** Entries for The Wedding Industry Awards
close at 5pm on 24th October 2012 **
Here's one for you dedicated and hard working wedding industry suppliers who I know enjoy visiting Love My Dress. Two weeks ago, Franky and I attended London to pick up our very first blog award, thanks to Perfect Wedding Magazine and many, many readers and supporters who voted for Love My Dress to become the proud owners of the 2012 'Reader Recognition Award'. I cannot tell you how thrilled both Franky and I were – indeed 'are' about this.
You know, there is research circulating right now that illustrates that couple's planning a wedding don't consider awards to be important – that is, influential to the decision making process when it comes to booking wedding suppliers. I can understand why – I mean, as a newly engaged couple entering the world of weddings, I might not have heard of many, if any of the awarding bodies or organisations out there, so what would any of that mean to me? I do however understand, as a very recent recipient of an industry award, that receiving an award can be an immense morale and confident booster. It can renew a sense of passion and pride and it can generate healthy competition between you and your competitors. Franky and I walked away absolutely beaming when we had collected our award in London the week before last. We're still smiling now. And if a happy wedding supplier/blogger/whatever an awards winner doth make, then surely, all the positivity that awards generate, most only reflect on the quality of service provided to their clients?
As well as winning the award a couple of weeks ago, I'm now busy preparing for meetings in London with my fellow judging panel members, where I will be participating in shortlisting finalists for The Wedding Industry Awards. I am so proud to be a member of this judging panel, alongside some industry greats (who I secretly hero-worship), including cake designer extraordinatire Peggy Porschen, Miranda Eason (Editor of You & Your Wedding Magazine), premiere/luxury wedding planner Sarah Haywood and designer Sassi Holford as well as Sky News presenter Sarah Hewson – a recent bride herself who knows a thing or two about being faced with a myriad of wedding-day choices and decisions to have to make (and who, I might add, is the most excellent awards ceremony compere).
For those not in the know, the inaugural Wedding Industry Awards took place at the Café de Paris in
London on 18th January this year. (scroll down a little further to view a video featuring some of the winners being interviewed on the evening of the awards ceremony. It was such a brilliant, fun, celebratory evening; let's face it, it's really not very often that this industry gets an opportunity to hang out together (from many far flung corners of the country) to glam up, sip champagne and let their hair down for an evening, let alone have the privilege of a lucky few being presented with an esteemed award. It's usually a relentless roll call of weekends spent shooting weddings and staying up until ungodly hours editing images, blogging, designing stationery, up with he larks to ensure the best flowers are selected for styling the bride's bouquets – etc etc – any wedding industry supplier reading this will know the score (and I sympathise with the sleep deprivation issue my friend!).
Any industry that largely comprises of self-employed folk working hard to make a living deserves a party and a bit of recognition for their efforts every once in a while, and the wedding industry is no different. Which is why I'm so very genuinely excited right now that the 2013 Wedding Awards is all set to take place early next year (with a judging panel that this time also includes the utterly fabulous and ridiculously talented Severin Hubert of Hepburn Collection and Richard Wakefield of FX Films).
Entries for the 2013 Wedding Industry Awards close at 5pm on 24th October and I want to part use this feature to remind and encourage anyone who hasn't entered yet to do so before it's too late. If you're not in it, you can't win it. It's simple. And this is the only awarding organisation designed to create a level playing field for the one-man self employed business to pitch for recognition against the established brand who employs a workforce. It's all about relativity and fairness see – something that the brains behind The Wedding Industry Awards, Damian Bailey, has worked hard to put in place.
Entry to the Wedding Industry Awards is just £50 – a fee I very strongly believe is fair and representative of the quality and callibre of judging panel members, shortlisting methodology and all round superb organisation of these awards.
I thought that as there are now just a couple of weeks left to enter the awards this time round, that it would be helpful to address some of the questions that you might have about the awards, by interviewing their founder Damian. Oh, and from hereon, we'll use the abbreviation 'TWIA', if that's OK with you?
The video below was taken at judging panel members meeting in London in December last year. *Ahem, excuse the look, I was full of cold and had slept about 2 hours the night prior!*
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Film Production Copyright (c) 2012, Lilac Films
I asked Damian a round of questions about the awards that I figured my readers would also be keen to hear the reply on…
What inspired you to set up an entirely new awards
system for the wedding industry?
As a wedding photographer,
I go all over the country photographing weddings. I see, meet and work with
some amazingly talented and dedicated suppliers. Couples planning their
weddings have very little to go on to help them decide which suppliers to book
and could benefit from this accumulated knowledge we have as suppliers ‘on the
TWIA aims to sit between
the word of mouth that drives the industry and suppliers’ own marketing. We
want to recognise and reward the very best wedding suppliers whilst helping
people make better educated decisions when looking for suppliers for their wedding.
Who are the awards designed for?
The Wedding Industry
Awards are aimed at all wedding suppliers and anyone organising a wedding. We
want the TWIA logo to become the kite mark for the wedding industry – a trusted
mark of the highest quality.
How do the awards work and how do they differ to
other wedding awards?
Wedding suppliers enter
the awards and invite their eligible clients to vote for them. This is key: TWIA relies on suppliers actively engaging with the Awards by entering
themselves, rather than relying on an editorial panel to draw up a shortlist on
which anyone can vote. We also have a nomination
process whereby anyone can nominate a great supplier they know. This is simply
a means by which people can tell us about fantastic businesses. We then invite
them to enter (though suppliers can enter without being nominated).
By only allowing an
entrant’s eligible wedding clients to vote, we get a much more useful and
reliable indication of the quality of the suppliers concerned. TWIA is no
beauty parade voted for by friends and family!
We are very keen to create
a level playing field to allow all sizes and types of suppliers to compete with
each other fairly. To achieve this, we look very closely at the percentage of
eligible voters that actually vote for each entrant, rather than just totting
up the total number of votes. We are all about quality, not just quantity!
Furthermore, we operate
the awards on both a regional and national basis enabling us to highlight so
many more great suppliers. Many suppliers only operate on a regional basis, so
this aspect of TWIA is really important.Finally, our judging panel
that presides over the national winners is second to none with real breadth and
expertise in all areas of the industry.
All these things give TWIA
reliability, integrity and credibility.
Why did you decide to let people nominate suppliers
in addition to them entering themselves?
Nominating is different to
voting and entering and we have had to be very clear with our use of the
terminology we use. So, to clarify, nomination is simply a means by which
anyone can tell us about a great wedding supplier they know of or have worked
with. All nominees are then automatically emailed to tell them they have been
nominated and to invite them to enter.
This works really well as
the nominator gets a warm glow from having done a good deed, the nominee is
chuffed to have been nominated for an award by someone who respects their work,
and we find another fantastic business within the industry. The nomination
process taps into the word of mouth that drives the industry. One of the things
that TWIA relies on is people’s desire to shout about great wedding suppliers.
suppliers in such a diverse industry is very difficult so we wanted to broaden
the possibilities for people to find out about the Awards. If word of mouth
drives the wedding industry why shouldn’t it drive its awards too? We have had
over 800 nominations this year so far and the vast majority have entered as a
How many entries did you receive last year?
In the inaugural 2012
awards, there were over 2,000 entries from suppliers up and down the country,
who received more than 22,000 votes in total.
How have The Wedding Industry Awards grown over the
In addition to the new judges on
our expert panel, we’ve introduced some new categories this year including:
Wedding Live Music Entertainment
Non-Musical Wedding Entertainment
We’ve also teamed up with Guides for Brides to create the
Best Wedding Industry Website award, which all 2013 entrants are automatically
entered into, and the Best Newcomer category, which all new businesses since 1st
November are eligible for.
This year, we have also
introduced a blog to occupy the space between our web site and social media, as
well as introducing an entry fee for all entrants. This nominal £50 fee enables
us to organise and run the awards in addition to marketing and advertising TWIA
for the benefit of all those who participate whilst keeping things 100% fair.
Our independence is key to TWIA’s rigour and fairness and this is only possible
thanks to the entry fee.
We continue to examine the
regional borders, the award categories we use and how we can further enhance
all entrants’ exposure to the marketplace in an effort to involve as many
people in the industry as possible.
What are the benefits of entering The Wedding
Just by entering TWIA
suppliers are putting their hands up as one of the best in the business.
Obviously, there is the golden chance to be shortlisted or win an award voted
for by clients. Success in TWIA has huge marketing potential for a business in
a crowded and competitive marketplace where differentiation is key; TWIA offers
Every entrant has a fully
editable profile in the ‘Find a Supplier’ section of the web site. This helpful
planning tool is currently experiencing over 10,000 searches per month. TWIA
entrants, shortlisted companies and winners are considered trusted suppliers
and thousands of people organising weddings are using the web site to find the
best suppliers both regionally and nationwide.
We feedback all voter
scores and comments (anonymously) to each entrant at the point at which they
are no longer in the competition. The feedback we have received shows that this
is an incredibly popular and useful benefit of being involved in the awards.
How are The Wedding Industry Awards helpful to
brides planning their weddings?
Anyone planning a wedding
has two main ways of finding the suppliers they need. Firstly, via the
supplier’s own marketing and advertising. Secondly, they have the ‘word of
mouth’ recommendations of their friends, family and colleagues. This is based
on direct user experience but only that of the person who is doing the
TWIA sits in the middle of
this and aims to offer an industry voice. Companies who are shortlisted or win
an award are given the seal of approval by their clients and by our judging
panel and this is a very strong endorsement.
Anyone organising a
wedding can search all the current entrants and previous shortlisted and
winning companies. We aim to develop this search facility in the future to make
it even more useful to both entrants and ‘searchers’ alike.
How did you curate the judging panel?
From the outset, it was
vital that our panel was respected by both wedding professionals and by anyone
organising a wedding. After extensive research, we picked up the phone to the
experts we thought would suit TWIA best. Every potential judge we approached
accepted our invitation (bar one who said no because he had just retired from
several other panels and needed a rest!). They fully understood and backed the
ethos behind the awards and we were delighted to welcome them on board.
With the likes of Sarah
Haywood, Annabel Beeforth, Peggy Porschen, Sassi Holford, the UKAWP and Miranda Eason, amongst others, this is without doubt the most expert and experienced
panel ever brought together in the wedding industry. New judges to the panel
this year include experts with specific focus on the hair, entertainment,
venue, catering, videography and florist categories. There are still some gaps
and we are talking to several other industry leaders about joining the panel
for TWIA 2014.
It’s worth mentioning that
no single judge has sole discretion over any award. The vast majority of the
judging process is based on voter scores and comments, but our judges take
their role of examining the votes in addition to entrants’ web sites and TWIA
profiles very seriously. Each expert gives the panel their detailed feedback
based on their speciality to help the decision process when it comes to the
regional and national winners. It’s very much a team effort!
We are in the process of
finalising the details for the awards event where we announce the national
winners but we can confirm that it will be in London in January (most likely
the third week). At the inaugural Awards event back in January this year we
decided to move away from the ‘sit-down-meal’ type of awards night.
suppliers to be able to meet and network with as many people as possible; to
build contacts and relationships with others in their industry and region. To
do this we felt we needed to make sure that people weren’t tethered to a table
all evening. We wanted to have a party at which the awards were presented – and
that’s exactly what we got! This year’s event will be even bigger and better.
You can register for updates on our web site to be the first to hear about the
What is your favourite part about orchestrating The
Wedding Industry Awards?
I really love to see new
talent emerging. We were all there once and TWIA can be a great platform for
new businesses to get a head start. Our Best Newcomer award is designed with
this in mind
TWIA is a pretty new
concept for the wedding industry. There are other awards that run off the back
of wedding magazines but TWIA is very different from those. It’s exciting to be
breaking new ground through TWIA being independent, client-voted and offering
all entrants a greater industry profile
As with all new ventures,
running the awards is not easy but we are keen to create something useful and
respected in our industry and have been delighted with the support we have
received so far. There are lots more things we want to do with TWIA, so watch
Thank you so much Damian for taking the time to share your thoughts and plans for The Wedding Industry Awards.
If you would like to enter the awards (and I strongly recommend you do, you can enter via this page on the Wedding Industry Awards website.
Good luck everyone!