I’ve worked with brides and grooms for eight years, and never been nominated or put myself forward for an award for my wedding calligraphy. I adore my job and my clients love their calligraphy – so I promise this isn’t sour grapes (hehe) but I wonder whether having an awards badge on my website would make much difference to people. To be honest I doubt it would. What do you think?
I’ve been involved in a minor way with the Wedding Industry Awards for a couple of years, as a consultant judge. It was good while it lasted, and certainly an eye-opener. When the awards began I was impressed with the very fair system of judging and the extensive use of genuine customer reviews in selecting winners. You can read my (honest and very enthusiastic!) opinions on the first Wedding Industry Awards here.
But ultimately every wedding awards event exists as a business. The organisers are in it for the money. Yes, some have genuine concerns about integrity (TWIA) but others don’t. I’m not mentioning names but some of you know me well enough to guess, I think! And there are so many national and regional awards these days that pretty much any supplier can win something. It’s hard to know which ones actually mean something any more.
I’d rather be judged on the quality of my work than for a badge on my website
Some of the very best wedding suppliers I’ve ever come across have never won a wedding industry award. They choose not to. Everyone has a different business strategy and for some of us it’s not important to win a badge or compare ourselves with other businesses. We simply aim to be amazing at what we do, and to delight every single customer.
This is why I provide free samples for every bride or groom who asks. I want to write a beautiful envelope and send it in the post. This is how I demonstrate the beauty of my work; by creating a moment of true excitement when the sample arrives at its destination. I believe this is far more important to my clients than an ‘award winner’ badge on my website would be.
I’m not one for popularity contests either – I don’t collect hundreds of facebook friends; at school I wasn’t the life and soul of the party or queen of the netball team (shudder). I didn’t hang out with the cool kids but happily followed my own path. And I don’t think you can win a wedding industry award these days without being an online social butterfly or networking like crazy – it’s just not for me.
I mentioned I was writing this blog post to Nathan (from Artemis Stationery) in passing, and he has similar feelings about the value of wedding awards: “When I started in the industry I used to compare my products and designs to those of the award winning suppliers, thinking theirs was the highest quality stationery in the UK. A few years down the line and many awards feel closer to popularity contests than recognition for quality products. I see regular appeals on twitter for votes, and much of the voting appears to be by other suppliers rather than brides. In the end it may all come down to who has the most twitter followers and facebook friends. If this is the case, then where is the value of these awards to brides and grooms choosing suppliers?”
Choosing wedding suppliers is a very personal experience, never one size fits all
Just because a wedding business has won a national or regional award doesn’t mean they’re right for you. A designer of wedding invitations might have hundreds of glowing reviews from happy customers – but their particular brand of vintage might not be up your street. A photographer could have gathered thousands of votes from their friends in the industry, but perhaps it’s not technical ability you’re searching for but a unique creativity or style.
It’s like finding a wedding dress in a way: you’ll make appointments, try a few for size and then find a dress which absolutely blows you away – ‘the one’. When you fall for that dress, would it matter in the slightest if it had an ‘award winner’ badge on it?
Winning awards costs a lot of time and money for suppliers. I have limits!
Following several friends’ experiences with wedding industry competitions this year was an eye-opener to say the least. Winning an award takes a lot of time and effort, from the initial entry to preparation for the ceremony itself.
The easy part is entering the awards – submitting images and writing a description of a business and paying an administration fee (£50 for TWIA last year). Then wedding business owners have to spread the word. Blogs, facebook pages and twitter accounts have to be kept buzzing with excitement about the awards process. This all takes time, as does the process of emailing past customers to ask for reviews and votes.
It’s really quite surreal in the run up to all the awards events in the wedding industry each year. Frazzled suppliers tear their hair out; events organisers tweet constantly about preparations and the industry watches with mild interest. (Until the night in question when even I follow a twitter hashtag with avid anticipation!)
Brides and grooms see little of this (anyone ever been offered a ticket to the awards? No. I wouldn’t recommend it either!) – all you really see is the awards issue of Wedding Ideas magazine and those little badges I’ve mentioned on people’s websites.
So is it all worth it? Not for me I’m afraid
Wedding awards can be an indication of quality products and customer service, but I doubt any of you will be choosing your suppliers based on awards alone. It’s important to see your suppliers’ portfolios and make informed choices. I see awards as a suggestion of quality and reliability, but little more.
What do you think? Would you choose a supplier because they had an award? How much do you know about how the awards work?
The first time I wrote about wedding awards I got in trouble. Oops. Having said that, many of you agreed with me!
Then when The Wedding Industry Awards introduced a £50 fee for suppliers to enter, it kicked off for a week (and then went quiet). So are the wedding industry awards worth every penny?
Just for the record, I should say that my opinions on the awards have changed since I wrote the above article in April last year. Winners in some regional categories were chosen because there were no other entries. They could then go on and win a national award (in theory). Also, the awards organisers visited some but not all suppliers in person to view portfolios and do a little ‘meet and greet’ which didn’t seem a fair process to me. I also heard stories from some suppliers who had prepared samples of their work especially for the judges’ visits and later found out their work had been ‘disposed of’.
Of course I’m not known for sucking up to the big guys in the wedding industry and I do like to raise awareness of the darker side of the business of weddings in the UK! Missed that one? Read What’s wrong with the wedding industry and how you can fix it
Whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to hear your comments. Have you chosen a supplier because they won an award? Are all awards equal? Do you love ’em or hate ’em?!