Saturday, February 16, 2008

Look who made the Edge Magazine!

Saying 'I do' weddings

is good for business

February is the month for love and, like many of you, I know couples who are embarking on the exciting, yet often daunting journey of planning a wedding. They have so much to think about, so much to do and so much to spend just to say, “I do!"

After listening to them, I’m convinced that should a wedding ever be in my future, it will be a very simple affair – barefoot on a beach (I’ll save a fortune on wedding shoes!).

What is nice about today’s weddings is that you can have it your way. Whether you opt for a traditional church wedding, a destination wedding to a beach or Vegas, there is no right or wrong way to get married these days. This bodes well for the bride and groom to be, and for entrepreneurs looking for new markets for their businesses.

When we think of weddings and businesses that serve this industry, we often think about the obvious – bridal shops, florists, caterers, photographers and limo drivers. If you fall into one of these categories, you are in a great position to take advantage of a growing industry. According to The Wedding Report, a Web site that tracks the industry, the number of weddings per year is expected to grow to nearly 2.27 million by the year 2010, with the average couple spending $31,400 for their big day.

Destination weddings are also on the increase, and couples are coming to Maine in big numbers to get married. I spoke recently with Amber Small, a Maine-based wedding planner who owns The Sweetest Thing Weddings. Small said that of the 10 weddings she has booked this year, nine of them are couples from out of state.

Think about what this means for Maine’s economy and the opportunities for small businesses. These weddings not only bring couples to Maine, but also their friends and family who will stay in area hotels, eat at restaurants and purchase Maine-made gifts and souvenirs to take home. For many guests, attending the wedding may be their first trip to Maine, but once they realize what a wonderful a place this is, they will likely visit again.

Small also noted that a hot trend in weddings is to provide destination bags for out of town guests that include information about the area, maps, restaurant guides and Maine-made gifts. If you make a product in Maine, this presents an opportunity for you to get that product into the hands of new customers.

Most destination weddings to Maine involve an entire weekend of events to keep the out of town guests occupied. If you have a service or product that would appeal to the wedding party or friends and relatives of the happy couple, you should be marketing to them. Examples might include spa treatments and massages, or special discounts at a retail store. One bride I know arranged for a psychic to offer readings for her bridal party (a risky proposition as I see it). Let's not forget the guys; how about offering golf packages for the groom and groomsmen or deals on other activities guys might want to partake in over the wedding weekend – wholesome ones, of course!

Whatever your specialty, the wedding industry presents a great opportunity to grow your business. There are many ways to market your business to this industry – too many to mention in this column. Start by talking with friends who are planning weddings to find out where they are going for information, and introduce yourself to businesses that already serve the industry, such as wedding planners, florists, bridal shops, among others.

Word of mouth referrals are huge in this industry. So get out there and let people know you would love to do to business with couples in love.

Thanks Deb for the plug! I know I love being in the Business of Love!

I think Maine is the best destination for your wedding and I am so thankful for my amazing couples who are coming to visit Maine or "coming home" to Maine for their Sweetest Memory...their wedding day.