A sponsored wedding is when a couple has items, such as catering or the wedding cake, donated at no charge or a reduced charge in exchange for advertising. This option can make a couple's dream wedding possible, but comes with a downside as well.
Make a Sponsor Request
If you thought those couples who are paying for their own weddings are stressed out and overworked, imagine having to contact sponsors and solicit freebies for your own wedding. Since most of the advertising isn't blatant, the couple has to do their best to convince the vendor that his advertisement will be seen. There's a fair amount of negotiating when setting up a sponsored wedding and it can be comparable to arranging a business merger more than a wedding. When thinking of securing sponsors, consider the following:
- Everything you will need for your wedding
- Anything unique that will make your wedding stand out
- Large guest list (The bigger the wedding, the more likely it is to be sponsored.)
- Set up a wedding website to show potential sponsors that you can attract business
Write Letters to Potential Sponsors
Writing a letter is often the first approach to contacting a sponsor. When making a written request, you will need to convince a sponsor that wedding guests will be interested in their product, and that by being a sponsor, they will get more business. Some elements to include in your letter request are:
- Who you are
- Why you are looking for a wedding sponsor
- What you exactly need
- The date and location of your wedding
- How this will appeal to them
Businesses to Contact
Depending on what you are looking for, there are several types of wedding vendors to contact for sponsorships. It's important to be creative when choosing vendors, but it's equally important not to stray too far from home. Sponsors will want to target local guests who will be more inclined to visit local establishments. Some businesses to consider for sponsorships are:
- Party supply stores
- Formal wear shops
- Wedding dress designers
- Travel agencies
Once you've sent your initial letter, follow up with a phone call in a week. Remind the business contact who you are and what kind of advertising you're willing to offer. Set an appointment to discuss the sponsorship in person and figure out any details or answer potential questions.
What to Expect From a Sponsor
While your ultimate goal is to procure services and items at no cost, you may end up compromising by offering advertising in exchange for a discounted rate. Additionally, the sponsor may put limitations on how much they will sponsor; for example:
- You may get all the bridal bouquets and arrangements for only the cost of the flowers, but the actual flower choice will be up to the florist.
- If the caterer is willing to be a sponsor, you may get free wedding appetizers but still need to pay for the individual meals.
- The wedding photographer might offer you free engagement photographs and some prints, but still charge you for the wedding day photographs.
Make sure you know the going rates for various services to determine if a compromised arrangement will work for your wedding.
Once sponsors are brought on board, there are several options for advertising that you can use without coming across as overly tacky and obvious.
The Invitation and Other Stationary
One way is to advertise is to enclose a list of sponsors in with the wedding invitation. You could also list sponsors on the back of the invitation, along with their logos. Save-the-dates and thank yous are also good places to include sponsor lists.
Wedding Sponsor List in Program
Sponsors can also be listed on the back of the wedding ceremony programs. You can include a thank you to the sponsors and then list each by name.
Some sponsors have even had their logos placed on novelty items such as:
- Cocktail napkins
- Favors, from candle holders with logos to favor tags
- Place setting cards
Include a link to the vendor on your wedding website. Make sure you get their permissison to include their logo and then link the logo directly to their own website or social media page. Include your website link in save-the-dates, invitations, programs, and thank you cards. Similarly, you could also include links to the sponsoring company when posting on personal social media accounts.
There are still other forms of subtle sponsorship to consider. For instance a small sign in front of the wedding cake with the words "Wedding Cake Courtesy of ABC Bakery" can be placed on the cake table until it's time to do the honors. The same can be done by the caterer at a buffet.
Famous Sponsored Weddings
There are many celebrities who secure sponsors for their weddings. What better advertising than to be the designer of a famous starlet's dress or to have baked the wedding cake of a trendy rock star? Famous people have been doing it for years, why not those who aren't so famous? Now you too can get a high-end wedding package, you just have to be willing to include a list of sponsors in with your wedding invitations. Some well-know examples of these types of weddings are:
- In 2018, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas reportedly had sponsors for their famous wedding. From the bachelor party to jewelry, the couple had plenty of social media hashtags that linked back to famous companies like Tiffany's.
- Star Jones had her dream wedding to Al Reynolds paid for by sponsors. She secured sponsors for everything from the invitations to the groom's tuxedo. There was even an official airline for the wedding weekend listed. Sponsors were interested in this wedding due to Star's celebrity status and public mention.
- The Bachelorette star Trista Rehn married Ryan Sutter in 2003 on national television. The couple was paid by ABC to broadcast their wedding that attracted over 26 million viewers.
- In 2006, Carrie Fisher and Dave Kerpen used their marketing and sales skills and had a $100,000 dream wedding paid for by sponsors. The wedding was held at a baseball stadium in Brooklyn, New York (donated for free) and included flowers paid for by 1-800-Flowers, as well as other items and goods from 25 sponsors.
- Kelly Gray and her groom Karl Gau, both from Virginia, made national headlines in 2009 when the bride-to-be set up an eBay auction for a bridesmaid spot in her wedding. She was looking for a way to make cash to pay for her wedding. In response to the auction, Dr Pepper won the auction and decided to be a sponsor and donated $10,000, as well as beverages for the reception.
There will always be those who feel sponsored weddings are lacking in taste or class. Product placement and advertisement, no matter how subtle, will dominate the guests' conversation and may even sully a happy occasion. Many guests may feel they shouldn't give such generous gifts since the couple's wedding and honeymoon have been paid for by sponsors.
Other Types of Sponsors
Not all sponsored weddings are ones where the couple ponies up advertising for companies in exchange for freebies or a discount. In some social circles and cultures, referring to a wedding sponsor is actually referring to friends or relatives close to the couple who have taken an active role in helping with the wedding. For example, Mexican wedding traditions have both role model sponsors and gift giving sponsors.
Sponsors Make Financial Sense
If your wedding is turning out to be more than you bargained for financially, you might consider finding sponsors for your wedding. Keep in mind, however, that there are many who feel it takes something away from the happy occasion.