In the 7th episode of the DWP Biz Edge Series, we had the honor of hosting some of the biggest names in the world of destination and luxury weddings from the Americas who shared exceptional insights on the dynamics of the American wedding market. We all are embracing this new normal and it was enlightening to hear from these renowned wedding experts on how the future of this $300-billion industry is going to take its new shape in the new reality. Let’s deep dive into this fascinating world with our regional wedding aficionados.
Dynamics of the North American Wedding Market
How The Expectations Of Luxury Clients Will Change In The Upcoming Wedding Season
Planner: @sacks_productions / Picture Courtesy: @elizabethmessina
To start the session, we had one of the most respected names in the world of weddings and leading celebrity planner in the world, Sharon Sacks, President & Founder of the Los Angeles-based event planning company – Sacks Productions who shared valuable insights on how the expectations of luxury clients have changed in the current times.
Couples have become more creative now. We have been really fortunate to have this time to reflect. Before the pandemic, the brides would share their Pinterest board looking for exactly the same design and criteria, and now, they would sit down with their planner and discuss what is necessary and what is not. They will come up with stunning intimate luxury wedding ideas that have a significant meaning to their lives. The romance is bigger and better. It’s all about friends, family, and fun. Before it was all about the wow factor, now it is about the elegance and the love affair. It’s about creating different experiences that will bring smiles. People are longing to celebrate, they don’t want to give up on their special day. We must create new and unique ways to help our clients to make their vision come true. It doesn’t have to be astronomical in dollars, it has to be astronomical in warmth, love, and feelings. It’s all about how well you do the interaction.
She sums up beautifully by sharing this message full of warmth and love – “Don’t forget what’s truly important in your life and that is – sharing, giving and kindness.”
Trends For Luxury Weddings In 2021
Picture Courtesy: @xquisiteevents
Echoing similar views was the lovely Nikki Khan, Founder of LA-based event design and planning company – Exquisite Events, internationally celebrated for their ability to bring a unique blend of elegance, style, and sophistication into any space and event. With her expertise in creating culturally-infused magical events, she shares the trends in luxury weddings that she foresees in 2021.
Trends are constantly evolving, what was old is new again. It’s going to be a year of intimate, luxury micro weddings that are hyper-personalized. The glam factor is not going anywhere. Weddings may have become smaller, but it has become grander. Couples will not reduce their budget on services like photography as with the pandemic, capturing moments have become more special.
Intimate/micro weddings – Weddings are back at their hearts. Living in the moment and remembering what the celebration is all about matters the most. With that, small weddings with creative and immersive details will emerge.
Personalization – A major chunk of the budget is going to go on creating bespoke. More pastel colors like lilacs, peaches, baby pink will take the center stage. Installations are going to be huge with a rise in architectural and geometrical shapes. Different textures and combination of them will be used for the table setting. The tabletop setting will be unique and personalized. Pampas grass will still be a major element of decor. We need to focus on creating immersive experiences for guests that touches all the senses.
The glam factor will be huge – Everyone is tired of living in their PJs, it’s going to be full-on glam. Brides are going to select classic, beautiful gowns. Hair accessories will be big with lots of sparkles and pearls. Chandelier earrings and statement necklaces are going to be back.
How To Deal With Pricing Issue And Negotiation Talks
Picture Courtesy: @joanngregoli
Pricing right in the current times is always on top of everyone’s minds and especially these times are making it hard to address it well.
Whether it is a planner, vendor or client, coming to similar terms when it comes to gauging the value, is a tad bit more complicated. When you have industry thought leader and destination wedding expert JoAnn Gregoli, Founder of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli in the discussion, you know the pearls of wisdom she will share on pricing are worth gold! JoAnn, with her expertise in destination weddings, has offices located in New York, New Jersey, Rome and Marrakesh, reduced this complication to make it easier for the wedding community.
If there’s something that distinguishes between mediocre from exceptional, it’s quality! With pandemic taking a toll on the wedding industry, our values as a wedding planner have become higher. We are no more just ‘a planner’ to them, we are their guide, their counselor, someone who will take care of their needs in this changing world. Hence, do not undermine your value and don’t cut on your pricing. Hold firm with what you’re charging but be creative in how you charge it.
Hourly fee – Break up your fee structures- planning fee, production fee.
More month-of planning-services – Become more creative in what you are offering. Offer them more option for micro wedding and create different unique packages. The secret is not to undercut, just pump it up and prove your value to your client.
Contract clauses – Add COVID clauses to your contracts as we are in uncharted territories with laws changing rapidly across the world. Time is money. The replanning clause should be clearly highlighted in case your client is demanding to reschedule or restructure the event. All clients should have weddings and travel insurance in place. It’s all about protecting your business. We are now more valuable than before and it is important that we look at things differently.
How Wedding Planners & Suppliers Stay Relevant During These Unprecedented Times
Rules are changing, trends are constantly evolving, this raises the question of how do we stay relevant during such times? With her expertise, Michele Fox Gott, Founder of Center of Attention Events from LA who’s well known in the industry for her passion and creativity, and for the amazing celebrity and corporate clients she has been organizing for over 30 years, shares her secret recipe on this. She says- “Just getting out there, letting people know that you are still working, is the most important thing you can do right now.”
Push marketing flow – Don’t stop your marketing efforts. Be it a small thing that you are doing right now, put it out there on your social media.
Reassure your clients – You are still in business and you’re going to be their resource for planning their special day. From explaining the insurance clauses to reorganizing the plan, we need to make our clients feel comfortable so that they can trust us.
Reconnect – Take this time to reflect and reconnect with your clients and vendors. Head on for a Zoom call with them to deepen your relationship with them. Join groups from different parts of the world so that when the time comes, you can benefit from that connection. It’s an amazing thing that we are getting this time to practice gratitude and focus on things that matter the most.
Reintroduce services – This is the time to try new strategies. For example, get your hands on decor for holidays or create content on Instagram that people will share.
Try new marketing strategies – Go for new social media platforms like Tiktok to promote your services and target new market segments.
Understanding Latin & South American Wedding Market
Insights From The Brazilian Market
Pictures Courtesy: @cohencerimonial
Roberto Cohen, Founder of Roberto Cohen Cerimonial, Brazil, with his 32-year legacy has organized more than 3,500 luxury events worldwide. With an expert like him who is respected globally for his thought leadership and amazing events, we got a slice of the Latin American market.
Open spaces are on the top of the line – Couples don’t buy dress or flowers or stationary, they buy pictures. That’s why destination weddings are always preferred by couples – for their breathtaking and unique views. Open spaces can accommodate larger groups of people and offer a considerable amount of safety than indoor spaces and offer great opportunities for taking those stunning pictures.
60% occupancy of the space – Restaurants and hotels are operating at 60% of its capacity. The attendance rate has grown higher with intimate weddings. Before the guest attendance was about 80% in Brazil, now with intimate weddings, everyone is attending. Now the party is not going to be about the guests, it will be for the ‘elected people.’ Music is allowed but no dancefloor.
Golden rules are mandatory – The safety measures and protocols around social distancing, masks, sanitizers are been strictly adhered to in Brazil. Rather than calling micro or minimonies, Roberto likes to call smaller events as ‘Event Boutiques.’ The reason being – better quality of service now than before. Be it the decor, menu or other services, every minute details are taken care of. Brides are having multiple grows and multiple parties. Instead of 2-3 hours of party, now they are having 5-6 hours of the party.
How Traditional Weddings Are Going To Change
Picture Courtesy: @bethhelmstetter / Venue: @hotelbelair
Beth Helmstetter, the owner and principal event designer at Beth Helmstetter Events is based in Los Angeles specializing in destination weddings and intimate affairs in locations all over the world from Bali to Paris to Central America and throughout the United States.
Smaller guest counts – Weddings are becoming smaller, usually of about 30-50 people due to current regulations. A waiting list should be in place in case the restriction eases.
Closer to home – Couples are still excited to go far, but for guests, closer to home is convenient.
Budgets will be the same – Even though weddings have become smaller in terms of guest counts, the budgets are still the same as they have become more luxe and intimate. Planners have become very creative and elaborate with entertainment and dinner services since some of the options like the dance floor are not considered right now.
Way Forward In Wedding Industry To Get More Bookings
Picture Courtesy: @penziweddings
Guadalupe Alvarez is the founder and creative talent behind Penzi Weddings, a Mexico-based event management company known for her outstanding, lavish and bespoke services in Mexico and worldwide.
Social Media – It is important to communicate with your clients. Let them know what you are up to and share your work and thoughts to motivate your clients.
Collaboration is the key – Share your work with blogs and magazines not only in your country but internationally. Powerful and strong partnerships with hotels, venues, and tourist boards will ensure a smooth flow of business once everything is normal again. She beautifully mentioned a sentiment of collaboration over the competition. We all are #inittogether and have to work together to bring this industry back on its feet.
Your website should be up-to-date – Make sure your website is updated with the latest information and client’s testimonies. This will bring the clients back and ensure confidence in them to book you again.
Simone Tostes, CEO of Aonde Casar from Brazil who is known for crafting exclusive experiences around the world, was in Turkey on a FAM trip during the session. Even miles apart, she sent us a beautiful video for the DWP familia with a message saying – “The wedding industry is getting back to normal and we all are so happy and excited to see what the future unfolds. Stay positive and share love and positivity wherever you go.”
This exciting and inspirational episode ended with heartwarming messages from all the panelists with a common sentiment of sharing love, warmth and celebration. Let’s hope the world recovers soon and we travel all over again and meet each other at the 7th annual DWP Congress from 24-26th March 2021 at the Mitsis Alila Resort & Spa in Rhodes, Greece. Until then, stay healthy and stay safe. Love from DWP!
Feature Image Credit:@sacks_productions