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why i killed weddingwire ~ deep thoughts on bs ~ tulsa wedding photographer

I’m going to preface this by saying that there are some really, really great vendors out there that have awards from both The Knot.com and WeddingWire.com. 

They’re great people, hard working, and awesome wedding vendors. 

But there’s also a bunch of cheap, dishonest, really horrible, no good, very bad people out there that love making money off of clients that don’t know what they’re getting into until it’s too late that have them as well. 

 

And forgive me if I’m bursting anyone’s fantasy that the wedding industry as a whole is this unicorn-humping, rainbow-sharting, fairytale lovegasm of Pinterest-induced warm fuzzies.

It’s not. I promise. 

It can be a really scary place, actually. You can get screwed and left wondering what happened faster than you can say Kardashian (see what I did there) and you won’t know it until it’s too late to change it. 

 

Hi. I’m Brett. And I’m kind of fiercely protective of your wedding day. 

 

During your search for vendors, you’re going to see a lot of WeddingWire “Bride’s Choice” awards, and a lot of “Best of Weddings” awards from The Knot. 

Do not, under any circumstances, base your final decision on these reviews or awards. At all. These awards are kind of like a suspicious rash you get after that fling with that person you don’t remember from that dating website you cancelled your subscription to shortly thereafter. 

A lot of people have it, you can get it fairly easily, and it’s something you probably don’t want. 

The trouble is that really great vendors have these awards. And really horrible vendors have these awards. And WeddingWire and The Knot couldn’t give a flying rip about who gets the awards, so long as their logo is posted on vendor’s websites and traffic is directed back to them. The idea itself is pure marketing genius; take an award-hungry industry, shower them with “awards” for little to no effort, give them a badge they can post on their website saying how cool they are, and make that badge lead traffic back to your site. 

Holy ingenious marketing, Batman. 

The issue I have with The Knot is that vendors that I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to, both locally and nationally, have repeatedly won their ” Best of Weddings” awards for several years in a row. Case in point, a local photography company in town sent me 5 weddings last year, not because they were kind and just love me that much, but because the couples had such a horrific experience during their engagement session, they fired this company and came to me. That company has won awards from The Knot for 4 years running. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in their award system. 

I saved my favorite for last though. I need a drumroll. Anyone?

 

This all started with an email I got from WeddingWire a couple of days ago. They were sweet enough to let me know I’d won the Couple’s Choice Awards for 2014. This from having a WeddingWire account that was started years ago that I never did anything with, and clients started finding it and leaving me really kind reviews after their weddings. I figured that couldn’t be such a horrible thing, so I left it up. When you would search for “Birdsong Photography reviews”, all of the reviews I’d been left on WeddingWire showed up.

Hey. That’s kind of handy. Sweet. 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 5.36.46 PM

Screen shot of actual award. Breathtaking, no?

 

 

All of that was fine and dandy until I read the last sentence. 

“The Couples’ Choice Awards recognize your business as amongst the top 5% of wedding professionals nationwide.”

 

Dear WeddingWire, that is an outrageous and blatant lie. I sincerely doubt with all of my heart that any of your employees could even name the top 5% of wedding vendors in this country, and I absolutely promise you that while I am busy as heck and thankfully so, I am not remotely near the top 5% of wedding photographers. But thanks for the ego rub. 

 

So finally, to confirm my suspicions on just how easy it was for anyone with a pulse to get these awards, I created a fake WeddingWire account.

 

Behold. John Doe Photography. Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 3.52.21 PM

 

 

John Doe Photography had zero wedding photos posted in his gallery, was in business for all of 3 hours total, and ended up with 15 reviews in a matter of minutes. Note that he was even WeddingWire Rated.

Ooooooohhh. Ahhhhhhh. 

With the help of some wedding vendors and past and current brides, reviews started pouring for John Doe. Even I was able to review John Doe 4 separate times anonymously. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 3.17.52 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 3.40.29 PM

 

 

Now, while this was all in great fun and at WeddingWire’s complete and total expense, it confirmed several things; anyone with a pulse can make a WeddingWire account and get reviews, and absolutely anyone can leave reviews for someone on WeddingWire. This is great when it’s clients talking about how great a vendor was. This is really bad when shady vendors leave themselves reviews and have friends/family/stoner friends leave reviews for them to make them look more trustworthy than they are. 

 

So. All that to say. The awards from The Knot and WeddingWire, until they put more effort into knowing who they’re flinging awards at and not just silently laughing at all the schmucks marketing for them, unfortunately mean jack squat. 

 

Which can all boil down to my mantra I’m going to tattoo on every new client I talk to……research your vendors. 

Research. Your. Vendors. 

 

And don’t hire John Doe. 

 

B

 

 

  • Kelley Kakes - That was a mother-beautiful blog post, dear boy.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Fantastic post! I wish all brides knew this! Just wait until John Doe gets his 2015 award! πŸ™‚ FYI, Awards are based in star rating and number of reviews the prior year, so low price busy studios get awards more easily…ReplyCancel

  • erica - lol, friend! you ARE awesome. this is hysterical (and so true), and it *almost* made me delete all of our hard earned WW reviews so proudly posted on our fan-page! ;P seriously, though, great post. wish we thought of it 1st!ReplyCancel

  • Kaylynn Marie - I. Am. Dying. Best article I’ve read all year!ReplyCancel

  • Paul - This is the funniest, most honest and real article I’ve read on wedding photography in a very long time!ReplyCancel

  • YURIY NUTSA - was not aware it was that easy to create fake accountReplyCancel

  • Jason - How much does it cost to hire John Doe? πŸ™‚

    Great article.

    Mind if I ask are you listing your photography service anywhere else then?ReplyCancel

    • Brett - Hahaha John Doe went out of business shortly thereafter and was last seen making bad decisions in Vegas while smelling of cheap whiskey and vanilla body spray. My entire business at the moment comes from word of mouth, or the occasional wedding show I do, which are few and far between.ReplyCancel

  • Truth Talker - Oh my God I LOVE this – hysterical. As someone who just signed up with The KNOT to be a featured vender I will have to think twice about putting their award on my page. Sadly consumers do not know this and see the best of weddings everywhere….ReplyCancel

  • Erika Szostak - Hahaha, this is brilliant (both the writing and the idea) and super enlightening. Thanks for confirming something I’d suspected anyway and for doing a great service not only to brides but to your fellow wedding vendors with this article. Awesome blog post, well done πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Maria - This is BRILLIANT! Thanks for writing and posting. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Dan - Excellent article! You know, as sad as it is that the process to get these “awards” is a cake walk, brides actually fall for it. I’ve had a couple of brides comment on going with a certain vendor because they “won” these “awards” and it made me cringe. Here in Cincinnati, this fake CityVoter A-List is the same thing… a nice title for nothing more than a huge address book of people willing to vote for you. None of these “awards” are based on merit in the slightest bit. But as long as they drive traffic and convince brides, it won’t end.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Seriosuly, I want to be your friend, this is one of the funniest, most sarcastic (and best!) articles I’ve ever read!ReplyCancel

  • patsy brown - will you marry me? i’m in total LOVE with EVERYTHING about you! MEEP!ReplyCancel

  • Lea Sophie - This post is amazing, I laughed my ass off reading it. I recently discovered that anyone can leave a review as well although I’m hoping that it will turn into a handy option for my clients to leave me reviews… I wish more people researched their vendors, I think I’d land more gigs that way as well since I don’t have a zillion reviews and awards. – You have landed yourself a new follower / admirer with this article. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Kara - I’ve been posting about this kind of scammy award behavior for years…you have to admit that wedding wire are crafty little devils the way they get free advertising on so many websites by handing out a BS award. I’ve had several phony reviews posted on here over the years that I had to dispute, and the last time they wouldn’t take one down. They basically told me that wedding wire doesn’t verify the reviews and as long as someone can show them a contract that says they hired you they’ll leave the review up. Thing is, they won’t show the vendor the contract, so you have no way of knowing whether someone just printed off a random contract and filled your info out and signed your name. They don’t verify anything with the vendor, just the reviewer. Typical of wedding industry companies that aren’t there to do anything but sell advertising. I told them they have no integrity, so I doubt I’ll be winning any “highly prestigious awards” from them anytime in the future. I’ll go cry myself to sleep about it, boo hoo.ReplyCancel

  • Joey Mac - YES EXACTLY! Bang on. I was going to do an article about the Canadian wedding awards also. A money grab:

    https://canadianweddingawards.com/

    Do you really think I’m going to fly to Toronto to find out that the top in each category are actually the top? Looks like the same vendors won 4 categories. Wow that really shows that a lot have applied, and where are all of the actual great photographers? Not on the list in the wedding industry awards (for the most part)

    They forgot the cinematography for Atlantic Canada and I finally got a refund out of their $85.00 fee. I am leaving weddings anyway because commercial is where it’s at for me!

    The thing about cinematography, is that us as wedding cinematographers have more power than the whole wedding magazine and award publishing industry combined and we can eat them alive since video is so damn powerful. I just stay off the radar though and get bookings from referrals and photographers. It’s so easy to simplify and find people that want to send you business.

    I won two awards last year and I don’t even put them on my site because they aren’t even important! Unless I make the EventDV awards (which I won’t), ignore the rest. LOL

    Canadian Wedding Industry Awards blew it. Maybe I should start my own show =)

    from VancouverReplyCancel

  • Deevo - Just came across this read. I keep my awards at my house where my dog chews on them when he is irritated. I won the award for several years running now, and to be honest have no idea, havent advertised with either of them for many years. I would love to repost this with your permission. ThanksReplyCancel

    • Brett - Hey! You may absolutely repost. Glad you enjoyed it!ReplyCancel

  • Kevin Walsh - Brett, you’ve nailed it. I’m sharing this with some other people in the industry.ReplyCancel

  • michael - Spot on !!!ReplyCancel

  • Dan Hubbard - Rolling out a site and would like to link your article.ReplyCancel

  • Logan Franklin - I just almost signed up for WeddingWire’s vendor advertising at 2k/year…glad I did my due diligence!! Thanks for speaking the truth!ReplyCancel

  • Anna - I LOVE this Brett! As a still newbie wedding photog I got roped into the WeddingWire nonsense which don’t get me wrong I think it “helped” at least get my name out there but good grief I’ve also gotten plenty of “go no where inquiries” love/hate relationship with it. LOVE Ya!!!!!! ❀️ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - This just confirmed everything I thought an I’m also laughing like an idiot. BRAVO. Now I just wish I could share this on a board that creatives post on (who flash these awards like it’s their job) without getting spit at.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Owens - That. Was. Amazing. I read every word, laughed, cried, and then read it again. I have a free account, and was seriously thinking about paying for an account, and decided to research Weddingwire first. Thank you for saving me from myself. I do flowers and event design. Most of my business comes from word of mouth from former brides, or someone at one of my weddings. The free account has sent a few clients my way, but my work and work ethic speaks for itself! Kudos to this blog post and to you!ReplyCancel

  • Erik Figueroa - You just save me a ton of money and a huge headache. Thank you!!!ReplyCancel

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