Also, a dive into reviews: the real, the fake and the biased.
Fraudulent business tactics, false advertising and empty leads. These companies exist solely by exploiting small businesses. Their main source of income is finding new vendors, who are just starting out, and pressure selling them into a 12 month contract with tons of hidden fees.
The Top 10 Minneapolis, MN Affordable Wedding Photographers.
Sounds convenient, right, If i just had a list for you? Unfortunately, theres no way to create an actual un-biased list, because everyones definition of the "best" is different. It's that simple. If you stick to a single article you are missing opportunities to potentially find vendors who could be a better fit. Not to mention, The Knot is biased, and only lists wedding pros that pay for their premium advertising.
Best Of Clickbait.
The Knot and WeddingWire love clickbait headlines. They constantly release articles titled: “Top 15 Affordable Wedding Videographers in Minneapolis” or "The 25 Best Wedding DJ's in Duluth, Minnesota." but it's all a load of crap because their database consists of amateur vendors who were duped into joining, and veteran vendors that have been site members for 7+ years for the sole purpose of showing off a "Best Of" badge online. The "Best Of" badges are participation awards that cost $5,000 annually. Honestly, the wedding industry is full of meaningless awards, especially the photography/videography categories.
There is no single website that knows who "The Top" vendors are because it's not possible for a single source to know every single vendor and fairly compare them.
Real Negative Reviews Removed, Fake Positive Reviews Posted.
The reality is you cannot trust reviews. The following websites allow users to “contest” their negative reviews: Yelp, Facebook, WeddingWire, WeddingPro and The Knot. There are companies, like remove.co who guarantee negative review removal on any platform for any industry, including lawyers, realtors and even health care facilities.
While its expensive and time consuming to remove reviews, it's actually much easier to post fake positive ones. Some fake reviews are even posted by Google Local Guides, since becoming a local guide requires the bare minimum.
There are organizations in Eastern Europe and all around Asia that primarily focus on creating fake reviews. They refer to themselves as"Reputation Managers" or "SEO Experts" and can be found in various places online, like inside your emails spam folder, or in the messages through your Google business listing. These Reputation Managers host multiple accounts all across the US, UK and AUS and charge very little, sometimes $3 per review, if you provide the content. A red flag you can look for is a vendor who has hundreds of reviews or a wedding venue that has thousands of reviews. Reputation Managers usually require a large order, so the Google listing or online storefront will have A TON of reviews.
Screenshot from live Google search 03/11/2023 | Research done by Minnesota Wedding Photographer - Emily's Photography.
Google My Business Reputation Management advertisement by an individual in Bangladesh, Khulna | Screenshot from online search 03/11/2023 | Research done by Minnesota Wedding Photographer - Emily's Photography.
Screenshot from RemoveBadReviews.com | Research done by Minnesota Wedding Photographer - Emily's Photography.
When I first ventured into wedding photography in 2017 I got a call from The Knots sales rep, who did everything she could to convince me to join the platform. I remember her going through my work, which at the time consisted of 3 weddings and 2 portrait sessions, and telling me my prices were too low - $30/hour for weddings. So, she insisted that when my storefront goes live, I need to change my prices to match average in my area, which was $250/hour. The Knot needs to uphold their brand, and their brand focuses on Luxury weddings, their vendors have to start at a certain price point, even if they don't have the equipment or experience to justify it. The Knot and WeddingPro don't actually care about the quality of their vendors, they just want to make money. I'm not saying all the platforms vendors are over-priced, but its a possibility to be cautious of.
What Newly Engaged Couples Should Know When Searching for Wedding Vendors.
Being “verified” or having a badge from The Knot, WeddingPro or WeddingWire doesn’t signify anything. Verified is a term they use to describe a participation award. It basically just shows that the vendor is paying them a $350 per month.
Reviews, when real, are packed with bias. The past client either had a remarkable experience and isn't mentioning the negatives, or the client had a terrible experience and isn't mentioning the positives of working with the vendor. People rarely leave a 3 star “okay” experience. So, reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.
As a newly engaged couple, your safest bet to finding a trusted vendor is to ask friends and family for referrals. Then do research, compare reviews across multiple platforms, meet up, Zoom, view their work, ask about their gear, make sure they’re communication is professional and timely. Do not hire anyone unless you have talked with them and have a good feeling about hiring them. Trust your gut.
New Wedding Vendor?
Then start your business journey on Google - its free. Don't waste your non-existing marketing budget on The Knot, WeddingWire, WeddingPro or other similar scams. These websites only work for business who have been on the site for 7+ years and have the advertising money to pay for premium accounts. Do not get locked into a "month-to-month" contract because it's a lie and they will find a way to lock you in for longer, usually an auto renewal that you can't cancel, or something similarly desperate.
Instead, utilize social media, create Instagram reels, post to Facebook twice weekly, create monthly blogs for your websites, etc. Your main focus should be building your portfolio, even if that means taking unpaid work, and then showing it off everywhere you're able to.
Also, make sure to get your well deserved reviews. Ask you'r past clients, and then ask again. Still no response but you're sure you did an amazing job? Well, keep asking. Reviews are extremely important for SEO, thats the main reason companies pay thousands to get fake ones. At the moment, Google bots depend on reviews to show them which listings are legit and worthy of being at the top of the search results. Instead of The Knot, focus on creating an amazing Google listing.
Reviews from wedding vendors warning others of The Knot and WeddingWires scams | Screenshot and research by Minnesota Wedding Photographer - Emily's Photography
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I'm Emily, and I document people (and their dogs) at weddings! I live alongside my five amazing, crazy and energetic pups, Nessie, Peach, Sammi, Vinny, and Bobbi. They chew everything they see, take up the whole bed, but most importantly - they give the best hugs.
I became a professional photographer in 2019 and since then have had the opportunity to share incredible moments with numerous couples that will be cherished forever. My goal is to tell the story not only of your wedding day, but of your love. I believe to the core that who we are matters. The imagery we create together is dependent on our connection with each other + being the right fit for each other. Let’s get to know one another, I’ll start.