Get Engaged comes to Charlottesville!

I will just admit it- I have a huge crush on Charlottesville. And education.  And all things wedding business related.

So when I heard that the ladies behind the Community of Charlottesville Wedding and Event Professionals were launching their wedding marketing workshop Get Engaged, I was ready to hit the highway and lend support any which way I could.

Get Engaged is an all day workshop featuring an impressive list of wedding marketing experts from all around the country. Claire and Jessica stopped by today to tell us more about the event and what we have to look forward to when Get Engaged comes to the Boar’s Head Inn on February 22.

Jessica and Claire were also kind enough to share two complimentary passes– more on that after the interview!

What inspired you to do the Get Engaged Workshop now?

Claire: Ever since I started working as an Officiant I have enjoyed learning the business side of things almost as much as I love the service I offer.  One of our GetEngaged speakers, Chris Jaeger, really got me interested in the business of weddings… in fact, at one point a few years ago he and I taught an online marketing class specifically for Officiants.  When I see a colleague who has a great service but they are not doing very well marketing themselves I always want to help… and yet, that is not really my expertise so the idea of bringing true experts to Charlottesville has been in the back of my mind for sometime.  Lucky for me Jessica was up for it!

Jessica: During my time in the wedding & event industry I realized that many small businesses owners are doing amazing things but don’t have the knowledge or time to market their businesses.  So, my goal when I started my marketing business in early 2010 was to offer small businesses an affordable marketing option when they need it.  I knew I would miss all of the event industry colleagues that I had developed relationships with so when Claire approached me about the idea of organizing a conference for them, I was in!  I love the idea that they will be able to leave Get Engaged with a plan and the know-how to actually get started on it right away.

How did you decide upon wedding marketing topics you wanted to cover?

Claire: There were several factors: Jessica sent out a survey sometime last year to get an idea of the kinds of topics people were needing help with.  We also took into account what our own experiences have been with colleagues in the wedding & event industry locally and where we felt training would be welcome.  And lastly, once we decided on our wonderful speakers we asked for their input into what kinds of help people out there are needing.

Jessica: I think Claire and I totally agree that the workshop is about the attendees and what they want to get out of it.  So, as the mentioned, I sent a survey, talked with some people individually and put some thought into the challenges that I have seen vendors experience over the last few years.  That really helped us to narrow down a general direction.  We also took into account feedback from our speakers on what people nationally had been most interested in recently and which topics attendees at other conferences were benefitting the most from.  I am so excited that we were able to find a group of speakers who will cover everything that we had on our ‘wish list’ and much more.

What are some of the biggest marketing challenges facing wedding pros today?

Claire: I think it varies from specialty to specialty.  With photographers, for instance, I think there is a lot of competition and they are constantly challenged to find the couples that are the right match for their particular service and style.  Also, of course, finding a way to set themselves apart from the huge number of individuals who are vyingf or the work that is available is a constant challenge.  Overall I would say that everyone is challenged simply keeping up with what’s happening out there with regards to marketing and social media… whether it’s search engine optimization or social media or even just website trends… everything is constantly changing and I think wedding & event professionals, like anyone, are challenged to be constantly learning what’s happening and where they should focus their resources and attention.

Jessica: In addition to the challenges that Claire mentioned, I think one of the biggest challenges is time.  Most wedding & event vendors are operating very small businesses that need their constant attention.  Keeping up with their marketing in a world where things change by the minute is certainly difficult.  Even if they can find small windows of time here and there, they sometimes don’t know where to start or what to do.  I hope that everyone at Get Engaged will leave with a plan so that when they do have a few minutes or hours, they will know exactly what they need to do first to most benefit their business.

What are you most looking forward to at Get Engaged?
Claire: Well, personally, I am looking forward to meeting Chris Jaeger in person 🙂  I know that sounds silly but I’ve been working with him since 2004 and I have never met him!  But other than that I am just thrilled to be able to bring this kind of high quality training to Charlottesville and I’m looking forward to being there with many of my wonderful colleagues learning new things!  As far as I know there hasn’t been anything like it offered in our area and I’m excited to be starting this new project with my brilliant and talented business partner, Jessica (who knows a whole lot more than I do about marketing & social media!).

Jessica: I am pretty excited about my world’s colliding! I started out as a meeting planner, moved into weddings and now marketing.  Get Engaged is such a great combination of all three for me.  Leaving the wedding & event industry was a hard choice for me so it’s going to be so much fun to share what I am doing now with the people who I used to work with on event days.  Also, I am really looking forward to learning from Chris, Rick and Meghan.  I find that the marketing + social media industry is so big & changes so fast that even I cannot keep up with it all either so I am sure I will take away just as much new information as the attendees.

What other big plans do you have in store for the CWEP and Get Engaged in the future?

Claire: I think Jessica and I are kind of in “wait and see” mode at the moment.  If the community tells us that this is something they need and want and we get a good enrollment in the workshop then we will definitely plan future Get Engaged workshops.  That’s certainly what we’re hoping!

Jessica: I would agree that we created both organizations- CCWEP and Get Engaged – for the members and attendees.  Based on their feedback after this first workshop, we will decide where to go from there.  My goal would be to make this an annual workshop in Charlottesville if people want it and find that their businesses are more successful after being part of it.

Thanks Claire and Jessica! As noted, they have graciously offered up two complimentary tickets for Get Engaged.
To enter:

  • Comment on the Blog below and tell us why YOU should win
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One entry is allowed per email address and TWO names will be selected. The contest ends this Friday at 12pm EST and the winners will be selected via and then announced on the Illuminate Blog!
Good luck!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive wedding pr columnist to wedding marketing journal WedLock magazine and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. She loves ruffle table runners and Royal Wedding Tchotchkes. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding pr, please contact us today.


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