As someone immersed in the business-to-business side of the wedding industry day in and day out, it's my job to know who is doing what, which new innovations have entered the market and who is making a difference. The wedding industry is evolving, not dissolving, and while many people are doing great work, today I want to talk about WedLuxe. More specifically, I want to talk about how this magazine is changing the bridal show industry.
In less than seven years, WedLuxe has earned its stripes as the best luxury wedding magazine not just in its home country of Canada, but in the world. Last year, founders Angela Desveaux (above left), Bruce Patterson and the WedLuxe team decided to re-imagine how a bridal show can look and feel. In January they produced the WedLuxe Wedding Show in Toronto and once again raised the bar. At the Engage!12 conference in June, Angela spoke on the behind-the-scenes and business side of producing the show. Even with everything that has entered the scene in the six months that have followed, I can safely say that the WedLuxe Wedding Show was hands down the best thing to happen to the global bridal industry in 2012.
Bridal expos are big business and, contrary to popular belief, they are still relevant to today's wedding marketing. 1 in 6 couples who married last year found at least one of their wedding professionals through a bridal show. This includes the higher-end of the spectrum as well: 1 in 8 couples in the luxury segment (wedding budgets of $96,000 or greater) found at least one of their wedding professionals at a bridal show.
The less than stellar reputation that bridal shows have earned over the years, however, comes honestly. When many people think of a bridal fair, they think of aisles and aisles of drab 10x10 spaces with ill-fitting pipe and drape. Instead of leaving brides and grooms excited about their upcoming nuptials, bridal shows tend to leave them tired, stressed out and overwhelmed.
Angela decided to change that and the solution she came up with fits right in line with the values of the millennial generation. Millennials value shared experiences more so than the preceding generations, and the WedLuxe team created a bridal show that involved all five senses and that couples could enjoy together.
Today's couples know that they can find everything online. If they take the time to show up to a bridal expo, they are doing so because they want something more than the Internet can provide. In addition, the brain processes social media like an in-person connection. For a physical event to be successful these days, it must exceed the convenience, ease and yes, even the chemical release of Dopamine and Oxytocin that planning online provides. It has to be fun, it has to be memorable, it has to be useful.
Included in the price of admission to the WedLuxe show was a Kate Spade inspired tea room, a beauty boutique offering up mini makeovers and mini manicures, a Mad Men inspired groom's lounge, and more.
In addition, rather than give out swag bags full of overlooked items, the show featured a complimentary shopping bar, where brides could choose from various full-size goodies from sponsors like Moroccanoil, OPI, Vera Wang, Jergens, Jurlique and so on.
In addition to the overall experience of the show, each mini experience made the 2000+ attendees feel pampered, feel important and reminded them that they mattered. These things are the lifeblood of a strong brand. Everything Angela and her team pulled together was stunning, but the secret sauce was how their show made the couples feel.
Here's a two-and-a-half minute film that Bruce Patterson put together of the event. Be sure to watch it for a glimpse of the entryway into the event -- made up of 1350 coral roses strung from 1350 silk ribbons.
Angela, Bruce and the WedLuxe team certainly weren't the first to produce a wedding show. They also weren't the first to try to reinvent it. They did, however, get it right. While this was obviously targeted at the luxury end of the wedding market, there's no reason that bridal shows focused on the economical and standard markets have to be poorly designed and uninspired. You don't have to be the first to do something in your industry segment or field of expertise, you just need to be willing to do the hard work of re-imagining and raising the bar.
PS: If you're in Toronto, the 2013 WedLuxe Wedding Show is coming up on January 6th. You can also follow WedLuxe on Twitter.
Photos by Verve Photo Co via WedLuxe