Virtual, digital, shipped and socially distanced: wedding businesses are using technology to pivot during COVID. By going digital (or virtual), wedding businesses are adapting to meet their clients’ needs — and the results have been inventive and exciting!
This unprecedented wedding season has forced many wedding pros to rethink their business model and to update their operating procedures. The goal is to keep couples planning, paying, and moving forward.
MANY WEDDING BUSINESSES ARE GETTING AN UPDATE
Venue tours, dress buying, makeup, cake tasting, and the list goes on. These seemingly simple events were no longer possible during the height of COVID. And even now, they don’t look the same as before.
It’s safe to say that, along with the entire world, the pandemic has forever changed the wedding industry. Even if things get back to a kind of normal, wedding businesses are changed just by the experience of knowing how quickly the impact can come.
This knowledge has also created some exciting opportunities for wedding businesses. Being forced to think outside the box is helping to bring innovation to how products and services are delivered.
HOW WEDDING BUSINESSES ARE USING TECHNOLOGY TO PIVOT DURING COVID
From drone photography and live streaming ceremonies to virtual makeup tutorials and venue tours, wedding businesses are using technology to adapt to the impact of COVID — and serve their clients even better during uncertain times.
Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites —
Personalized Virtual Wedding Dress Shopping
Brides can now get a celebrity-style shopping experience with virtual wedding dress shopping. Many boutiques are now offering virtual experiences that include FaceTime or Zoom calls, a personalized wedding dress gallery online, and everything they would need to try on dresses in the comfort of their home-delivered curbside with a few treats to make things even more fun!
For Krysta York, owner of Charlotte’s Weddings in Oregon, the primary goal was to keep business moving while still having that personal connection. The virtual appointments are scheduled for FaceTime or Zoom. Stylists guide brides through the available dresses in their inventory where they select up to 5 styles for curbside pickup and return within four days. Brides get everything to help them enjoy their try-on session including a clip kit for fitting, a complimentary bottle of champagne, and an I Said Yes to the Dress sign — in case they find the one! The full process requires a security deposit of $150 per dress — which is refunded except for the at-home try-on fee.
Virtual gown shopping has been successful for Charlotte’s Weddings and their virtual dress shopping clients, like Madi —
“…I was able to run and grab the gowns on Wednesday afternoon and tried them on that evening. I had my mom come over to help me in and out of the gowns, and I was on a Zoom call with my best friend/Maid of Honor, my sister-in-law/bridesmaid, and my step-mom. I got to say YES to the dress! They send you home with a little kit of clips and a cute sign for if you pick out a gown, which was super thoughtful. On Thursday afternoon, I had another follow-up call with Stephanie and she was so happy for me!”
(You can read the rest of her experience on their blog post here.)
Virtual Venue Tours with a Fresh Twist
Venues have been offering more virtual tours online in the last decade with the 360-degree walkthrough, but during COVID, many venues took things up a notch with more comprehensive walk-through tours online showcasing details and potential design opportunities in the space.
Other venues offered more technical-style tours with interactive content that allows viewers to see what materials certain areas were made of and the overall style explanation.
At Running Y Resort in Oregon, Sales Manager, and Wedding Coordinator, Kim Abel virtually walks couples through the entire property and highlights helpful features such as how their venue’s walkways are double the average size to allow for the bride and her escort plenty of space to be side by side and all the necessary details of each potential event space.
Videographer Tom Bowen of Bowen Films decided to help couples out by creating beautiful virtual tours of popular local venues in the Washington D.C. area.
He told his local news station that he and his team did this to support the venues in DC and help couples be able to keep planning. Bowen’s team blends both footage of the empty space as well as clips from previous weddings they’ve filmed there so couples can get an idea of what it could look like. He is also able to offer the service to venues at a highly discounted rate, free in some cases, and they don’t have to pay until their weddings get started again.
Live Streaming Services Are the New Norm
Whether couples are having a completely virtual wedding or simply wanting to share the experience with the many people that can’t be there due to restrictions, live streaming services are the new norm. From venues to videographers, wedding pros are including this upsell on their list of packages.
Photo courtesy of Camelot Ranch
Venues like Camelot Ranch in Montana used this time as an opportunity to add a high-quality live-streaming service. They are partnering with a local production and audio company, DiA Events, to create live-stream packages for couples including the cameras, audio equipment, and socially safe set up. This is meant to help couples continue their weddings as planned and as part of this package with live streaming, Camelot has also offered a free reception date when gatherings are possible again.
Virtual Wedding Coordination
While virtual weddings may not always be needed, they have given rise to a budding new section of the wedding industry including — virtual wedding coordination. That’s both coordination of virtual weddings — and virtual coordination.
Modern Rebel & Co in NYC offers to help couples rewrite the rules when it comes to their wedding. During COVID, they have taken this approach virtual. From helping family members that aren’t comfortable with social media platforms to coordinating online receptions or dance parties — as well as contactless deliveries of bouquets or finding a tiny cake for your celebration with a quick delivery turnaround, these guys are working to blaze a new trail in the virtual wedding space.
This is probably one of the most fun technology trends we are seeing in the wedding industry. From restaurants to catering companies, these wedding businesses are pivoting during COVID by creating online ordering or delivery options. These come with plans or tips for how to host your own virtual get together with friends.
Catering Works has created virtual wine tasting boxes or parties in a box that can be delivered or picked up curbside.
WHAT WEDDING BUSINESSES SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THIS SEASON
Clients are willing to pay for online consultations, tutorials, one-on-one services, and more.
Before COVID, there was the impression that any online content had to be free or discounted, but post-COVID, customers are now well-acquainted with paying full-value for online services.
You may need to update your technology to better serve your customers — and stay ahead of the curve.
Now is a good time to review your operations and see where technology could help your business. This may be as simple as a little update in your process on your website that reduces redundant question answering or even makes your website work for you by gathering more information from prospective customers. It may be that virtual tours or paid online class platforms may be something you need to develop. In unprecedented times, the same reasons don’t always apply, so where an update was out of the question before or seemed needless — it might now be necessary.
If it would help to talk things out with someone, consider reaching out to our sister company, Brandlink Media — a digital agency that specializes in working with wedding businesses. And don’t miss out on our growing library of resources to help wedding businesses — such as learning the basics of Google Console or how to create an emergency plan for your wedding business.
There are opportunities everywhere — even during unprecedented times.
This hasn’t been an easy time for our industry, but it’s full of opportunities. Wedding businesses that focus on solving problems and finding ways to better serve their couples are still able to win. For venues that weren’t able to get couples inside, they paired with videographers to create customized virtual tours — or offer live streaming services for couples who can’t have their entire wedding guest list with them. This, in turn, opened up opportunities to work with planners and gift curators to send wedding kits to guests or for calligraphers to create new types of wedding announcements. Even something as simple as micro-groups of wedding pros getting together to offer completely furnished wedding days for COVID couples is a creative opportunity.
We’ve seen wedding businesses successfully pivoting during this season — and we’re excited to see how technology and creativity bring even more innovation to the wedding industry in the coming years!
People will always need joy in their lives and that’s something the wedding industry specializes in. (Check out the ways we’ve seen the wedding industry spreading joy during COVID-19.)
The future is bright for wedding businesses and the entire industry because it’s made up of people who care about the little things — and care about people.
Written by Corrie McGee