The wedding planning season

Just as there are wedding seasons, there are wedding planning seasons. 25 percent of engagements happen between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and another 12 percent happen on Valentine’s Day. There are certain times of the year where lots of newly engaged couples are entering the marketplace.

Thanks to some combination of tradition, advice, books, and magazines, most couples follow a similar timeline when planning their wedding. You’ve seen the lists that tell the couple what needs to be done 12 months out, 6 months out, etc. Some decisions are made early on and some are made closer to the wedding. To successfully sell to the engaged couple, you need to find out where your business falls in the wedding planning timeline and time your sales efforts accordingly.

Where does your business fall on the timeline?

Do a little bit of research. Determine when the typical customer first contacts you. Is it 8 months before the wedding, 6 months, 2 months? We sometimes get panic calls two weeks before a wedding. We sometimes get calls for weddings that are two years out, even before the engagement, where they want to get a head start. Look at the typical lead time, and then you will know the best time for you to reach the couple.

Here’s how most wedding pros do it:

After a couple attends a bridal show, or after the bridal magazines send out their monthly lead list, the couple usually gets a bunch of mail and email at the same time, and most of it looks as if the business rushed to get it out as quickly and as cheaply as possible. A lot of businesses take a shot at marketing to mailing lists, but they get overwhelmed with the process, don’t do it right, don’t get results, and then they give up.

There’s a better way

There is a much more effective way of marketing to a mailing list.

  • Take all of the lists you receive and compile them into a single database or spreadsheet.
  • Sort the list by wedding date.
  • Take out the duplicates and your sold out dates.
  • Each month, contact only those prospects who have weddings that are 8 months away, 6 months away, 3 months away, depending on the lead time that is typical for your business.

By dividing your prospect list into manageable pieces, you can then concentrate on making a great impression on a smaller number of prospective customers. By reaching them at the time that they are most likely to be ready to buy what you sell, your efforts will have the greatest impact.

Timetables are changing

Keep in mind that the wedding planning timetable is shorter than ever. Why is that? The shortened planning timetable represents a permanent shift of the typical couple’s buying habits. Today’s couple has grown up doing lots of things online. They are used to doing quick research and making quick decisions. You can go to Zappos, look at thousands of shoes, place your order, and have the shoes on your feet the next day. It’s simply not in the consumer’s mindset to purchase things months and months in advance. You might think that they are calling at the last minute, but they don’t see it that way. To be successful, you need to adjust your wedding marketing so you are prepared to sell on the couple’s timeline.

Marc McIntosh is the producer of the Wedding Experience, the leading wedding shows in the Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond markets. The Wedding Experience provides the opportunity to promote your business through face-to-face contact with a large audience of motivated buyers. For information, call 703-425-1127, email or visit