From planners to photographers; florists to dressmakers, approximately 1500 wedding professionals turned out for the Wedding MBA last September in world-renown Las Vegas, Nevada. The show kicked off with an impressive array of presenters, including experts from The Knot, and Martha Stewart Weddings. All offered worthwhile information, but the reality is I had to travel a long way to get it. So why would an Australian wedding professional like me globe-trot halfway around the world just to attend a conference?

The question should be, “Why not?”

The WMBA provides invaluable access to speakers, wedding educators and experts, not to mention like minded peers and wedding professionals, all of which are not typically available in Australia on such a grand scale. I strongly believe continuing education for any professional is the key to success. By staying current in your field you:

A) Always learn something new

B) Reinforce old (yet useful) ideas

C) Stumble upon a “BFO” or two, which are blinding flashes of the obvious. The concept being you don’t know what you don’t know until someone else points it out.

Carley Roney, The Knot

Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire

Timothy Chi, WeddingWire

So what was it that I took away from this year’s WMBA? The common thread running through the conference was not only how to reach brides, but also to understand how brides use social media and technology to plan their weddings.

For example, Stacie Francombe of Get Married spoke about the Gotta-have-it-now Bride. Even though she’s a “hunter-gather” who uses multiple mediums to find what she needs, the Gotta-have-it-now Bride relies on the Web for instant gratification when planning her wedding. Because brides use all forms of media, it’s interesting to note Internet ads only marginally outperform print advertising, which many speakers pointed out should not be dismissed as a dead medium.  Believe it or not, print advertising still has a place (and a pass-on factor) that plays a very important role in the planning process.

But even though print is still in the picture, I attended some interesting presentations on social media and the convergence of technology. It’s been a seismic shift from traditional 1990’s publishing in newspapers to today’s social media publishing, which includes blogging, Flicker, Facebook, Twitter, and personal websites. Not only is it about making content available to everyone, you also have to make sure that same content is accessible exactly the way a reader wants to see it.  For example, laptops, mobile phones and iPads are all tools brides use to plan their weddings. Talk about a convergence of technology! This clip presented by WeddingWire (already a year old) left the room speechless:

The message.Move with the times‘.

Amy Wilkins, Martha Stewart Weddings

Andy Ebon, The Wedding Marketing Network

Throughout the seminar I had several of my own blinding flashes of the obvious. Two in particular were the importance of harnessing the power of social media, and getting to know your client or prospect. For example, Andy Ebon spoke about software such as Flowtown, which compiles profiles from people’s email addresses to help you better understand who your customers and prospects are. And Susan Southerland presented an interesting perspective on four bride personality types and how each can be managed in the best way.

All in all it was a whirlwind week that left me tired and slightly overwhelmed. So was it worth it?  Absolutely!  On the way home my mind was spinning with big plans for my own company. The WMBA showed me that now is an exciting time to be in the wedding planning business. I couldn’t wait to get back to Australia to test out some of these innovative ideas and actually witness their success for myself.

Ms Polka Dot says: I’m green with envy! Sarah from Girl Friday Weddings got to live the dream and attend this renowned event for wedding professionals this year. Thank you for writing this for us – it certainly is an eye opener to see 1500 wedding professionals in the one room!

Sarah of Girl Friday Weddings likes to think of herself as your Personal Assistant, ready to take on any job that will assist you, or take on any job that you don’t want to do. With a range of services on offer from your wedding day co-ordinating to personal shopping, she is the go-to girl to save your sanity!

Photographs taken by Drew Brashler Photography