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Do we really need yet another wedding industry awards?

Nope. It’s not just me, is it? There are so many wedding industry awards going on that it all gets a bit… meh. It started with the Wrapit awards (that ended well, didn’t it – when the organisers went bust in 2008 leaving thousands of couples heartbroken). Then we had glitzy wedding magazine awards ceremonies and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Along came more ethical awards, but then we all had to pay for them so they weren’t as ethical after all. Now it’s the turn of big events companies to branch out and try and send us to sleep a wee bit more. Marvellous.

I’ve had a couple of emails now from a business called Creative Oceanic, who are the organisers of The English Wedding Awards (no relation, I promise!). They specialise in event production and are behind lots of other awards events including the Scottish Wedding Awards and What’s On Awards across the UK.

It’s pointless launching a new wedding industry awards event!

We already have enough high profile wedding industry awards – there’s Wedding Ideas Magazine (the one which gets in the press), The Wedding Industry Awards (the one with the fairest-but-not-foolproof voting system) and The Wedding Industry Experts Awards (where suppliers can all vote for each other if they’re friends on twitter).

Does anyone really care about awards anyway? I don’t mean businesses – yes, it’s nice to have ‘award-winning’ next to your name. But I don’t think many brides and grooms are choosing suppliers based on trophy collections alone. And with more and more awards events coming along it just dilutes the meaning of the existing awards.

So why on earth are they doing it?

Money.

The awards events aren’t for your benefit, lovely brides and grooms. They’re not even for the benefit of all my wonderful wedding supplier friends. They’re not for the good of the industry. They’re lining pockets.

Businesses pay to enter awards.

Advertisers pay to feature on the awards associations’ websites.

Tickets to the glitzy events cost hundreds of pounds.

The more businesses enter or are nominated, the more visitors flock to a website to vote. The more suppliers share links in their facebook statuses, the more visitors flock to a website to vote. The bigger the website becomes, the larger its power and recognition… and the more everyone wants to be involved with a hyped-up awards ceremony.

Oh, and the more magazines people buy. And the more likely the businesses are to advertise in those magazines.

Is there any harm in having all these wedding awards flying around?

I actually suspect there is!

Last year I saw the pressure on businesses to enter some of these awards ceremonies. I saw friends working hard to promote the awards and asking their past customers to take time to give feedback for them, and vote.

It takes a lot of time for a busy wedding business to prepare for an awards event, with investment in social media and online promotion using up those precious hours we save to spend with our families.

Most wedding businesses are very small – craft businesses from jewellery to couture wedding dresses and stationery as well as photographers, stately homes and florists tend to have only a few people working for them. Can they really afford to enter wedding awards competitions? And for what… a glass trophy (which I’ve heard has to be bought!) and an online badge?

At a time when the wedding industry as a whole is in decline and budgets are falling from an average £20k+ to closer to the £10k mark, wedding suppliers should be cutting costs to provide the very best service they can at affordable (but realistic) prices. This means focusing on what’s important – and that’s you.

The best wedding suppliers don’t enter awards

Elite wedding suppliers rarely enter wedding awards competitions. The masters of their trade, the skilled craftspeople who’ve been providing a top class service for brides and grooms for years – they rarely enter. They don’t need to. Their work speaks for itself.

So brides, grooms, don’t choose your suppliers for their awards badges. Choose them for their products, the quality of their service, and because you fall in love with what they do.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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20 COMMENTS
  • Mat Hepplestone
    7 years ago

    very interesting article claire, Its a real hard one and after years in the industry I feel pressured to enter the awards to remain at the top of my game. Do i want to spend my life gaining votes and entering competitions. No I would rather stick pins in my eyes.
    Always surprises me though how many brides and grooms comment on the awards that we have won. Could you please wave a massive magic wand and put an end to all this bloody award shizzle xx

    • Claire Gould
      7 years ago

      Haha cheers for your comment Mat – if you make me a magic wand I’ll sort that for ya 🙂
      Interesting to hear your feedback from brides and grooms about awards – my sister said something similar yesterday. Perhaps I’m wrong about brides and grooms not caring… which is interesting.
      C x

  • Jo S
    7 years ago

    “Nope. It’s not just me, is it?” THANK YOU, because I was beginning to think it WAS just me

  • Wedding Day Dance UK
    7 years ago

    Another refreshing subject Claire, I do love reading your blog! When I first started in the industry I was (naively) excited about entering awards – until I realised the costs involved!

    • Claire Gould
      7 years ago

      Likewise – the Wedding Ideas awards looked great to me at first, until I looked at the voting process and saw how cliquey it all was…
      The first year I saw those awards it was fascinating to see how Mandalay had created all the stationery for the awards event, and also had at least a 6-page feature in the magazine in the following issue. Unsurprisingly they won the award. I heard later that one of the top people at Wedding Ideas had used them for her own wedding stationery previously…
      I guess we can all be a little naive sometimes! x

  • Diana - Rose Garden
    7 years ago

    No I don’t think we do. We all keep seeing small companies desperately chasing awards, canvassing for votes on social media, which is understandable as this industry is so saturated with small businesses trying to get recognised. But the only winners are the stream of companies offering ‘awards’, not to help small business, but to line their own pockets.

    I have never entered any awards and never will, my hard earned money is spent improving my service and product, and a thank you or compliment from a happy customer means more than any award ever could.

    • Claire Gould
      7 years ago

      Diana, that’s lovely. I agree that those thank you notes and emails mean the world 🙂

  • Nathan @ Artemis Stationery
    7 years ago

    I was going to suggest that there are so many awards that they need their own award to recognise the fantastic role these awards play in the industry…..

    But I think it’s too important to just poke fun at the awards. They can be highly misinforming, after all awards that basically revolve around getting people to vote on twitter don’t call themselves the I have the most mates on twitter award. While every bit of time spent campaigning is effectively paid for by the clients as another marketing activity. So just increases costs further. As Claire says the only winners are the organisers. Not the public, not the suppliers.

    Just trying to think how you could make a merit of avoiding such awards.

    • Claire Gould
      7 years ago

      Oh Nathan, yes it would be lovely to launch the Wedding Awards Awards wouldn’t it?!

      You make a serious point though and I do agree with you. The awards can be misleading. The problem comes back to money – the awards companies are very big compared to most wedding businesses. They have power and influence… and I only wish my voice was big enough to shout over them!

      C x

      • Nathan @ Artemis Stationery
        7 years ago

        It’s quite sad times, especially now hearing that nominations that draw you in may not be from Brides and Grooms who have been your clients. Some of them have such slick operations their websites will dominate most google wedding searches if we’re not careful and then we’ll all have to play these games. All ultimately at the clients cost and the gain of the PR firm.

        I must admit you see people say an award made their business and it gets tempting. You see editors or other bloggers gushing over award winners which is obviously good PR. Sad times, though I do have an idea not sure how workable it may be though. Something to ponder….

        Has anyone counted how many there are in the UK?

  • Claire Gould
    7 years ago

    Oh Kerry what a shame – just goes to show it’s all about the money 🙁
    I’d almost come around to thinking perhaps the magazines are the only awards worth winning because of the publicity. Your comment has steered my opinion away from that conclusion though!
    I wonder how much the wedding awards industry is worth! C x

  • Claire Gould
    7 years ago

    Hmm… so perhaps there’s a benefit for the very small, new businesses out there?
    Thanks for sharing, Amy!
    C x

  • Claire Gould
    7 years ago

    … a story I’ve heard many times. And seen.
    I forgot to mention the bribery aspect didn’t I… along the lines of “vote for us for a chance to win a free photoshoot / discount” etc.
    Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Claire Gould
    7 years ago

    Reeeally? – it doesn’t surprise me to hear they’re using such ‘creative’ tactics to increase participation!
    I know a LOT of businesses were nominated for awards last year, and those nominations were why they entered the awards competitions. Are nominations driving the whole thing, I wonder? And are they real?
    Thanks Mark x

  • Nicola Clark
    7 years ago

    Last year we launched The North of England Wedding Awards, designed to recognise outstanding customer service received by brides from suppliers in the North of England. We had been approached by a few people about this so thought we would give it a go. We were truly overwhelmed by the response we received, both from companies entering and brides voting. The comments made by brides about the customer service they received reduced many to tears. We believe these awards are invaluable as they recognise what is great about the industry. The fact they are based on customer service reflects this. A company only needs to receive four votes to qualify as a finalist as we believe it is about the quality of the vote, not quantity. They receive an average points score and the comments are then looked at by a panel of judges who then rank the companies in their own order of preference. The company with the lowest judges points score wins. The North of England Wedding Awards are free to enter, the trophies are free and you don’t have to attend the dinner to be a winner (although it is a great night out!). The feedback we received from brides and the companies who took part has been amazing, and we can’t wait to do it again this year!

    • Claire Gould
      7 years ago

      Thanks for commenting, Nicola.
      I’ll be honest – this is the first I’ve heard of the North of England Wedding Awards. Your comment reminds me of the first year of TWIA with a focus on customer service…
      But I raised an eyebrow at the possibility of a company with four votes being a finalist. Should a wedding business with four customers under its belt be an award winner? I’d say no – we all need experience before we can claim any kind of expertise.
      Claire

      • Nicola Clark
        7 years ago

        Thank you for your comment, however I would expect companies to have worked with more than four couples over the course of a year, but as one of the other comments pointed out both brides and the companies themselves are busy and not everyone will want to take the time to vote. This is why the minimum number is four. Some companies will receive the minimum number, some companies will receive rather more. The average points score sets a level playing field before the comments are looked at. We actually spoke to a lot of well established companies before embarking on the project and the general opinion was a lower number because we didn’t want it to be about who has the most friends on Facebook as we are all aware of how meaningless many people find those kinds of awards.

  • Rosie Weisencrantz
    7 years ago

    As a so called finalist in the English Wedding Awards, I have come to believe it is a complete scam, basic profiteering on a very fraudulent level. The Awards Ceremony in Manchester has now been cancelled twice, both times at very short notice, and now I believe abandoned altogether. I lost money on train tickets that had been booked on two occasions, as I have no doubt, did many others. I intend to take this story to RIP Off Britain (BBC) https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wck32/contact If anybody wants to do the same, here is the form. I think their behaviour is disgraceful and actually bringing down the reputation of genuine Awards. I have no idea how I came to be a finalist, but it is quite clear to me that these people had no idea about me or my work.

    • Claire Gould
      7 years ago

      Thanks for commenting, Rosie. I’m so very sorry to hear about your experience with the English Wedding Awards. Their website is looking a bit stagnant, and their facebook page has been quiet since July – but their blog is going strong and they’re still promoting the event for the Scottish Wedding Awards.
      http://creativeoceanic.blogspot.co.uk/
      It makes me very sad that these companies don’t realise independent wedding businesses are run by people – real people with families to provide for and whose future depends on every sale, every review and every award or nomination. It appears they don’t realise the impact they have. Not good.
      Claire xx

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