Avoiding Real Wedding Feature Disappointment

So you’ve done your research and planned out client weddings for the season. You’ve selected editorially competitive images, told the couple’s story, and gathered the entire wedding day team. You get picked up by a publication (hooray!) and the day has come to enjoy the feature’s debut.

The majority of the time, you’ll find yourself doing cartwheels and giving your wedding team a virtual high-five when your real wedding submission comes to fruition, but on occasion, you’re going to find yourself disappointed with the results.

One of the most interesting parts of a real wedding feature is seeing how it is interpreted through the editor’s eyes- which focuses on their favorite photos as well as their take on the couple’s experience.  With that comes one of the biggest benefits of PR- credibility from a third party. On the other side, would be one of the challenges of PR- losing control of the final outcome.

Preparing yourself for the worst (but hoping for the best!)

The good news? There are plenty of things you can do to lessen the chances of a disappointing feature including:

  • Do your research in advance. There are plenty of considerations when it comes to targeted media outlets in which to pitch. One of things that you’ll want to make sure you ask yourself is how well you like their current features- from photo selections and how they promote it, to the general tone of the articles.
  • Send only photos that you’re ok with being published. This may sound like an obvious tip, but every so often, you may reflect back on a submission and realize that you selected a handful that simply weren’t your favorites. The best thing you can do is pick the ones you’d like to send, step away from it and then revisit the collection with a fresh set of eyes. Better yet- have a trusted member of your team review them one last time for any final feedback.
  • Take the time to craft a great story. There are editors that prefer to interview the couples directly, but in many instances, they’ll consider using the copy you send along. With the latter scenario, it’s imperative that you send along professional and compelling copy that is devoid of any grammar errors or typos. This will only better your chances of having it included in the piece.
  • Credit everyone. There will be times when you get picked up and not every vendor from the wedding day team will receive a nod. Your aforementioned research will assist you with finding blogs and publications that historically credit everyone. Another best practice to consider incorporating is making sure you collect the names of everyone from the wedding day team- from the bridal gown shop and transportation to the rehearsal dinner band and on-site hair stylist. Ultimately, you can’t control who is published, but you can at least make sure everyone had a chance.

When the couple is unhappy

One of the biggest benefits of real wedding submissions is being able to share the good news of a feature with a former couple.  It can be the proverbial cherry on the sundae if you already had a fantastic relationship with them.

Sometimes however, you will find yourself in the midst of an unhappy couple- whether it be because of unwanted attention or the media placement of the actual submission.

How can this situation be avoided?

Very simply put- prepare, prepare, prepare.  Make sure your contract cites that you may use images and information from the wedding for marketing and public relations services.  If you’re working with a couple that is particularly visible in their community, consider running the idea by them once again just for good measure.  This will be your best line of defense if you run into a “well I didn’t know you submitted weddings” situation.

Additionally, gather all of the information you need prior to the wedding so that you don’t need to involve them in the submission process at all. This allows you to avoid having to discuss your intentions or worse, feeling pressured to reroute your submission due to the couple’s wishes.  If the couple does know your intentions to submit, keep their expectations reasonable and do not guarantee that the wedding will be picked up. There are far too many variables outside of your control to be able to do so.

Furthermore, I would strongly urge you to not submit weddings of particularly difficult or press hungry couples. There is no media mention worth it in the world if it means you have to continue staying in contact with a former client that you’d rather just file under “glad their wedding day has come and gone.”

So what if you still have an unhappy couple on your hands?

Honesty will always be your best policy.

Respond to them promptly and with a phone call, if possible.  If they’re unhappy that they were featured, then assure them in the most sincerest way possible that you had nothing but good intentions and was thrilled to see that an editor loved the wedding as much as you did. If they’re unhappy with the placement itself, you can potentially encourage them to resubmit to her favored media outlet, as long as they have permission from the photographer and includes a mention in the submission that the wedding has been featured elsewhere.

So what if you do your due diligence with the above, and still find yourself in “womp womp” circumstances?  Now, it’s time for a little perspective.  At the end of the day, it’s still a PR win that you should be proud of, and if you plan on regularly submitting, then there are plenty of other reasons to celebrate heading your way.

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Meghan Ely

Regarded as one of the leading wedding publicists in the US, Meghan Ely combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding PR. She has earned coverage for her clients with the New York Times, People, Brides, Bridal Guide, The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, CNN Money, and more. She is a WeddingPro Expert and long-time contributor to and