by: Lauren

 

“Is the wedding industry dying?”

 

The past few months, maybe even year, I’ve asked myself this question and have had this underlying feeling of dread towards the changes happening in the wedding industry. I don’t know if you’ve felt it too, but it’s been weighing on my heart nearly every single day. I’m not quite sure how to put it all into words, but I just wanted to get my thoughts down, because I feel that there needs to be a conversation started regarding these changes.

I think it’s a combination of several things really.

They say that as competition increases, prices go down, and this is for sure happening. There are more and more people starting wedding businesses, which means that these newcomers are priced lower than those who are more experienced and have been in business for a longer amount of time. And we all remember what it was like to be new- you likely have a job and are doing your new business as a “side hustle”, meaning that you can easily justify your lower prices since you have other means of income. On top of that, it is very easy to market yourself and be found thanks to Instagram, and nice websites are WAY easy to make for less money.

Now don’t get me wrong, I totally support entrepreneurship, and I definitely believe that newcomers shouldn’t price themselves too high when they start out. However, I think because there are SO many newcomers, that it’s easy for couples to find a decent wedding vendor for a lesser cost. This unfortunately is leaving the experienced, higher priced vendors with less and less bookings. On the flip side, the newcomers that aren’t yet full time are either going to have to raise their prices eventually to create a full time income, or they’re going to always be doing photography as a “side hustle” because they need a full time income supplied by a “real job”.

The issue is this: it’s bringing the wedding industry as a whole down. I hate saying that. But it’s true. I’ve been hearing about more and more wedding professionals who have been in business for 10+ years having to shut down, simply because couples won’t pay them what they’re worth, and what they need to sustain.

And then there’s the issue of today’s couples altogether.

I don’t quite know what it is yet- I have a few surveys that I want to conduct to find out cold hard facts. BUT, I am hypothesizing that couples aren’t valuing services are much as they value THINGS, and therefore they don’t want to spend as much on the services associated with their wedding. I have no idea why this is a thing, or even if it’s true- especially since Millennials are supposedly quite in tune with experiences. Is it the immediacy that apps and Amazon Prime and delivery services have created as the norm? Is it that couples have become “blind” to things at weddings potentially going wrong because of an inexperienced vendor, because those stories are fewer and far between now thanks to couples hiring professionals in past years?

I do know these facts, thanks to the Splendid Insights 2017 Global Wedding Study, gathering data from couples married in 2016:

  • More couples are paying for their weddings themselves or in partnership with parents
  • 77% of couples have budgets of $30,000 or less, and 19% have budgets of $31,000 to $95,000, and 4% (was 7% in 2016)  have budgets of $96,000 or higher
  • 52% of couples reported that “speediness of email replies” was Very Important to them when hiring a wedding professional
  • 72% of couples use Pinterest for wedding-related activities, 51% use Facebook, and 24% use Instagram

But you know what else is baffling? That in 2016, according to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding reached an all time high of $35,329. I’m doing some data analysis of my own regarding wedding pro pricing (fill out the survey HERE if you haven’t already!), and I’m also currently analyzing The Knot’s numbers for past years to see what kind of changes have been happening.

Now, what can we make of those facts?

First of all, I’m almost positive the Instagram use of couples is higher for 2017. Secondly, not as many couples are spending as much on their weddings as past years. Couples are also putting a high value on customer service. As far as the average cost goes, what I’m seeing thus far is that there has been a significant increase in the amounts spent on wedding venue and engagement ring. The wedding venue increase could very well be that venues know they are going to get whatever they want to charge because they’re usually the first thing booked- I’ve heard of several situations where a couple blows their entire budget on the wedding venue because they simply don’t know any better. And then for engagement ring… it’s a PRODUCT, which reinforces my notion about products being more valuable to couples than services.

But all in all, WHO EVEN KNOWS?

So basically… wedding vendors are expected to be active on social media, super fast in their response times, all while charging less. And the thing about these items, knowing many of my friends who have well-established wedding businesses, is that it’s hard to do ALL THE THINGS when you’re busy! So, I can totally understand why less-experienced (and less-busy) vendors ARE able to do “all the things” and get those bookings. Because they have more time, they’re able to be active on social media, they’re able to be responsive to their inquiries, and they’re charging less.

And then, I would be remiss if I didn’t include wedding publications in this “circle of life”. Because the truth of the matter is this- if couples are spending less with wedding vendors, then wedding vendors are spending less on marketing and working with wedding publications. Running a wedding publication is a lot of work, and believe it or not, there is definitely overhead. Not to mention, the demand on wedding publications for speedy replies, fast publication, and updated technology/websites is pretty high- all of which are typically more than one person can handle, and therefore require money to be spent in order to have assistance in achieving these things. So if publications are making less money, some may need to shut down, or alternatively have less output in order to cut costs, and therefore, will be providing less exposure opportunities for wedding pros, and as a result, less ways for couples to find vendors. (Note: This is not foreshadowing. 😉 ELD is NOT going anywhere, don’t you worry.)

Now, I have NO IDEA what the answer to all of this is, and I definitely have more thoughts, as this is literally running through my brain ALL. THE. TIME. When it comes to ELD, I’m trying to do my part to educate couples about wedding costs, what to expect, and the importance of hiring professionals. (Sidenote: If you haven’t filled out the 2017 Wedding Pro Pricing Survey yet, you can do so here!) But above all else, I think that a conversation needs to be started in the wedding industry.

So let’s chat and start this conversation.

Is the wedding industry dying? What has your experience been? Leave a comment here, or head over to my ELD For Pros Instagram account and comment on this post. Let’s figure out how we can all support one another in this industry!

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Lauren

Founder & Editor at Every Last Detail
Lauren Grove is the editor and owner of Every Last Detail. A clueless bride-turned-wedding planner, Lauren uses her experiences and knowledge to educate and inspire brides all over the world.
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