Tuesday 19 September 2017

Wedding planning – offline vs online

Organising a wedding has traditionally been a real world, physical process where brides hit the high street, bridal stores and wedding events. Brides traditionally visit bridal stores to find their perfect wedding dress and often have numerous fittings so that it fits them perfectly. Grooms have to try on suits or have tailored suits with several suit fittings. Wedding venues are visited to find that ideal location to celebrate saying 'I do'. Wedding cake samples and reception menus are tried to find the tastiest wedding food for the reception. Unless you have a wedding planner, organising a wedding is traditionally a feet on the ground operation where brides and their loved ones have to go out and about to get everything bought, booked and planned for their big day.

But in this technology driven, internet enabled world we live in where people are becoming ever more reliant on the digital world how has planing a wedding changed? Is planning a wedding moving from real life reality into a virtual era? Are new technologies and social media apps helping the wedding industry and wedding planning transition into the digital world?

The trend of online shopping vs high street shopping can be seen as many people opt to shop from the comfort of their own home. Approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online in the last 12 months – with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017. As online sales increase it is only natural that buying wedding products online may become the new tradition. The question is how has technology and an increase in people opting to shop online changed wedding planning and what does this mean for wedding suppliers?

With this in mind Angelic Diamonds, retailer of unique solitaire engagement rings and bespoke wedding rings discuss whether it’s time for the industry to plunge into the digital world in order to survive.

Will the future of wedding planning be digital?
As many companies strive to stay ahead of the competition and grab a slice of the digital, online action to stay successful and appealing to customers by going digital with their business, does the wedding industry have to enter the digital world to flourish?

The digital world has in fact already had a huge influence on wedding planning. Thanks to social media accounts such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, engaged couples are inundated with wedding inspiration for their big day. These social media apps allow them to be inspired and find the perfect wedding ideas for them with just a few clicks from the comfort of their own home. Thanks to the convenience and wealth of inspiration that the digital world offers it is no suprise that modern couples are now using new technology when wedding planning. In fact, 42% of people use social media to plan their wedding – with 41% of brides following photographers on social media, 37% of brides following venues and 14% following florists.

According to The Huffington Post, around 6 out of 10 brides are actively planning their weddings through their mobile device: they research gowns (61% of brides, up from 27% in 2011), search for wedding vendors (57% of brides, up from 22% in 2011), find wedding bands, florists and other wedding suppliers online and can organise, schedule and keep track of appointments and purchases on their mobile device. The digital world's influence on weddings goes further than just the planning of the wedding – couples announce wedding dates online, share photographs of their big day on social media and over a quarter of today’s modern couples (27%) said they would create a hashtag for their special day.

The beauty of the digital world and social media is not only is it a wonderful way for modern couples to be inspired by wedding ideas but it is also a fantastic platform for those in the wedding industry such as wedding planners, venues, florists, bakers and other wedding suppliers to showcase what they have to offer.

Instagram and Pinterest, which is used by 64% of brides and is the top social media apps that engaged couples opt for when looking for wedding inspiration. They are a digital alternative to a wedding fair. With social media playing such a successful role in inspiring couples it is worth wedding suppliers who have not yet invested time into creating a social media profile for their business doing so otherwise they risk missing out on free exposure.

Can the wedding industry survive offline?
Fortunately for the wedding industry it is not all doom and gloom, the digital world does not have to be the kiss of death to those offline as there is a way that they can survive offline in the future. Whilst it is beneficial for companies to go digital and up to date with the latest technologies to help keep them current and ahead of competition, there will hopefully always be a place for them offline within the industry.

Whilst there are lots of benefits to using digital technologies when planning a wedding there is still a need for physical processes. Couples organising their wedding need to see and experience many things in person. Venues, food tasting, wedding dress and suit fittings. Social media can help inspire couples and allow them to connect with suppliers but there are at times where face-to-face interaction is needed. As such those in the wedding industry might struggle to operate solely online. This need for a physical process means wedding companies can survive offline.

There is a reason that wedding fairs have been around for centuries they are a great way for suppliers to engage face-to-face with couples. Whilst social media is great for visual inspiration and initial contact as a wedding can be the biggest day of a couple's lives it is important to speak face-to-face with suppliers and physically see products.

The digital age cannot be ignored especially with the trend of couples turning to social media as a source of inspiration and a way to help ease the wedding planning process. However the traditional, real life, face-to-face, physical methods of wedding planning still has its place in wedding planning now and in the future. Combing both offline and online is a great way for wedding businesses to thrive and gain more exposure.


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