Friday, January 25, 2008

Off to Jamaica!

Will be a bit quiet here on the Blog for the next week or so as I am off to Jamaica to conduct ongoing training for the wedding team from all [19] Sandals + Beaches Resorts.

Preston Bailey will be joining me to unveil his 2 latest collections for Sandals and he and his design team will be training the teams on-island to execute them.

Stay tuned for photos from the week's activities and of the great new destination wedding collections that Preston has dreamed up that are affordable for any bride!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fabulous Find: Raj Tents

I recently received a wonderful press kit from Maurice at Raj Tents in CA. I have long admired their unique and gorgeous tents. Today, they sent word that they just launched a brand new website...prepare to get lost in all of the amazing tents, pergolas, custom linings, draping, furniture, lighting and more!! They have been featured in countless press outlets and now ship their work everywhere. Kudos to them - they found a need in the market and filled it - no more boring white tents and poles!!

Enjoy - !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2008: The "Expectation Economy"

As you have probably figured out by now - I am totally "Trend Obsessed" - it is so important to understand what is happening in the global marketplace in terms of consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas for our clients [and loyal blog readers *wink!].

One of my frequent reads is the uber-cool, totally ahead of the global consumer and their behaviors site Their February Trend Report is one that affects us all in a huge way and its surely one of the biggest challenges in today's marketplace - read on for some highlights:

"Capturing the essence of 2008's demanding consumer arena, it is—surprise, surprise—all about those pesky, demanding consumers:

"The EXPECTATION ECONOMY is an economy inhabited by experienced, well-informed consumers from Canada to South Korea who have a long list of high expectations that they apply to each and every good, service and experience on offer.

Their expectations are based on years of self-training in hyperconsumption, and on the biblical flood of new-style, readily available information sources, curators and BS filters. Which all help them track down and expect not just basic standards of quality, but the 'best of the best'."

The EXPECTATION ECONOMY has been building slowly in the background. The biggest difference from five to ten years ago? Word of mouth now travels the world in a flash, making product launches instantly global, turning every new brand—big or small—into a potential 'player', and most importantly, rewarding exceptional performance with immediate interest and approval from consumers.

In fact, never before has intelligence on the best, the cheapest, the first, the most original and the most relevant been so openly available to consumers. And never before have consumers enjoyed doing research and 'competitive analysis' as much as they do now, and doing it far more diligently than most corporations do.

Let's face it: in the past a brand could get away with not performing at its peak, since consumers didn't enjoy full transparency of the best, the cheapest, the first, the most original, the most relevant. That's really over.

And things are bound to get even more radical: the EXPECTATION ECONOMY is a given for younger generations, who are unburdened by an era of mass production, mass advertising and above all, mass ignorance.

So: not knowing who's doing exceptional things and setting your customers' expectations is not an option."

I will share more on this phenomenon in future posts as this one is already quite long - but I encourage you to think about how the "EXPECTATION ECONOMY" is affecting how you do business and what changes you can make right now to adapt!

Monday, January 21, 2008

TREND: The Destination Bachelor Weekend

From yesterday's special wedding issue in The Boston Globe - a look at the *hot* trend of the "Destination Bachelor [& Bachelorette] Weekend" -- yet another untapped opportunity for innovative hotels/resorts/destinations, travel and wedding professionals to experience the many benefits related to the wedding market! Click here to read the entire article - I pulled out a few highlights:
Stags Just Want to Have Fun

One boozy night at a strip club is increasingly being replaced by long-weekend bachelor parties where men play, eat, bond, and maybe even sip wine.
>>TWO MONTHS BEFORE his November nuptials, Boston attorney Dan Urman and nine of his closest buddies converged on a rented house at Lake Tahoe in California and spent 72 hours in a male-bonding ritual that would have made even Robert Bly envious. The men - who flew and drove in from 10 cities across the country - careened down muddy ski trails on mountain bikes, skimmed the lake in inner tubes lassoed to a powerboat, tried their luck at blackjack in nearby Reno, dined at fancy restaurants, and grilled pounds of steak and ribs.
>>Increasingly, so-called destination bachelor parties that typically span a long weekend and involve scheduled activities such as golfing, skiing, deep-sea fishing, paintball, and wine tasting are replacing the boozy last hurrahs of bachelor-hood.
>>Along with Tahoe, Las Vegas and Miami - both pulsating with nightlife - rank among the top US destinations for stag parties.
>>The trend toward uber-bachelor parties has evolved into a serious game of one-upmanship among super-competitive groomsmen in certain social circles, Bauer says. In 2005, Berkowitz's brother, who lives in Chicago, held his bachelor party in pre-Katrina New Orleans; later this year, Berkowitz will travel to other all-male gatherings in Miami and Puerto Rico.
>>But, boys, let me tell you, these are not cheap dates. The cost varies widely, depending on the quality of accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment, but men typically drop hundreds or even thousands of dollars on such weekends.
>>Several things have sparked the lengthier, pricier destination bachelor party phenomena: older first-time grooms (and brides) and their friends with more disposable income; an increasing percentage of couples who cohabitate before marriage, making an in-town affair too humdrum (not to mention awkward when a bachelor wakes up, hung over, beside his bride-to-be or doesn't come home at all); weddings that often involve family and friends who are geographically scattered and need to travel, regardless, making a sexy destination more desirable; a harried workforce that sees a relative's or friend's bachelor party as a chance for a "minivacation."
[Illustration from The Boston Globe]

Saturday, January 19, 2008

J. Crew Weddings: "High Touch"

I received this email today from J. Crew announcing their brand new "Crewcuts" collection for flower girls and ring bearers. Adorable! A number of years ago when J. Crew launched their revolutionary line of reasonably priced but oh-so-chic bridal gowns it made headlines everywhere. They dared to challenge what had been a very formal business model of selling wedding gowns that had been operating the same way for decades and turned it upside down. They offered the gowns only online, with no opportunity to try them on [gasp!], the styles were simple and chic with good quality, the prices were unheard of starting from just $225 and usually not exceeding $1,000 and most importantly, the customer service was impeccable. The results for J. Crew have been a smashing success story and eventually expanded into outfitting the entire wedding party.

I love their call-to-action above "BRIDE TO BE? email - she's our wedding specialist, she'll wardrobe your entire wedding party and take care of everything [except walk you down the aisle)."

Now, J. Crew is a huge company - but they 'get' that weddings are the ultimate 'High Touch' event and treat brides with the respect that they deserve by going so far as to offer a name and a promise from the very start - no anonymous email address or receptionist or call center. I do not know Ashley, the bridal specialist at J. Crew, but I imagine she is quite popular and very good at what she does.

I must tell you that many in our industry across all categories could stand to learn a thing or two from this - are you sure that everyone in your organization embraces weddings and welcomes them from the very first point of contact? Are they so committed to providing extraordinary service that you would put their name and email address as the call to action in your advertising? J. Crew has taken market share from the traditional 'brick and mortar' bridal salons and continues to do so -- weddings are a people business and we all get one chance to make a first impression - it has to be welcoming, sincere and authentic at every opportunity!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Knot "Real Weddings" Awards

The Knot Announces First Annual Real Wedding Awards

NEW YORK, Jan 15, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) --The Knot, Inc. (NASDAQ: KNOT, the #1 wedding website, requests you to save the date for the launch of The Knot Real Wedding Awards - the first of its kind showcase the best real weddings across America.

Kicking off this Valentine's Day, the first annual The Knot Real Wedding Awards is a one-of-a-kind program that invites recently married couples and top wedding professionals to see photos, videos, and websites from the most incredible weddings of 2007.

Entries will be uploaded to viewing galleries where The Knot editors, real brides, a panel of experts, and the world at large will be able to vote on their favorites in the following categories:

-- Overall Best Wedding of 2007
-- Best Wedding Photos
-- Best Wedding Videos
-- Best Wedding Ideas
-- Best Wedding Web Pages
-- Best Wedding Blooper/Disasters

The winning events will be featured in a story in the best-selling The Knot Wedding Magazine, and a television special on The Knot TV. Visit to stay tuned for more details regarding the program, including other fabulous prizes announced on February 14, 2008.
[Photo by Allison Miller Photo of wedding at client Casa Monica Hotel]

Friday, January 11, 2008

All About the Blog

Piggybacking on yesterday's post - I had come across this cartoon not too long ago and it made me laugh - for all my fellow Bloggers out there - I know you can relate!! Scary but sometimes a bit true [well, maybe alot true *wink!*]!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blogging for [Wedding] Business

Blogs have taken web 2.0 by storm and the wedding industry has been no exception. What we do is so VISUAL and emotional and compelling and lends perfectly to the very nature of blogging. Witness the literal explosion of wedding professionals blogs, led by the wedding photographers. That should come as no surprise - after all, they have the stunning imagery and by nature are creative and most often, very techo-savvy.
I am surprised however at how far behind most wedding planners and event designers/floral designers are on this trend...and of course resorts/hotels/caterers and travel agents - not even on the map yet!! There are a few notable exceptions but as a whole - not even in the game!
So I found it of interest to read the piece in today's 1to1 Media marketing e-newsletter entitled: "Do You Need a Chief Blogging Officer?" It outlines the blog strategy of major companies such as Marriott, Southwest Airlines, The Dallas Mavericks and GM.
We are working with almost all of our current clients to develop or strengthen their Blog is no longer luxury, in fact, I consider it a MUST in today's increasingly competitive and overcrowded market.
Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book, lists her top eight tips to a successful corporate blog on her website:

-Use humor.
-Write short. Less is more. [ok - I admit I need to work on this - if you know me at all you know I am not known for my brevity! *wink!*]
-Post at least once a week.
-Link to naysayers and competitors
-Appoint a blog editor [if you are too big or busy to do yourself!]
-Build redundancy into your approval process.
-Consider joining The Blog Council (an independent corporate blog association).
-Just do it...
That last point is the KEY! Just start. It is free, it is super easy [almost as easy as sending an email], and it is critical in developing an ongoing conversation with your clients.
Please share your blogs with me...I will add them to my personal RSS reader - which already is filled with over 125 blogs but always has room for more!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Brides: The Renaissance Generation

Read with great interest this morning in Ad Age about the next generation of consumers [your brides!] - the "Renaissance Generation" - the rise of the cultural consumer. Described in a new book by Patricia Martin [which is already on its way to my office!]: "Cultural consumers thrive on information and ideas to fuel their creative self-expression. As the RenGen gathers force in our civilization, it will change how we live and work."

Fascinating and makes total sense...witness the meteoric rise in popularity of wedding-design blogs like Style Me Pretty or Snippet & Ink , the DIY-craze [see new site and book] that grows by the day and of course the explosion of increasingly creative wedding photography that goes well beyond documenting the wedding day!!

For our market - the 'cultural consumer' really translates to the 'creative consumer' and as we read in the recent release from TheKnot [see earlier post], creativity truly is the *buzz* word for weddings in 2008!!

Some interesting exerpts from the article:

"Here's a riddle for the new marketplace being formed by the convergence of art, technology, business and education: If creativity is the gift of a talented few, why are so many people suddenly creative? CMOs grappling with the transformative power of the internet and the likes of YouTube and Facebook as advertising platforms may be missing the big picture: The internet is facilitating mass creative output from anyone and everyone. And the velocity of change it's churning in our society is gearing us up for something profound.

Check it out: RenGen. Americans who thrive on content that drives creativity will set the popular-culture agenda and fuel business innovation, Ms. Martin contends in her book. In fact, it looks a lot like what happens right before a renaissance. What we are witnessing runs deeper than fads or trends. It signals a time of vast cultural transformation that is founding a new generation. I call it the RenGen, short for renaissance generation. At its center is a powerful new player: the cultural consumer."


"The most valuable step you can take in positioning your brand for the rising renaissance is to be aware and to make your colleagues aware. The mounting evidence points to an enduring transformation. Sit down with your team and figure out how these ideas may impact your business, your brand and your job."

How creative are you in how you market, sell and service your current [and more importantly, your future] brides and grooms? How much creativity do you allow them in interacting with your brand? Interesting to explore...more on this as I learn more on this 'renaissance'!

"Just Engaged" BRIDES Nail Polish Collection

From my Inbox Today:

BRIDES magazine and Sally Hansen have teamed up to create a collection of must-have shades for every bride-to-be. Guided by BRIDES magazine, the industry’s authority on wedding day beauty and nail color Sally Hansen has custom designed Diamond Strength Nail Color shades to suit every blushing bride . . . this is the perfect “marriage” between America’s bridal expert and America’s #1 nail expert.

The “Just Engaged!” Collection is available in the following 8 shades:

-Sheer Magic
-I Do
-True Love
-First Dance
-Wedding Bells
-Sealed With A Kiss
-Passion Flower
-Wedding Bliss

What They Cost: $4.75

Where to Find Them: Drugstores nationwide

!!!FUN [and would make a really cute little and inexpensive bridal appreciation gift for your clients]!!!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Engaging Business Spotlight: The Bridal Bar

I am introducing a new feature called "Engaging Business Spotlight" to share some of the many innovative wedding-related businesses that I come across in my complete daily immersion in 'all things weddings'! There are so many great ones to share and I will try my best to get to them as time permits - but I encourage you to take some time to visit the websites of each and learn a bit more about them - and hopefully get some inspiration for your own business along the way!


I just LOVE what Harmony Walton is doing in LA and now San Diego with her innovative concept "The Bridal Bar" - I am an avid reader of her great Blog which is always filled with gorgeous eye-candy from southern CA based weddings.

A bit of background on Harmony and The Bridal Bar:

As a previous contributing editor at Inside Weddings Magazine, owner Harmony Walton, worked closely with event professionals, writing their stories, learning the tricks of their trades, and highlighting the top tier of vendors in the special events business. Harmony immediately saw a need to educate brides beyond the pages of a magazine and offer more interactive service to brides in need. Thus, the creation of The Bridal Bar; a high-end complimentary planning experience where brides and their families can educate themselves with the assistance of knowledgeable wedding professionals.

Harmony and her team have compiled an extensive group of event professionals that are well established and extremely well respected in their fields of expertise. Brides-to-be and party-throwers alike are encouraged to come in and lounge on our couch, sip complimentary champagne, view videos & DVD reels, listen to music samples, browse photographers’ images, and taste the cakes of this exquisite list of vendors.

The Bridal Bar seeks out the best, most unique vendors, products, concepts, locations, and so much more so that every bride who walks through the doors leaves an expert themselves. This original concept allows brides to preview and plan for their perfect event.

With the growing popularity of the bar, Harmony has once again found herself in the world of publishing. Now a Contributing Editor at Your Wedding Day Magazine as well as West Coast Producer for Get Married on Lifetime, she is keeping busy broadening her reach and continuing to educate the betrothed.

Her impressive list of past clients reads like the who's who of Hollywood and includes: Tom Cruise + Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt + Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Heigl + Josh Kelley, Will + Jada Smith...just to name a [very] FEW!!!!

Kudos to Harmony and the entire team at The Bridal Bar for thinking outside of the traditional wedding business model and creating a fresh, unique and exciting concept that is clearly successful...and fun too! I look forward to my first in-person visit during my next visit to CA!

A 'Must Have' book for your Wedding Library!

Be sure to order your copy of the newly released Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes Book to add to your Wedding Resource Library. Delicious in every way!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Speaking Engagements

Right before the holidays, I had the pleasure of being asked to speak to the entire sales and editorial team for "Destination Weddings & Honeymoons" Magazine. This is not the first time I have presented to this group and I always come away excited and enthusiastic about what they have planned to continue to grow their brand. They are doing great things at DWH and are so committed to this exploding market! We talked a bit about the power of blogging and I was pleased that they too have jumped on the 'blog bandwagon' with a new 'editors blog' that I know will continue to grow in the future and one that I will be sure to follow.

This was an excerpt from a nice note from Publisher Sue Gilman following the session:


Our sales meeting was two information and learning packed days! The sales team left feeling energized and revved up, and your presentation was a huge part of that excitement. Thank you for a great show! Honestly I wish I could bottle your energy!

Thanks again and I’m looking forward to a great year, and to seeing you out there!

All the best,

Sue Gilman
Caribbean Travel & Life
Destination Weddings & Honeymoons

I have a number of speaking engagements coming up in the next few months - to a variety of audiences. I am looking forward to each one for different reasons and also to growing this side of the business as it is a particular passion of mine. More on this in the near future!!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Destination Weddings All the Rage in '08!

So much to post about in the new year! Destination weddings are sure the 'big buzz' again already in '08 with the recent weddings of celebrities Eddie Murphy+Tracey Edmonds in Bora Bora and Kathryn Heigl+Josh Kelley in Park City, Utah.

Add to it a newly released article in FORBES Magazine showcasing the "World's Ultra-Exclusive Destination Wedding Spots" which includes the following excerpted quotes:

"Destination weddings are filling a need among the world's affianced. One out of every six couples getting married for the first time choose a destination wedding, according to, a wedding planning site.

That number rises to 61% for couples getting remarried.

For most folks, destination weddings offer a chance to celebrate in style. For high-profile brides and grooms such as Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds, who wed last weekend on a private island off French Polynesia's Bora Bora (they plan to legally wed in the U.S. when they return), or those seeking seclusion, destination weddings are the best way to guarantee privacy on the big day.

"If you want to have an incredible wedding, you can't beat a destination wedding," says Marilyn Oliveira, senior editor at "They are definitely a trend and growing every second."

Oliveira says private island weddings are among the most popular. That's because these beach spots offer seclusion, stunning scenery and, perhaps most important, sunshine."

Look for much, much more about this trend in the coming year - the numbers coming out are so powerful and everyone is 'in the destination wedding game these days! This poses great challenges as the competition is fierce - but with it comes amazing opportunity on every level.

We love it! Game on!

Friday, January 4, 2008

2008's Most Creative Wedding Trends

The Knot Unveils 2008's Most Creative Wedding Trends

[*WEDDEX NOTE: We have bolded or ** some of the items that should make you take extra note for your business!]

NEW YORK, Jan 03, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Creativity is the new word in weddings for 2008, according to leading wedding resource The Knot and the new issue of The Knot Magazine Spring 2008 issue, on newsstands January 28, 2008.

"Brides want to be anything but boring this year," explains Carley Roney, editor-in-chief of The Knot. "From resourceful ways to get the perfect look to decadent reception decor inspired by Sofia Coppola's fashion epic Marie Antoinette, surprising elements like '80s cover bands, and daring destinations, couples are going to new lengths to infuse their personalities into their big day."

The Knot reveals the wedding style forecast for 2008:


STEAL THE LOOK (...WE MEAN, RENT IT!): Brides in lust with the luxury labels have found salvation at sites like; for less than $100, you can rent a $2,600 pair of Vera Wang diamond and pearl-studded earrings or a Judith Leiber jeweled-encrusted clutch worth over $3,500. [*A WEDDEX note: although we love client ADORN BRIDES for this very *hot* trend as they are dedicated exclusively to wedding-bling and soon to launch a hot new website with expanded inventory!!]

SPLIT-PERSONALITY BRIDES: Brides are doing a double take during the wedding: doing presto-changos with their gowns (*sometimes up to three wardrobe changes) and sneaking away during cocktail hour for a whole new hairdo (classic updos for the ceremony, then sexy tousled tresses on the dance floor!).


THE "MARIE ANTOINETTE" WEDDING: We bet that Sofia Coppola had no idea that her fashionable blockbuster would inspire a whole new class of bourgeoisie brides! Lush floral centerpieces, rich gilded colors, big gowns, brocade, and decadent receptions are fit for royalty, complete with hand-painted invitations, **champagne tasting bars, **seven courses, and **extravagant dessert displays!

'80'S COVER BANDS: Oh L'Amour! Couples are going beyond the classic wedding band and hiring '80s cover bands to play their favorite tunes from Men at Work, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. Other genre bands for hire: classic rock, college frat-house bands, swing orchestras, and Latin ensembles--along with hired dancers to get the party moving.

GREEN WEDDINGS: Couples continue to be earth-conscious in 2008: from email invites for weddings and festivities to serving up locally grown, free-range fare and donning bio-friendly wedding gowns made of 100 percent silk and cottons. They're also **honeymooning at eco-resorts and gathering friends for charitable showers at soup kitchens and local park events.


**THE SOCIAL NETWORK WEDDING: From viral proposal videos posted on YouTube to enhanced wedding web pages and Facebook-friend polling on first dance songs and menu options, weddings have become public planning ventures. Look for couples to log online, use **blogs as "communication central," and, with new mobile technology, post on-the-road photos to get immediate feedback on decisions from their bridesmaids, friends, and family.**

THE REAL WORLD: YOUR WEDDING: Couples will get celebrity exposure with major video footage of their wedding days, from "day in the life of" documentary-style videos to "same day edits" where ceremony photos and footage are highlighted at the reception. Guests become paparazzi with disposable video cameras on the tables.


DARING DESTINATION WEDDINGS: **The destination wedding trend will continue to evolve as new spots emerge.** From taking guests on African safaris to skiing the slopes of Sundance, fly-fishing in Big Sky, Montana, and jetting off to Barcelona and Scottish castles!

HONEYMOONS ON STEROIDS: **Twice as long, twice as far, twice as memorable: Couples are going the distance for their deluxe vacations.
Read much more on these and other 2008 wedding trends here!