after the feature goes live. The guidelines seem to be changing. If you are a smaller brand yourself, sharing those images on your social media handles may act as a teaser for when the real thing comes out on a bigger publication. Don’t over share of course, but (some) will allow you to share those sneak peek pics and still feature the big event.
  • When it comes to being featured, there are many ways to have you and your work out there than just a real wedding post or a styled shoot feature. They recommend reaching out to them with unique pitches that would make them want to work with you! Have the perfect idea for an Instastory or Facebook post? Send them the hook and story and make it irresistible. They appreciate the guidance in a story you have in mind that they can build off of.
  • Another thing I learned which I found to be disappointing was that they are not as interested in featuring styled shoots as I wish they would be. They prefer to have the real weddings with the intimate details of how it all came together. If they are looking to feature a styled shoot, they would much rather have their hands in the planning and design process in order to add it to their editorial calendars. They view styled shoots as a great way to build your portfolio and to work out a vision you have in your mind for wedding design. They noted that styled shoots can sometimes feel unrealistic as in reality creating a whole wedding with the design you have for a single table can be absurdly expensive and impractical. Disappointing, but certainly helpful!
  • A note on real weddings and a tip Carrie Goldberg gave was that hair and makeup can kill a submission. If they get a stunning wedding with a gorgeous couple but the hair and makeup is not up to par, they will have to decline that event. Definitely noted for future weddings and recommendations I send…(although, all of my fabulous HMU vendors are da bomb.com!)
  • When it comes to planning out the submission of a real wedding, it is best to get the details of the big day photographed beforehand. For instance, reach out to the photographer weeks beforehand to see if you can drop off some of the details (paper goods, rings, wedding shoes, etc.) for them to be photographed before the big day has arrived. That way, the photographer’s sole attention can be on the couple on the actual wedding day but you know those key images that are used for submissions have been perfected beforehand.

Mercantile & Mash for the win on the cocktails!

Designer Night at Lowndes Grove Plantation

My last event to attend was the Designer Night at Lowndes Grove Plantation where my mother was in attendance with me. We had the best time watching some of Charleston’s gorgeous designer gowns walk the catwalk with a mojito (thanks PPHG!) in hand. The various designers included Emily Kotarski Bridal, Modern Trousseau, Made with Love at Lovely Bride, and Mason Hosker and let me just say, everything was stunning. The talent behind these ladies is always awe-inspiring and I felt so lucky to be in the audience as their designs walked past. Fox Events transformed the space with fringe installations hung from the ceiling and custom drapery by Underneath the Veil hid the models from view. It was certainly the perfect ending to a crazy, amazing week!

The wedding dress designer herself with her fiance, myself and our friend, Britt Bates!