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Are exclusive features on wedding blogs killing our creativity?

More and more of the wonderful brides and grooms featuring on these happy pages are telling me they found ideas and suppliers on wedding blogs. That’s awesome! I LOVE knowing you’re discovering some of the amazing people whose work I feature, and booking them too!

Image credits used in this post: Penny Young Photography. Full supplier list and link to feature at the end of the post

I’ve been featuring more styled shoots on the English Wedding Blog, and I do choose them carefully: they have to be inspirational and beautifully photographed as well as having elements you can recreate without breaking the bank! For some of you this will mean contacting the suppliers featured; for others shoots are more about finding colour combinations or other elements you could use. They’re where some of our best ideas come from, right?


But as a supplier there’s one immensely frustrating side to styled shoots, and that’s exclusivity requests from wedding blogs. Until recently I asked for exclusivity for a few months on the English Wedding Blog; I don’t now. It seems almost greedy to ask for exclusivity: why claim the work of creatives for yourself and insist it’s not published elsewhere?

So I asked a little while ago for your thoughts on exclusivity, and here’s what you told me:

Share more, so brides can find suppliers more easily!

Erin is a reader of the English Wedding Blog. She told me, “I’m not a supplier, but I think more sharing and less exclusivity is a great idea. So much work goes into every wedding (or shoot), it seems wasted not to share it more. Brides are also looking for inspiration constantly, the goal should be to make it easier for them to find suppliers, not more restrictive.”

It’s so true: brilliant ideas should be shared, not hidden away! It’s best for everyone: brides, grooms and suppliers, if a shoot can be published on more than one blog.

Shoots are too quickly yesterday’s news…

My favourite Macaronier (and creative genius!) Lynne Burns said, “I think exclusivity does little to support or promote a wedding supplier. After putting in so much time and effort to create an amazing and inspiring wedding photo shoot I find it difficult to then only see it featured on one blog. As social media is so fast moving and so much content comes out from each blog it is so easy for the wedding shoot to be lost. I also think exclusivity does little to support couples too – I think each couple will have their favourite blogs and its easy for inspirational content to be lost. No-one wants the same images coming out at the exact same time so I can see that some time difference in publishing a blog from a wedding photo shoot is helpful but personally if something is great it should be shared far and wide!”

So much is invested in shoots, they’ve earned more time in the spotlight!

My lovely friend and superstar blog freelancer Claire from Garden & Wild has taken part in some of my all-time favourite shoots:

“I love styled shoots, I look to them for inspiration for my work and it gives me a great opportunity to showcase what I can do too… It gives me the opportunity to meet other wedding suppliers and I also think shoots are really helpful for communicating ideas and the general ‘feel’ a bride is looking for when you can refer to them in consultations etc.

However as a florist it can cost me a fair bit of money to buy flowers for shoots. Everyone puts in a great deal of effort and investment therefore I do feel that if it can be shared as much as possible that is much fairer to everyone. I do agree it should be spaced out so perhaps a month or two between different publications. I think when everyone puts so much into them it seems unfair for it to be shared only once in one place and then forgotten about, after all everyone does them to help promote their skills and services so they should be used to do that as much as possible so that the investment is worth it.”

Claire – I couldn’t agree more.

Does exclusivity make blog features more exciting?

Kirsty is a writer and wedding blog fan with her own vintage china hire company. I was intrigued by her comments:

I had assumed that all blogs would insist on exclusivity. I read recently on a blog submission form that the blog wanted exclusivity for six months and I got really excited. I have a blog featuring regionally specific weddings and I would love to pick up on weddings from the major blogs six months later. I’d give the first blog they were published on a shout out too – “did you see this amazing wedding on English Wedding Blog? – it took place right here in Cambridgeshire and featured some great local suppliers”. I love that idea!

“I realise that my blog is not going to be as appealing to photographers who can get a shout out nationally but for regionally based suppliers like myself the secondary feature might be more useful….

I asked Kirsty what might happen once exclusivity is over: should the shoot be published simultaneously on regional or smaller blogs?

She replied, “I don’t think it would matter because they would have different readerships. I think it would be up to the suppliers or the blog owner to have the motivation to look for those opportunities.”

So being published more than once is worthwhile… and the suppliers need to chase opportunities later on. Should this be part of the original promotional plan before the shoot even takes place? I think so.

It’s all about online exposure: and the more, the better!

Hertfordshire wedding photographer Matthew Bishop agrees:

I like Kirsty’s comment about having some sort of time frame, after which more regional blogs can feature it. I think that having an exclusive ‘first look’ on one blog is still a good thing to do, but agree that both real weddings and styled shoots should then be shared more widely so that all the wedding suppliers involved get as much exposure as possible – especially as the web is a key player for displaying your work. I doubt that many will submit to more than one major wedding blog, so hopefully this will encourage lots of local blog posts that will promote suppliers in their areas.

This is something I’d love to see more of: shoots featured on a major blog, and then shared across as many publications as possible, online and in print. Not every bride reads blogs, and every blog has a different niche… perhaps shoots could be featured from a slightly different perspective on the different wedding blogs so as many couples see them as possible!

It can be done – but there’s a fine line!

Jason at AlexanderLeaman.com made some interesting comments too:

A blog wants exclusivity, which is understandable. As a photographer I want to maximise exposure, and it’s sometimes worked for me in the past when I’ve shot a styled bride shoot for one blog and some details and styling from the same shoot goes to a different blog but there’s an extremely fine line there!

… and it comes down to the blogger to promote a shoot to the max

Jason also told me, “Personally I think that exclusivity is a good idea if the blog is going to push it, tweet it, link to me, facebook it and saturate the exposure as much as possible. And then do it again tomorrow. Too often I’ve been blogged with what feels like an exclusive release that fizzles away after 24 hours only to be replaced by the next shoot. It’s a very thin edge. Quality over quantity might work, or a better way of categorising blog posts and features.

And as a blogger I wish I could do just as Jason says without overwhelming my readers – I generally publish once or twice a day (compared to some who publish 3+ posts daily) and now share images on Facebook and Pinterest as often as I possibly can. But the next day, I have to publish something new. I reuse images from shoots wherever there’s an opportunity (like in this article!) but it’s tricky to do more…

The key is in the length of exclusivity – perhaps a few weeks for a blog.

Expert wedding planner Kelly Chandler sees both sides: “I completely understand a blog/magazine wanting and needing exclusivity but I think it should be for a period of time (in the case of a magazine a few months, in the case of a blog a few weeks), not forever. The biggest challenge I have is that sometimes a wedding/shoot can be submitted and it can take weeks/months to get an answer on whether it’s suitable or not and this can be problematic when the content/design is seasonal and therefore potentially the moment is lost to get the work published. For me working with bloggers/magazines who can give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (and a no is fine, I understand) and an idea of timescale to publishing it is key and makes me more likely to submit more regularly.”

Every blogger I know replies to submissions within a week… so to hear suppliers are kept waiting so long is quite shocking. Seasonality is a huge issue, and then there are trends to keep up with…

My perspective on exclusivity – from the English Wedding Blog

My personal solution going forward means no more silly exclusivity. The English Wedding Blog will publish great styled shoots so long as they haven’t been on another major wedding blog a few days beforehand. I want to share ideas; I love featuring great content; it’s important to me to help suppliers get featured.

I recently submitted some of my work from a styled shoot to another major wedding blog, and was surprised by their exclusivity policy: the shoot hadn’t to have appeared on any ‘rival’ wedding blog or magazine before – they had to be first. Because of how this made me feel as a supplier, I’ll never echo their exclusivity policy. Every shoot, wedding or product feature can be published with a different angle, a more creative focus, a new perspective. It’s nice to be first, but it’s more important to share and benefit readers.


And a last note on seasonality: many shoots are themed by the time of year: russet autumn colours or seasonal spring flowers are the prime example. Often shoots are themed: Great Gatsby, or Alice in Wonderland maybe. BUT the best shoots don’t depend on their season or theme. The images can be used again in a 1920s feature, or an afternoon tea blog post and so on. Seasonal shoots can come back a year later: because as with weddings, the most beautiful examples are timeless and elegant, and so incredible we never tire of them.

claire gould calligrapher signature

Images from a styled shoot photographed by Penny Young Photography:

Georgian country house wedding styled shoot

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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1 COMMENT
  • Nathan @ Artemis Stationery
    4 years ago

    I always thought it was about big blogs exploiting their leading position to make sure they stay on top. Eg with exclusivity everywhere suppliers will always try and submit their shoots to the blogs that fit and have the highest numbers of readers first, you’d be silly not to. These blogs then get first choice of content so if they choose wisely will always have the best content to attract new readers and keep everyone else in their place.

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