It’s your big day! You’re marrying the love of your life in a beautifully planned ceremony, surrounded by your nearest and dearest. As you embark on the rest of your life, what could ruin it? Oh, yeah — the price! With the average U.S. wedding nearing $30,000, couples are increasingly looking for ways to cut the costs, but not quality. That’s where wedding sponsors come in.
Why would anyone sponsor your wedding? Two words: Product placement
Let’s say your family/friends love horses. Maybe you even have an Instagram account where many of your followers love horses as well. Tell companies that your wedding will be a celebration involving tons of equestrian enthusiasts. Companies can then subtly get their products in front of the right people. Centerpieces, flowers, everything can be provided by gracious wedding sponsors in a way that meets your style.
You don’t even have to be that specific. Just asking sponsors to help you out can work. Create a different value-add proposition like the number of people who will attend or that your wedding will be blogged about to a number of followers. Or even just having a lot of Facebook friends can help gain wedding sponsors. Or simply just asking can work.
But, why exactly do wedding sponsors get so wrapped up in fairly small weddings? Because they get to be involved in making memories. Subconsciously, people will tie the feeling of your touching wedding with the brand. It’s why celebrities get paid millions to be in a TV commercial. Association. For example, millions of people all like Taylor Swift. If Pepsi puts her in an ad, they will see Taylor and immediately associate their joy for Taylor with their joy for Pepsi. Clever, huh? Wedding sponsors know that when we see their product in the future, we’ll associate it with an amazing day of memories.
In this article, we look at how wedding sponsorship works and how exactly to go about getting it! It can be amazing to get your wedding costs paid just by including a few sponsors!
P.S. If at any point in this article you get overwhelmed, designate a friend to help. Appoint them to be your Best Marketer. It will look great on their resume and help you a ton with the following…
How It Works
Wedding sponsorship can be split into two categories — single sponsorship and multi-sponsorship. The first is where a wedding sponsor will foot the bill for pretty much your entire wedding, everything from catering to decorations. It’s harder to attain, although not impossible. Couples it may appeal to include those having themed weddings, couples with an interesting story interwoven into their relationship, or weddings based around one particular service or company anyway — like a wedding at a hotel where all the guests have a room there too.
A multi-sponsorship wedding is where wedding sponsors from many different companies offer to sponsor different aspects of your big day. You can find one company for flowers, another for music, another willing to cover the venue, etc.
A pro to having multiple wedding sponsors is that the sponsored aspects of your wedding will be cared for by a specialist. So, you’ll have a florist providing flowers, rather than a hotel trying to pick your bouquets! It can be a little harder to organize as you’ll need to approach many different companies with very specialized pitches.
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What Couples Are Most Likely to Get It?
Ultimately, potential sponsors will be looking to advertise to an audience. But, don’t be fooled into thinking wedding sponsorship is only for big, lavish weddings. It is, of course, beneficial for companies to have a target audience pre-assembled for them, i.e. your wedding guests, but it’s by no means a prerequisite. Think about it from a business perspective — they just want to reach anyone you can reach.
So, if you are only planning a wedding for a small number of people to attend, for instance, 50 guests, is there a way you can still spread your wedding (and, by extension, your sponsor) to hundreds or even 1,000+ of individuals? Think outside the box. Do you have a social media presence? Think blogs, Instagram followers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans (even friends) etc. Wedding sponsors will want you to show pictures of your wedding while using their supplies. Couples with followers, whether in ‘real life’ or online can do really well with sponsors. Even if you don’t have a raving fan base, if you can show sponsors that your wedding pictures may show up all over the internet — or in front of the right eyes — they will likely grab on and join you for the ride. Remember — wedding sponsors love to be subtly recognized.
Fortune’s a funny thing, and for some of us, an opportunity might just fall into our laps. Out of the blue, a company could approach you and offer full or partial sponsorship of your wedding. It’s not unheard of, but it is kind of rare. With wedding sponsors, you should expect to do the leg work. Approaching companies, pitching deals, negotiating terms, and finalizing practical arrangements will be your responsibility.
Step 1: Choose Your Sponsors
Loads of us will have an idea of what our wedding might look like, which should help to identify a few companies as a starting point. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are great for inspiration (search by keywords or hashtags). Don’t be afraid to go big, but think about your local area, too.
Are there any up-and-coming brands or businesses in your city? Essentially, what companies are looking for is a bit of free publicity? Remember that this is vital if they are just starting out or expanding. Think about whether you would want your big day associated with them. It will have to be in some way if you strike up a sponsorship deal, so don’t ask “just because.” No one appreciates freeloaders. Show you’re worth it. Sincerity and a genuine interest is beneficial. It will shine through in your favor in the next step after you’ve identified your targets. Ask yourself, “What business could really benefit from becoming a wedding sponsor?”
Step 2: Create a Reason They Should Sponsor Your Wedding and Then Pitch Potential Sponsors
Appealing to companies online is all about creating a brand out of your wedding. If you don’t already have some form of blog or social media account (wedding-based or not) reaching a few hundred followers, you’ll want to create an account on a website like The Knot, Project Wedding, or similar. This will be kind of like your wedding resume — something to send to companies so they can get an overview of you and your partner, along with a cover letter detailing who you are, what you’d like, and what you can offer in return. Companies get loads of correspondence. Find a way to make it memorable and pique their interest early on. Add (relevant) pictures — perhaps of you using their product, lead with a pun, make it colorful…
Also, make sure your friends/family meet their target audience. If your family and friends are into horseback riding, pitch to sponsors in that industry who will appreciate putting their product in front of enthusiasts. Use common sense here. This can be really fun. Having wedding sponsors can really make things cooler and more fun than without.
Step 3: Negotiate the Terms of the Wedding Sponsorship(s)
Communication is key and no matter how good your opening pitch might be, don’t let poor negotiation keep you from clinching the deal. Think of your potential sponsor as a business partner. Be open and sincere with them — but, above all, be polite. Give them a chance to state their terms, too — there will undoubtedly be things they will want in return. Here are some things to consider:
- Your highest / lowest offer – a bit like the highest you’ll go in a bidding auction. Your opposition does not need to know this, but you yourself should know where you will draw the line so as not to end up with something you don’t actually want.
- Confidence – this will show your sponsor that you’re not wasting anyone’s time and that you believe it’s a genuinely good opportunity. A bit like how employers can tell when they’ve received a blanket resume and a tailored one, sponsors will know if you really want them, or just really want any sponsor.
- Compromise – come up with lots of options. That way, if a sponsor suggests something you aren’t keen on, you don’t have to just say no – you can come back with a modified alternative. Be willing to compromise on certain aspects, but don’t let a company take complete control! Saving money is great but you don’t want to end up with a wedding detail you hate because it saved you $100.
Step 4: Finalize the Details
It’s very likely that on your big day you’ll be incredibly busy. Most professional businesses and services will know what they are doing and finish the job to a great standard, but why not nominate somebody to act as your sponsorship middleman?
Your Best Marketer. Appointed king/queen of wedding sponsors. If you’ve kept all your correspondence, which you really should, they can take charge of everything and you can sign it off at the end. It is best to have some kind of written confirmation of what you and the company will be providing each other. Even though it’s likely no money will be changing hands. Although you might agree with a couple of wedding sponsors, it’s important to do as much as possible to minimize disappointment on something way more important — your big day. Let the Best Marketer take care of your wedding sponsors.
In the Media
So, do people actually do this? Well, yes! While some couples have stayed humble and had just one aspect sponsored, others have gone big.
Smaller companies are easier to approach and negotiate deals with, but in 2014 a Florida couple created internet buzz when they sought $30,000 in wedding sponsorship to elope to Thailand. They sought help from Fortune 500 companies, who were keen to get involved after the controversial decision to have company logos on the bride’s dress and the groom’s tuxedo went viral.
Another New York couple got married in front of 7,000 baseball fans, including 500 guests of their own, at the KeySpan Park in Brooklyn. Contributors to the $20,000 price tag of their big day included 1-800-Flowers, who were more than happy to be involved in the baseball-themed celebration.
“I’m OK having wedding sponsors, but I don’t want it to look tacky.”
The above stories are extravagant examples. That’s why they made the news. Not everyone will feel comfortable in front of an audience of 7,000, nor would they want to compromise on something as important as the dress. But, there are lots of options out there for subtle sponsorship.
Why not consider incorporating a logo into name cards or table centerpieces? Wedding sponsors love this as it can get guests talking. Perhaps your food can be provided by a local restaurant for free or at a discount by allowing them to distribute business cards on each table. If your photography is sponsored, you could agree to post out a few thank you notes to them on social media. Or ‘paying’ them back could even be as simple as a shout out from the DJ or band! Treat your wedding sponsors well.
Bear in mind too that, often, logos can already be seen at weddings. Think of how you can capitalize on something that already exists — for example, caterers might have their logo stitched into their uniform already. Perhaps they could put their logo on placemats too? If you’re really opposed to visible logos, why not think about displaying company names in your wedding program too, giving guests the option to check them out themselves if they were really impressed by the service.
But, visible sponsorship isn’t completely necessary. You can have a logo-free sponsored wedding by using your wedding website to advertise and thank sponsors. Visitors are diverted to sponsor’s websites, giving them increased traffic. As mentioned before, if you have an audience, it’s much easier to get your wedding sponsored.
And, if you don’t have an internet audience, consider the options of this couple who sold advertising space at their ceremony and reception — namely on invitations, thank you cards, dinner table scrolls, and a verbal thank you toast. They also took out an ad in their local newspaper to thank the total of 24 companies who contributed to their day and, perhaps not quite as necessary, bought two internet domain names to create further exposure for their wedding sponsors.
Sometimes, aspects of your wedding can be sponsored without any sort of obvious recognition to the sponsor. Kate Middleton didn’t pay for her wedding dress. You can bet luxury fashion house Alexander McQueen gave her the dress simply because they knew people would ask, “Who’s she wearing?”
- Saving money! Your money (or your family’s money) could go towards a more lavish honeymoon or the down payment on your first home as a couple.
- Peace of mind that things will be taken care of professionally — the brands have their reputations on the line when they sponsor you. This makes things easier on you, too since you don’t have to take all the responsibility.
- Your wedding could be bigger as a result — invite friends or relatives you couldn’t originally afford to invite.
- Help a small business get off the ground or boost your local economy.
- It can be a lot of legwork for you and/or your Best Marketer.
- You may have to compromise on certain aspects of your wedding to allow for sponsors.
So, the big question (after the BIG question, of course) — is it worth it? Most people dream of their wedding day and wouldn’t compromise on anything. And that’s fine. But, for some, the expense can be really daunting and the idea of subtle wedding sponsors for certain aspects can be really enticing. It is possible to have a beautifully crafted sponsored wedding, but you’ll probably have to weigh up your position on willingness to compromise and even share the limelight on your big day. Everyone will feel differently on this. But, if you’re curious and keen to stay thrifty, it couldn’t hurt to send out a few emails and scope the interest from businesses near you.
Suggested further reading: These Places Will Rent You a Wedding Dress