What is Really Behind WeddingWire's Bride's Choice Award?

What is Really Behind WeddingWire's Bride's Choice Award?

My Facebook news feed is being littered with photographers today announcing from their soap box that they won the 2012 Bride’s Choice Award thereby putting them in the Top 5% of their industry. Some may call it an award, I call it a deceptive marketing scheme.

According to their website, The WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards™ recognizes the best local wedding vendors from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate quality and service excellence within the wedding industry. Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the organization, the WeddingWire Bride's Choice Awards™ are determined by the quality, quantity, recency, and consistency of reviews from over 1.2 million WeddingWire newlyweds. The 2012 award recipients represent the top five percent of WeddingWire's vendor community, which consists of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the US and Canada. “Every year, WeddingWire looks forward to celebrating the success of the top-rated Wedding Professionals within the WeddingWire Network,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Now in its fifth installment, the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program continues to recognize the elite Wedding Professionals who exemplify quality service and professionalism. These vendors were chosen by our bridal community for their responsiveness and dedication to clients. We are honored to recognize the 2013 winners for their impressive achievements and unwavering commitment to providing quality service within the wedding industry.”

First, let me start by saying that when I first got started shooting weddings back in 2010 I saw photographers sharing they won the “Bride’s Choice Award” and I really wanted one. I decided I was going to do everything possible to earn one since I thought it would be great for my business. I’d click on the award banners displayed on photographer website and be promptly taken to the WeddingWire.com site. At first I was impressed. Lots of information, articles and links to wedding vendors. I immediately signed up as a vendor and after following the instructions given I became a recipient of the award in 2011. Excitedly I shared my award with my Facebook fans and just hoped they wouldn’t realize that practically every photographer in town was sharing the same thing.

In short, WeddingWire bills itself as the “Yelp of the Wedding Industry.” Their ultimate goal is to drive as much traffic as they can to their website so they can sell advertising. Which takes us right back to the “awards” they are giving out each year. Is this award based on skill? Nope. Is it based on a system of votes from industry peers? Nope. Is it based on the merits of the award winner? Nope. The way a person “wins” this “Bride’s Choice Award” is by getting 5 positive reviews on their vendor listing on the site. While the idea is that the reviews would come from brides, ultimately who would ever know if my mom, my sister, my aunt, my brother and my wife left me positive reviews.

I will admit the company is remarkably innovative in the way they are driving traffic to their site and for this innovation they have grown tremendously since starting up in 2007. Their business model is fantastic and not a week goes by that I don’t see a photographer in one of the many forums or groups that I belong to ask if they should purchase a marketing package from WeddingWire so they can have one of the better listings there. I applaud the company for their growth and service they are offering vendors and brides to connect.

However, to call a spade a spade this award is nothing more than WeddingWire driving traffic to their site and we all are their puppets excitedly posting their banners with links back to them all over our websites, blogs and Facebook. So tomorrow, January 9, 2013 when WeddingWire officially sends out the banners to this year's “award” winners and they get plastered in Facebook news feeds and thousands of blog posts of people patting themselves on the back, the one thing that will be certain is that WeddingWire will be receiving a record number of hits tomorrow on it’s website. Exactly what they planned for!

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57 Comments

I think you're on to  something about it being a marketing scheme. Though the criteria doesn't really make sense. I personally have 5, 5star reviews on my weddingwire listing, and yet another photographer I know who had only 4 got the award and I didn't. It seems to be even more arbitrary than this article suggests.

I have personally seen photographers that have reviews no newer than one year old receive the reward while others who have NUMEROUS positive reviews each year get nothing.. always made me wonder what the "formula" for the award was and how SO MANY people are in the top 5%? thanks for posting trevor and we'll see where it goes from here?

We received this award and it appears every other photographer we know locally did as well. I don't mind that everyone gets it, but the top 5% is misleading. It is not the top 5% of wedding wire vendors, it's and "industry" top 5%. Realistically, those who are active in the industry probably have a wedding wire account and therefore everyone gets the award! I think it would be better if it were the top 5-10% of current users on wedding wire. Either way, interesting article.

I have identical reviews in two markets. I won in one market, didn't in the other. I take these types of "award" with a grain of salt. I use WeddingWire because I have had success with advertising on them and I do like that I have a spot brides can easily view reviews, however, their award is a bit ridiculous. It does not at all reflect a photographer's skill or talent, nor does it really do anything except give people a chance to simply say "hey people like us so take a look".

Spot on Trevor. I suspected this. Although accolades are wonderful to receive, A genuine accolade is preferable to a marketing driven accolade. 

Albert Zablit's picture

Wait, how exactly are they innovative? All I see is manipulative scheming.

I hate crap like this. Deceptive marketing tactics are responsible for people saying the general statement "marketing is bad" or "marketing is a lie." Marketing isn't bad or a lie, but things like this really don't help my argument. We, as marketers, should be using our powers for good, never evil. GAH!!

Stephen Reasonover's picture

Spot on and so well explained.

I think it's very important NOT to single out Wedding Wire on this one. While I agree to taking to the award with a grain of salt you do do have to get X number of positive reviews per year to earn it. 

My issue with this article is that The Knot is actually worse about this in my opinion. By singling out Wedding Wire you are almost slandering one company and indirectly praising another. 

What if a wedding photographer decides to advertise with Wedding Wire and not The Knot?

yep

YES! Glad someone said it. Raised an eyebrow for me last year, but when so many of your peers and friends are touting it on their page, it's hard to say anything about it. Good call Trevor!

Glad to see you calling it for what it is. The business has sure taken a downturn as far as ethics go in the past 10 years.

One positive note should be added that they do list your company under the local area if you're a winner. I don't pay for Wedding Wire, I think it's way over priced, but I love to get my customers to go and review so I can get the little awards to fill my website / facebook with as customers view this as a huge achievement and it actually helps promote better business for us! I won the 2013 award, whether I really did deserve it or not... ill sure as hell proudly be happy to be listed http://www.weddingwire.com/brides-choice-awards <---------- there and still post it all over for people to say, "Wow we for sure made the right choice for them as our florist / photographer " More of comfort food rather than anything else... 

Vince's picture

We have a slight twist on this ploy in Wales at the Welsh Wedding Awards. You get chosen by the votes of past or current clients (who can only put forward suppliers they had, not those they wished they'd had) and then an anonymous committee choose a winner. You are then invited to pay £50 ($80) a head to attend the awards to see if you've won. This year it seems that many of last year's winners were the same as last year, even though several of them have weaker portfolios of competitors (although some are very competent). 

http://welshnationalweddingawards.co.uk/#/how-it-works/4550704681

Doesn't this kind of fall into the "well, duh" category? Yes it's a marketing ploy and it doesn't take a genius to spot it. Many other wedding services sites do the same exact thing (i.e. TheKnot.com). I guess what surprises me is that this is even a topic. The headline might as well have been "Google's massive patent portfolio is just a ploy to earn money".

Hunter I would agree that the photography industry understands what it "really" is but sadly many of our clients don't. They see John Doe Photography winning the "BRIDE'S CHOICE AWARD" and being in the TOP 5% and can't wait to talk with John Doe. Sadly it doesn't take much to earn it. 

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