Weddings 2.0: The New Business of the Wedding Business
Branding? Sourcing? Trendspotting? It’s not just business — it’s the business of wedding design today.
By Natasha Garber
While weddings remain tied to tradition, wedding professionals are taking cues from the business world — and taking a whole new approach to their work.
When corporate business slows, some planners dip a toe into wedding waters. Leslie Short, on the other hand, has taken the plunge. The owner of New York-based K.I.M. Media created K.I.M. Weddings not as a social sideline to her corporate event operations, but as an extension of her branding-message division.
“My approach to branding a couple is the same as creating a brand for a company or working with a company to expand their brand through a product launch,” she explains. “I ask the couple, ‘What is the message you want your guests to take home with them? What items do you want them to speak about when they tell the story of your wedding?’” Once Short establishes the bride’s and groom’s priorities, she “merges them into a branded concept/theme that speaks to both of them.” The process is the same as if she were “dealing with the American arm” of a French company, she says. “It’s my responsibility to merge the two cultures together so it is relatable to both [groups].”
Along with corporate strategies, Short is also able to tap into unique vendors — experts who, for instance, “understand branding concepts and colors and cues for lighting and sound,” or fashion industry insiders who “give me great options for makeup artists and hair who can work quickly,” she says. And because these experts are used to “keeping it moving” — the phrase behind Short’s business name acronym — “it relieves a lot of stress on brides and bridal parties.”
Somewhere between DIY and turnkey wedding planning lies the wedding concierge — a concept that former “Grace Ormonde Wedding Style” associate publisher Kerri Bruneau has turned into a hot spot for couples in planning mode.
In January, Bruneau and partner Eleni Granas launched Boston Bridal Lounge. The Boston-based “wedding showcase and library” invites couples to browse vendors, pore over look-books and solicit expert advice from the company’s principals — all while sipping champagne or fancy coffee drinks. Couples pay a membership fee to join for benefits that include visits to BBL’s ultra-chic lounge, access to resources, exclusive discounts at local wedding businesses, and free admission to all BBL events. Also included in the fee: “Unlimited assistance in planning your dream wedding.”
Sort of. As Bruneau notes, “We are not wedding coordinators in the traditional sense.” Instead, “We give each couple personal attention and make recommendations on those wedding professionals that we feel are best suited to meet their needs. We offer a wealth of knowledge and resources for those couples that are planning on their own. In addition, we offer concierge services and will schedule all of their appointments for them.” Contract negotiation, production scheduling, venue walk-throughs — these are up to the couple to handle.
Bruneau notes that she and Granas make it a point to identify couples who may not be suited to the DIY demands of a concierge-assisted wedding plan, and “recommend that they hire one of our trusted wedding planners to oversee every detail of their event.”
While they do count wedding design and coordination among their talents, the Wedding Guys — business partners Matthew Trettel and Bruce Vassar — are more than wedding producers. In addition to orchestrating “Signature Weddings” for an exclusive clientele, the Minneapolis-based duo is devoted to raising the bar for weddings everywhere by spotting trends and spouting smart advice to media and consumers simultaneously.
As Trettel explains, he and Vassar promote “relevant ideas to engaged couples” on a number of fronts. These include “Unveiled,” a touring wedding-planning show for consumers, and the Wedding TrendSpot Press Fashion Show at New York’s annual Couture Bridal Fashion Week, which the pair designed as a platform to help bridal designers reach fashion buyers and international press.
Just where do they get their bright ideas? “By the time the trends make it into mainstream bridal publications, they are usually old hat to event professionals,” Trettel says. “So we look to interior design trends to glean ideas for wedding design and decor. We look for innovative ways to use new technology to foster connection. Really, the entire world is our playground — we can’t go anywhere without seeing something that could be reinvented or reinterpreted for use in a wedding.”
BOSTON BRIDAL LOUNGE www.bostonbridallounge.com
K.I.M. MEDIA www.kim-media.com
THE WEDDINGS GUYS www.theweddingguys.com
Trendspotters the Wedding Guys nail the hot wedding trends for 2011-2012
MIXOLOGISTS: More than mere bartenders, these creators of custom cocktail recipes present unique twists on classic drinks (think: a deconstructed daiquiri with homemade rum foam) while “crafting these exciting libations right before guests’ eyes.”
RESTAURANT BUYOUTS: “More foodie couples are looking to pamper their guests with a tremendous dining experience at their favorite restaurant.” Depending on the establishment and the size of the guest list, “ordering” from a menu of options is a possibility.
COLOR CONCENTRATION: “What we see for 2011-2012 is a rich palette with a smoky cast.” Look for jewel colors such as emerald, ruby, coral and peacock blue. On the other end of the spectrum, watch for “what we call ‘Lipstick,’ with bold glossy reds and dark pinks paired with flesh tones.”