How is 2023 treating you so far? Is it not quite the bumper year that you were hoping for? I’ve been speaking to quite a few photographers like Sarah who contacted me recently saying that she’s been in the industry for a decade and has never known a year like this one.
She usually caps her bookings at 25 weddings per year and has never struggled to achieve this but in the strange times that is 2023, she’s currently sitting with just 5 on the books for this year and zero for next year.
She’s showing up on her social media, she’s got ads running on Google and she’s doing everything that she can think of to attract more bookings.
At this stage, it’s not even about booking her ideal weddings, it’s about booking any weddings so that her business can survive. “Lisa, I am thinking for the first time ever that it’s time to give up.”
If any of this resonates with you, then read on for the advice that I gave to Sarah and others who have been coming to me in similar circumstances.
First, let’s understand what we are all working with currently. The Engagement Gap in Weddings. What is it and why is it happening currently?
The Engagement Gap refers to the decrease in the number of couples getting engaged and planning weddings during the period affected by the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns. The average length of a relationship, before a couple gets engaged, is typically around three years. However, in 2020, when the pandemic and lockdowns began, people faced restrictions on socialising and forming new relationships. Remember having to choose who was in your bubble?
There is a deficit in weddings due to the conditions necessary for couples to meet, date, and progress their relationships were severely limited during the pandemic. As a consequence, there has been a decline in the number of engagements and weddings taking place.
Additionally, the pandemic has caused economic uncertainty, leading many couples to delay or postpone their wedding plans until they feel more financially secure. This has further contributed to The Engagement Gap.
This situation has had an impact on many professionals in the wedding industry, such as photographers like Sarah. With fewer engagements and weddings occurring, the demand for wedding-related services has decreased, leading to a decline in bookings.
It’s important to understand this shift and to adjust your marketing strategies accordingly. You may need to target a different demographic, adjust your pricing structure or offer different services to cater to the needs of couples who might be hesitant to commit to wedding plans in the current climate.
Tips For Navigating The Engagement Gap
- Diversify your target market: Expand your reach beyond your usual geographic area or wedding styles. Consider offering your services to couples who are planning elopements, intimate weddings, or destination weddings. By broadening your target market, you increase your chances of attracting more bookings.
- Adjust your pricing structure: Instead of offering fixed packages, consider offering an hourly rate or customised services. This allows couples with smaller budgets or unique wedding plans to hire your services for a shorter duration or specific requirements.
- Offer payment plans. This can help alleviate financial concerns for couples and make your services more accessible.
- Connect with other wedding photographers and suppliers. These relationships can be your best source of support when things are not ideal and as a bonus they can be a great source of valuable referrals.
- Highlight your flexibility and your expertise: Use your social media platforms and blog to showcase your passions, your portfolio, testimonials, and any recognition you have received. Highlight your unique style, professionalism, and the value you bring to weddings.
- Stay informed and adaptable: Keep up with the latest trends and changes in the wedding industry. Stay educated by attending conferences or webinars, and continuously learn and adapt your skills and services to meet evolving needs.
Remember, it’s essential not to panic and make hasty decisions like lowering your prices. Stay confident in your skills and the value you offer. It might be a weird couple of years but y being proactive, adaptable, and understanding the current market dynamics, you can navigate through the Engagement Gap in weddings.