In recent weeks, we’ve seen the industry shift to experiment with new ideas in order to continue booking weddings while social distancing guidelines are in place. While most couples are rescheduling their weddings for dates when they can proceed with a large gathering, we are also seeing many couples honor their original dates with a miniwedding or microwedding. These changes have challenged industry pros to think differently about their business and innovate on their existing offerings in order to create new revenue opportunities. Our conversations with pros have been so inspirational that we wanted to bring the details of these new ideas directly to our WeddingPro community live on Instagram.
Our conversation was with Lauren Schaefer, founder of The Get Together Events Co. From clarifying your services to holding tight to your network, here are the top takeaways from our chat.
Takeaway: Play Into Your Strengths
Lauren and her team came up with a new product called, “COVID Coordination.” But that product didn’t occur to her in a vacuum— it was really a natural progression. “The covid coordinator came out of working with my clients and helping them reschedule, postpone whatever they needed to do— helping them go through that process,” says Lauren. “Normally we are only working with clients 30 days prior to their weddings. So we were helping those clients that we had during that time frame. But then once we realized this was something we were going to be in for a while, I just realized that there was more of a need for what I was doing than just for those clients.”
What That Looks Like: For Lauren and the team, it started out primarily as postponement services. They would help their clients juggle all of their wedding vendors to try to find a new date and deal with updating contracts.”But now as things evolved, we’re offering zoom weddings, micro weddings, whatever that new iteration of what a wedding is for a couple,” she says. “And then what’s awesome is we started to offer it to people who have never been in the Weddings by Lauren sphere before. So it’s been really great to work with clients all over the country.”
Takeaway: It’s Possible to Go Beyond Your Target Client
Instead of solely focusing on the clients that usually come her way (for her it’s Nashville, Chicago and New York), Lauren and the team broadened their potential client base to other places across the country– knowing that those clients would be a little bit different than the ones they were used to working with. “So for many of those couples, they’re working with venues that are often full-service,” she says. “So there’s a wedding coordinator on site, or they might not have planned on having a wedding coordinator.”
What That Looks Like: Getting the word out has been fairly simple for Lauren because she’s leaned into her client base for help. “It’s a snowball effect,” she says. “I have a client who has a friend who’s getting married in Wisconsin and realizes I could help her. And then I’m emailing vendors for this wedding in Wisconsin and so then all of the vendors in Wisconsin know about me.” Beyond word of mouth, she’s using the usual suspects like social media and her website. One note she adds here is that when you do put it on your website, make sure that all of the information is super easy and digestible for everyone to read and understand.
Takeaway: Make Sure Your New Services Are Clearly Defined
“I am very clear with the client up front what my services regarding COVID coordination include,” she says. “Right now under the COVID Coordinator umbrella, I’m offering a kind of ala carte service based on what people need. So if they want me to communicate to their guests for them, that’s one thing. Obviously finding the date and the postponement, that’s something else. A zoom wedding or microwedding: that’s something else. So people can pick and choose.”
What That Looks Like: To ensure that her clients understand what it is that she is offering exactly, she uses what she refers to as little end caps for each of her a la carte services. So for example, with each service she has a note that outlines what the finished job looks like. “So with the postponement package, my services are complete once they have all of their new updated contracts for their vendors,” she says. Lauren is also big on helping her clients understand what she does not do– and she writes that out as well for them. “Everyone is in such a vulnerable position, and I think the more information you can put on the front end, by letting them know what you don’t do so that they’re not surprised [is important].”
Takeaway: When It Comes to Safety, Start with a Conversation
“I don’t want to be the person saying all of the guests at your wedding need to wear masks because that’s not the aesthetic for someone’s dream day but we need to be safe,” she says. So instead of coming to her clients with a strict set of safety guidelines, she’s taking the route of starting with a conversation. “So the first thing I do is speak to my clients and really gauge their feelings about things and what their experience up to this point has been,” she says.
What That Looks Like: She asks questions– and lots of them. The questions are designed to get a sense of what they’re bringing to the table. For example, what industry do they work in, have they gone back to work, and do they have guests traveling in from out of town. From there, she goes back to all of the involved pros and finds out what safety measures they are planning to take. “So the venue might have some new things reinstated for all of their weddings but then I fill in the gaps for what is needed,” she says.
Takeaway: Think Long-Term Impact With Whatever You’re Offering
While she hopes that she doesn’t have to offer this service for years to come, “it will be Google-able and I will have clients out there who have had that experience with me,” she says. “So whether this is a short-term service or something you want to add for the long-term, you really want to make sure it makes sense with your overall business.”
What That Looks Like: This in mind, it was super important to Lauren that they did not turn into a full-service planning service. “That’s not logistics,” she explains. “That doesn’t fit with what we do.” She adds: “And then I also don’t help people book new vendors. Because that does then become more of a full-service situation.” In the end, the most important part of defining their new COVID Coordination product was that she and the team would be able to look back and feel confident that the pivot for her company and business made sense for now and later.
Watch the full interview with Lauren Schaefer, founder of The Get Together Events Co to learn more about the innovative things she is doing to lean into her strengths. Lauren is now advising pros and couples on safety considerations to ensure everyone feels comfortable. Stay tuned for more conversations on the Future of Weddings and what it means for pros.
Photo Credit: Asia Pimentel Photography
About the author: Anja Winikka is the former editor of TheKnot.com and The Knot Magazines turned educator and contributing editor @WeddingPro. She’s on a mission to help creatives, community leaders, and wedding businesses own their stories and tell the world about it (follow along via Instagram @editorinchiefmedia).