Wedding Publicity: Leveraging Trends in 2021

Traditionally, the wedding and event industry welcomes each new year with a look at the latest trends and what industry pros can expect for the year ahead. We are in a creative space, so it’s typically a whole host of fresh, innovative ideas mixing up the styles of years past. Love them or hate them, we all need to care about them (especially when it comes to your wedding publicity plans!) because, at the end of the day, trends will influence how we work with clients and colleagues throughout the year.

A Broad Look at Trends

A trend is, essentially, a direction that an industry is going. While fads come and go in the blink of an eye, trends stick around for much longer. Take mason jars, for example. They popped up on the scene in the aughts and, here in the 2020s, we are still seeing them repurposed and used in different ways. On the other hand, fads tend to last less than a season. Remember the color bomb phase? That was in and out of weddings before we knew it and, now, it’s ultimately a go-to way to celebrate gender reveals. Ultimately, a trend has legs — it will have some longevity in its life cycle, even if it means it will go through different interpretations.

Now, you’ve heard it plenty and I’ll say it again: We’re living through unprecedented times. In 2020, there were ideas that had real trend potential, but ultimately fizzled out as fads simply because there weren’t enough events happening to sustain them. As a result, it’ll be essential to look ahead to 2021 to see how past and present trends will play a role.

Let’s first consider how an idea becomes a trend in the first place.

The Trend Lifecycle

People adopt trends in various ways and, in other cases, some won’t adopt them at all. Understanding the lifecycle as a trend in relation to the market will help you to identify where your target market stands and how you can specifically leverage these trends based on your ideal client.

First and foremost, you have the innovators, which makes up a very small corner of the market. These are the forward-thinking people who start the trend by coming up with never-before-seen ideas. Innovators will seek out industry pros that have a track record of innovation. A great example of an innovator is Gwen Stefani when she donned her ombré wedding dress in 2002. At the time, ombré wasn’t even a thing — but, in the years that followed, it became a favorite style in weddings and beyond.  

Next, you have the early adopters. This is the small chunk of the market that jumps onto a trend very early. When they see the innovators, they begin pushing the trend forward. These are the fashion designers that started experimenting with ombré styles after Gwen’s dress.

Then, you have the early majority. These are the people who embrace a trend once it starts to hit the mainstream. There’s a bit of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, but it’s not yet saturated. These were the people responsible for the first ombré styled shoots and wedding looks before it really blew up.

From there, you have the late majority. This is when a trend is becoming saturated and it’s everywhere you turn. Once ombré started to pop up here and there, it went crazy. By 2010, everyone wanted ombré details throughout their wedding. Consider that Gwen’s dress was making headlines in 2002 — that’s eight whole years for it to become a major thing.

Last, you have the stragglers. These are the people still trying to make ombré happen in 2021 when a vast majority of us have grown tired and moved past it.

As you can see, a trend can stretch over a couple of decades. If you’re looking for trendy, forward-thinking clients, you’ll want to be reaching the early adopters and early majority. Those are the clients that will be impressed by your knowledge of what’s up-and-coming in the industry.

Leveraging Trends in Your Market

There are two ways to leverage your thought leadership about trends: owned content and earned media through wedding publicity efforts. With owned content—like your website, your blog, social media, and email newsletters—you can talk about whatever you want. You can speak to trends that are catching your eye or you can touch on trends that you can’t stand. It’s not about loving every single trend, but instead, how you can identify them and put your own spin on it.

Owned media provides you with a platform to create an authoritative role on trends, but it lacks the social proof and third-party validation of earned media. You likely won’t attract a lot of new people since you’re targeting your existing audience and, ultimately, it can take a lot of time to curate content for various owned channels.

Earned media, on the other hand, is when someone else says that you’re great and worth the listen. This means showing up as an expert source on podcasts, online articles, webinars, social media partnerships, and other spaces outside of your branded channels. This is a great way to elevate your reputation in the industry and reach new corners of the market that you hadn’t touched prior. So, where to begin?

Revisit wedding publicity goals and educate yourself.

Take some time to consider what you want 2021 to look like from a wedding publicity standpoint. Be realistic, considering the circumstances, but give some thought to what success would look like for you. Once you determine how trends fit into your big picture goals, start educating yourself. Figure out where you want to focus and do your homework. If you’re a photographer, maybe you want to focus on photography trends. If you’re a designer, you may be focused on color and décor trends. Look at art, interior design, fashion, and other outside industries that influence our own.

Go for the low-hanging fruit.

Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, is one of my favorite wedding publicity resources that I encourage everyone to embrace, no matter your experience in PR. When you sign up, it will email you with up to 100 press opportunities three times a day throughout the business week (excluding holidays). All you have to do is click on a query that interests you, write up your answer, and email it to them. It’s efficient and easy, so it’s worth including in your PR mix.

Other low-hanging fruit include opportunities with outlets that you already have a connection. For example, if you advertise, you might have a leg-up in earning a feature with that publication. Likewise, if you’re a member of an industry association, they may have a blog for you to submit expert articles.

Develop your wedding publicity plan.

When you’re ready to take your wedding publicity efforts up a notch, you can start to look at the other media outlets you want to focus on based on your goals. If you’re seeking more national recognition, you might look at spots like Brides or Bridal Guide. However, if you want some local press, you’d want to look at your smaller regional publications. Likewise, niche brands should dig into the specialized outlets available.

Try and pick three publications to start, head over to their website, and run a search for “wedding trends.” The results will tell you whether they cover trends and, if they do, how they cover them. You’ll also be able to find out who writes the trend-related articles and reach out to introduce yourself. When it comes to trends, I recommend making these contacts in December when they’re still researching and putting their pieces together.

Keep your subject line short, sweet, and to the point. Start by telling them who you are, then explain how you can assist. Editors and writers are busy, so the point is to make it as easy as possible for them. If you’re a photographer, offer to supply images. Maybe you’re a member of an industry association and can refer them to additional sources. Show them why they should connect with you by creating value and helping to make their lives easier.

A note about photos: Trends are only emerging on the scene, so it can be tricky to pull photos of something that is just gaining in popularity. Be careful culling photos and select details that will make sense with the topic. Do not promise to provide images if you cannot.

Once you’ve sent your pitch, move on to the next one. There’s no need to follow up; editors will reach out if they are interested in what you have to offer.

Along the way, be sure to track your wedding publicity progress to know how you’re advancing towards your goals. Keep tabs on the outlets you’ve pitched, your contacts, what and when you pitched, and whether you heard from them. This will help you to ensure that the effort you’re putting in leads to the goals you’ve set for your business. You might not love the idea of ephemeral trends, but you must recognize and accept that they’re a big part of the media cycle, especially in Q1. If you want to be known as a thought leader, you need to show up to the conversation and leverage those trends.

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 Catersource.com and SpecialEvents.com.