Why Most Wedding Awards Mean Nothing
As Kent Wedding Photographers with lots of tips and tricks to share, we’re always trying to inform and educate our clients (and the public at large) as to that crazy industry that is ‘the Wedding Industry’ in that short but crucial time which is your wedding planning. One issue we’ve circled many times is that of wedding awards, something that comes up time and time again. Finally, we’re going to lift the lid on wedding awards and let you in on all the dirty secrets and hard-facts. This won’t make us popular, and it’s controversial, but wedding awards are (almost always) meaningless. Here’s why…
Why Wedding Awards Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean…
Firstly, I have to say that of course there are some amazing wedding venues and wedding photographers, etc… out there that have awards from the like of Best Brides Magazine, The Knot.com, The Wedding Industry Awards, Kent Wedding Awards, Essex Wedding Awards, London Wedding Awards, WeddingWire.com, Hitched.com, Fearless Wedding Awards, YourNameHere awards, TheWeddingSpot… (The list goes on…) And in no way do I want to belittle them. What I do want to point out is that the same awards these wonderful suppliers have, are also held by some pretty atrocious wedding suppliers as well… In fact with so many categories from so many magazines and so many websites, it’s actually quite hard to find a wedding supplier who doesn’t have a wedding award these days…
Anyone looking through the internet, Facebook wedding groups, and/or their local weddings fairs, are being inundated with wedding photographers, flower companies, wedding planners, toastmasters, etc… who are all ‘AWARD WINNING’. Whether it’s the Kent Wedding Awards, The TWIA Awards, Best Brides Magazine award, all too often you can see: ‘Best wedding xyz of 2018’ plastered across websites and banners anywhere and everywhere you look.
Many Brides & Grooms look for these awards as a way of sorting the best options. You’ve no doubt heard your friends wax lyrical that their ‘wedding photographer has won soooo many awards!’, but what they call an award, we call a deceptive marketing scheme.
During your search for your perfect wedding photographer in Kent, your ideal Videographer in Essex, or Dream Wedding Venue in London, you will see “Bride’s Choice” awards, “Best of Weddings” awards, “Wedding Expert” awards, and (our favourite) “Wedding Award Finalists” badges everywhere.
What this article will hopefully show you – is that you should not base your decision to book a wedding venue or wedding photographer, etc.. based on these ‘awards’.
Hooray – Everyone is a Finalist!
So the first major problem we have with wedding awards, is that many of them hand out ‘finalist’ badges to absolutely EVERY entrant. So basically, you get one of these badges by paying for it. So when you see a ‘blabla wedding award finalist 2013’, the only thing you can infer from this, is that they paid to enter an award that year. It says absolutely nothing else, just that they paid to enter. In fact, the only other thing you could possibly say is that they paid to enter and didn’t win. Which leads us to our next point…
Wedding Awards Are Only Given Out to People Who Pay for Them
This brings us to the heart of the issue. Wedding awards are given out exclusively by for-profit companies. Whether it’s a bridal magazine that wants to sell advertising space, a website that wants to sell advertising space, an industry guild/society that charges membership fees, or even one of the many niche wedding awards companies that makes money mainly from the big swanky awards dinner they force their paid entrants to attend, the people handing out these awards are in it for the money.
These companies make money almost exclusively from wedding suppliers, in the following ways:
1) Wedding Suppliers have to pay to enter.
2) Wedding Suppliers have to pay to attend the big swanky award dinner to find out they won. (Sometimes £100’s a ticket).
3) Wedding Suppliers may need to pay for membership to a society/guild before they’re even allowed to pay to enter.
4) Wedding Suppliers are often buying advertising space from the magazine/website who are running the awards, because:
5) The more people entering the competition, the more magazines sold and the bigger the award/event, and finally:
6) If it’s a ‘people’s vote’ decided award, wedding suppliers are now throwing tonnes of traffic to these companies’ websites (traffic that they need, to justify all the expensive advertising/memberships they sell).
So even when it’s the public deciding the winner (see below), the entire set-up is run by a for-profit company – whose primary interest is profit, not ‘wedding excellence’. This leads to a whole host of problems of misrepresentation and false-implications that we’ll get into below.
But hang on… why do wedding suppliers themselves fall for it?!
Why Wedding Suppliers Love Wedding Awards – Marketing, Marketing, Marketing…
It’s a win-win for wedding companies: pure marketing, and it’s easy for them to do. The Wedding industry is super keen on awards, for both self-aggrandisement (who doesn’t want to be told they’re amazing?) as well as use as a marketing tool to brides and grooms… (we can stick AWARD WINNING on everything and more couples will think we’re amazing and hire us). These awards require relatively little effort or establishment – so rather than being an award for a lifetime of excellence – any brand new company or venue can (and often do) win.
So you pay to enter and you definitely get a ‘finalist’ badge, then you have an awards company who are financially invested in making sure you enter again each year – and surprise, surprise, you win very soon. Is it any wonder that in a recent survey of our peers as well as some digging on these companies finalists’ lists, that most wedding companies win the top award within 2-3 years (2-3 entries) of first entering? Wow, companies get VERY good very quickly in the wedding industry don’t they…
And once they’ve received that award, do they rest on their laurels? No, now they’re entering more and different awards companies’ contests, to build up that long string of award titles that they can prominently list on their websites and banners, and basically shove in the faces of potential clients.
Not to mention, with so many companies claiming awards to their name (at a recent wedding fair we saw over 90% of the stands claiming to be award winning), many wedding suppliers almost feel obligated to collect them just to keep up!
‘Ahhhh but what about People’s Choice Awards, they’re voted for by real people so must be more legit – right?!’ – I’m afraid not…
People’s Choice Awards & Public Vote Awards – The Worst Of The Bunch
Firstly, the very idea of a public vote kind of makes a mockery of the award itself if you think about it… Can you any longer say that this award based on skill? Not really, not if ANYONE can vote, as then we open a whole host of problems. Are the votes only from industry experts or peers? No. Are the votes restricted to people who have had direct interaction with the company/entrant? No. Can absolutely anyone vote? Yes, that’s the point, and that’s why it ultimately means nothing.
To win a “Bride’s Choice Award”, whether it’s by an open public vote, or even restricting it to reviews from past clients of the company, simply makes it a popularity contest if anyone can vote or review. We’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve been contacted being asked to vote for a venue or colleague – I’m sure you’ve also seen the shared Facebook posts “please vote for me in the xyz award….” If my mum, best friend, and random Facebook acquaintances can vote and leave reviews, then the ultimate winner is potentially ‘whoever mobilised the most friends’, not the best wedding photographer…
Let’s not forget – it’s massively in the award companies best interest to have their suppliers do this… More votes = more traffic to their website = better SEO and web presence = more unique visitors they can claim = more money they can charge for advertising. It’s in their interest for absolutely anyone to vote, for whatever reason.
…aaaand You Still Need To Pay To Win.
Our favourite example of where this went right and still ended up being so very wrong? We know a wedding photographer in Kent who was listed on a popular national wedding supplier website, had forgotten they were even listed, however some lovely previous clients had found her listing and left positive reviews. These reviews stacked up into her actually winning an award – but, and here’s the best part, when they contacted her to say she had won, the website asked for a payment to enter. Comically, she refused and the award went to another photographer – soooo did the people’s choice really win that year? Clearly not.
There Are So Many Wedding Awards Now – Now The Awards Are Pointless!
So whether it’s the magazine awards, the online voted awards, the online reviewed awards, the local, regional or national awards (and various combinations in-between)… There’s just too many of them. And now, you’re hard pushed to find any wedding supplier in London who doesn’t have some sort of ‘people’s choice’ or ‘experts favourite’ award. In fact we’ve even heard clients defend their wedding suppliers by saying “oh but our videographer was awarded from a NATIONAL magazine…” but couldn’t name the magazine and hadn’t heard of them – and were surprised to find out that that magazine stopped being printed 10 years ago…..! Not quite the accolade of excellence they were lead to believe by their wedding videographer.
So now we’re at a point where everyone has one, including the terrible wedding suppliers. The kinds of wedding suppliers who feature in our cowboys and scams kind of articles…
We know plenty of objectively terrible companies with amazing awards. Some recent examples? There’s the photographer who recently went to prison, but before he went he continued to take bookings ‘cash-in-hand’ for weddings he knew he could never shoot, spending up the money before his long incarceration. Has anyone contacted the numerous awards companies who bestowed him with awards to ask why they would acclaim and reward someone who turned out to be a clear cowboy and rogue?!
Furthermore, there is another Kent Wedding Photographer who we continually get 3-4 bookings a year from, but not because she refers us – because she offers free engagement sessions and her potential clients are so disappointed with their engagement photos they come to us for re-shoots and their wedding photos. This photographer has two national awards and several Kent regional awards for ‘excellence’, ‘best engagement photography’, and ‘best wedding photographer’.
…that says it all for us.
What’s The Harm – So Everyone’s A Winner – So What?
There are two ways in which wedding awards (run as they are now by various for-profit companies), are detrimental to both you – the client, and us – the wedding industry as a whole.
Firstly, as we’ve hopefully illustrated above, these awards – often bestowed for reasons of profit rather than actual excellence – lull consumers into a false sense of excellence that doesn’t correspond with the reasons why they actually won.
Secondly, small wedding businesses are pressured to enter these awards and attend these ceremonies – spending lots of time and money (as well as pestering past clients for endless votes or reviews on different websites), which they could/should be investing in their business, or spending with their families.
Often it’s the new small businesses who feel pressured into chasing these awards, which is ironic to us as surely its the newer businesses who should be least likely to enter or win when competing with the more established companies who don’t bother.
Which leads us to our final point…
The Best Wedding Suppliers Don’t Bother With Awards
Elite wedding venues, elite wedding photographers, the busiest and most successful Make-Up-Artists and Videographers – rarely do they bother entering wedding awards competitions.
As established and skilled wedding professionals who have been providing high-level service to brides and grooms for many years, they simply don’t need to enter awards. Their work speaks for itself.
So brides, grooms, don’t choose your suppliers for their awards badges. Choose them for their products, the quality of their service, and because you fall in love with what they do.
“We’re a Wedding Award Company And We’re Not Guilty of All of the Above…”
So you’re a wedding award who: 1) isn’t for profit, 2) has long established awards dating over decades, 3) giving only peer and/or expert reviewed awards to: 4) only the best wedding suppliers who have been in the industry for a long time…?
Really? Are you all those things?! Then please get in touch, we would love to enter and also promote you. In fact we’ll even make a blog post exclusively about you for our clients and the world to know. But if you can’t guarantee any of the above, then you are guilty of at least some of what we have mentioned – and as such we stand by what we say.
London & Kent Wedding Photographer Mykey Day
Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.