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.
If you have a large circle of friends and family or a social media following, companies may be willing to sponsor everything from centerpieces to your dress in order to get their products in front of the right people.
Below, we explain how wedding sponsorship works and how exactly to go about getting sponsored.
How It Works
Wedding sponsorship can be split into two categories — single sponsorship and multi-sponsorship.
In a single sponsorship arrangement, the wedding sponsor will foot the bill for pretty much your entire wedding — everything from catering to decorations.
This type of sponsorship is 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 accepts sponsors from many different companies for different aspects of the big day.
For example, one company might sponsor flowers, another might cover entertainment, and a third might provide the venue.
A benefit to having multiple wedding sponsors is that the sponsored aspects of your wedding will be cared for by a specialist (e.g., a professional florist will provide the flowers).
However, this type of sponsorship can be a little harder to organize since you’ll need to approach a variety of companies with specialized pitches.
What Couples Are Most Likely to Get Sponsors?
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’re 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 thousands of individuals?
Think outside the box. Do you have a prominent social media presence? A blog with strong readership or a large network on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook will attract sponsors.
Wedding sponsors will want you to share pictures of your wedding that highlight their products or services. Highly social couples, 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’ll likely grab on and join you for the ride.
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. Most couples should expect to do the leg work on their own.
Approaching companies, pitching deals, negotiating terms, and finalizing practical arrangements will be your responsibility.
Step 1: Choose Your Sponsors
You probably have an idea of what your 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?
No one appreciates freeloaders. Show you’re worth it. Sincerity and genuine interest are beneficial. It’ll shine through in your favor in the next step after you’ve identified your targets.
Ask yourself, “What business could really benefit from becoming my wedding sponsor?”
Step 2: Prepare Your Pitch
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 the company’s 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
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: The company doesn’t need to know this, but you yourself should know where you’ll draw the line so as not to end up with a sponsorship 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 dislike because it saved you $100.
Step 4: Finalize the Deal
It’s very likely that on your big day you’ll be incredibly busy. Most professional businesses and services will know what they’re doing and finish the job to a great standard, but why not nominate somebody to act as your sponsorship middleman?
Your “Best Marketer” might be your maid of honor, best man, or someone else from your family or wedding party. They’ll act as the appointed king/queen of wedding sponsors.
If you’ve kept all your correspondence, which you should, this person 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 provide to each other.
So, do people actually do this? Well, yes! While some couples have 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.
The couple asked for 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.
Subtle Sponsorship Tips
The above stories are extravagant examples. 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, as well, that logos can already be seen at many weddings. Think of how you can capitalize on something that already exists — for example, logos on server uniforms or placemats.
If you’re really opposed to visible logos, why not think about displaying company names in your wedding program, 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 a couple who sold advertising space at their Mexico 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 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.
- Professional service: Brands have their reputations on the line when they sponsor you, so you can expect quality. This makes things easier on you since you don’t have to take all the responsibility for your arrangements.
- Expanding the guestlist: Your wedding could be bigger as a result of your sponsorships — invite friends or relatives you couldn’t originally afford to invite.
- Do good on your big day: If all goes well, you might help a small business get off the ground or boost your local economy.
- Effort: It can be a lot of legwork for you and/or your Best Marketer.
- Compromise: You may have to compromise on certain aspects of your wedding to allow for sponsors — for example, choosing your second-choice venue or using certain colors.
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 about 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.