By Paul Pannone
An ongoing eWedNewz investigation shows the wedding business is in worse shape than anyone is willing to admit. Information and interviews across all channels of the business, including the part reported to be the most important; the dress business, shows severe damage caused by the collapse of the economy in 2008 and a slow recovery through 2011 and most of 2012.
Like brides, dresses come in all colors, not just white. Tuxedos have been replaced by black suits, navy and tan colors and everything you can imagine.
eWedNewz watches trends that includes the longer wait of men and women deciding to get married. The average age for first-time marriages continues to rise.
“The median age for a man’s first marriage was 28.2 years in 2010, up from 26.1 in 1990. The median age for a woman’s first marriage was 26.1 years in 2010, up from 23.9 in 1990,” according to www.infoplease.com sourcing U.S. Bureau of the Census information.
According to Census information the combined average age of men and women since 1960 has increased nearly 21% and has continues to rise world-wide. World trends show an even greater increase to resisting marriage. In the UK the average age for men and women hit 30 years this year citing Pew research while exploring probable causes.
Shedding tradition and traditional values continues to affect the number of marriages but also the formality of those weddings that do take place. Stylish, non-traditional weddings express the thoughts of couples who no longer want to be told what to wear, how to feel or plan their day.
Trends and shifts from normal wedding business finds those who plan to stay in the business are forced to change their operations to adapt to the shrinking numbers. Khalilah Olokunola of A Boxed Event and member of the Wedding Water Cooler shared her thoughts in the controversial forum:
“Many vendors I know have tripled up-not fine tuning their business to meet the demands of the changed times but instead (add) a whole new business . IT seems acceptable in some circles to be the baker, designer, director,planner and videographer- and no I’m not making that up there is a business that offers that.
Gone seems the days where you have to have skill and experience before you could add a title to your name. If you truly want to be successful you have to work hard, hustle hard and accept constructive criticism from more seasoned veterans. Geez I do all the time , I’m a coolie.
With brides and other “socialistas” decreasing their average budgets we all find ourselves redeveloping our business plans and offerings but still maintaining our integrity by offering the better bang for your buck,” says Khalilah.
Khalilah and others say the wedding business is flooded with services and products, challenging the pricing ability for vendors who seem to increase faster in numbers than the market shrinks. Plainly put there is no more need or room for another DJ, gown manufacturer, limousine company or any of the products to create traditional weddings. There are even too many catering facilities who’ve been forced to service a broader spectrum of events to keep rooms, kitchens and workers busy.
While investigating the story about the wedding dress business we’ve uncovered a growing number of outside sources infiltrating the business forcing manufacturers to take action. Recent advancements in the fight against pirates who’ve crippled the wedding dress business received no credit from skeptics who say the damage is too deep, too wide-spread and can never return to normal levels.
Across all channels eWedNewz watches and reports the changes taking place at places like David’s Bridal down to the smallest bridal stores who say they’re ready to throw in the towel. Decisions to sell majority equity stakes to investors like the one involving Jim’s Formal Wear become more and more common-place. Store closures servicing the wedding business are expected to increase, as manufacturers and suppliers tell eWedNewz they can no longer manage growing debt because accounts can’t meet their obligations.
Newsstand sale of bridal magazines continues to plummet giving some ammunition to pundits who say digital is killing print. But a closer look by eWedNewz shows grandfather wedding websites like TheKnot.com are also taking a pounding. eWedNewz exposé stories about scandal, sexual debauchery and reported mismanagement of resources culminated in the death of morph digital/print companies like Get Married. So-far the rebirth of the company failed to come close in recapturing the glory the original launch created before the crash in 2008, now that the wedding business is older and wiser about the fairy-dust that surrounds them.
Planners of all sizes, including celebrity, say they’re looking to exit the business or expand into a broader range of services, no longer able to cut costs or charge enough fees to make it worth their while. Even “Wedding Market Gurus”, A.K.A, snake oil salespeople, are finding it difficult, if not impossible to charge speaking fees they did just a few short years ago. Most avoid our questions and keep pounding their drum of bullshit, acting as though everything is fine, while others see the changes and become alarmist, claiming to have the answer in some seminar or class.
Even hopefuls who thought the addition of Same-sex marriages to the wedding market, backed by the leader of the free world, say the events has so-far been just a small blip on the screen.
Olokunola again gave her view on how some of the troubles could be fixed:
“When the people who govern wedding magazine, trade shows and associations get real maybe– just maybe– it’ll get better. It’ll make it harder for scammers to scam and players to play and when we stick together as a whole. I believe a shift will take place towards an up direction and its there that the industry can begin again,” she said in the WWC forum.
Christine Boulton of Think Like A Bride told the Cooler how some companies are successful in the very tough business climate.
“There has been some serious restructuring in our business over the last four years. Business owners have changed their thinking; they are going after new markets and they have stepped away from an attitude of arrogance. In short, they stopped thinking of themselves as “artist” and begun to see themselves as businesses.”
Endless discussions clearly show the end of the wedding business as it once was. Is it time to stop discussing and look at what the information clearly tells us?
In an ongoing poll 32% of respondents so-far say the wedding business is rebounding but slowly.
What do you say?
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