Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast. But it does spend a lot of money.
For the past several years, there has been a steady average of 2.1 million marriages taking place in the U.S. every year, says Jamie Miles, editor at wedding planning site TheKnot.com.
Multiply that staggering number with the average overall budget of $28,000 per event and you have a desirable market to tap into. What's more, the economy doesn't seem to be having a negative effect on celebration budgets.
"In 2011, budgets increased for the first time since the economic downturn, and in 2012, we saw that wedding budgets are continuing to rise even more, and to an all-time high since 2008," says Carley Roney, co-founder of TheKnot.com. "Couples are increasingly less concerned with the economy, and are comfortable investing more than ever in the once-in-a-lifetime experience of planning their wedding and making it a fabulous experience for their guests."
With that said, the only real problem online sellers face is determining exactly how they will tap into the market.
Not only are there traditional items used at almost every wedding—such as bubbles and candles—but there are also unique themes and colors to consider
Find your niche
If you want to take advantage of wedding sales, there are a myriad of wedding niches to choose from. When you include all the details between the wedding dress and the honeymoon, it can be quite overwhelming to realize the full potential of inventory you might have on your hands.
Not only are there several traditional items used at almost every wedding—such as bubbles and candles—but there are also unique themes and different colors to consider, as well.
For this reason, it's best to perhaps start with one, two or three items. You can always expand your options later, once you get a good grasp on your first selections. If you can figure out how it applies to a wedding, start first with what you already sell. Otherwise, choose a particular item, theme or color.
Steve and Jennifer Chou started their successful business in 2007 with hand-embroidered wedding linen napkins and handkerchiefs. The idea originated from Jennifer's "infatuation" with embroidering and her personal experience of trying to find personalized handkerchiefs for their own wedding.
"I knew there was a market for it because if I wanted a personalized hankie, I was sure other brides would too," she notes.
The couple says they tested the market on eBay first and then moved into their own domain, Bumblebee Linens, once they had the niche figured out.
Themes, colors and a checklist
Last year, Roney at TheKnot.com noted that brides are going back to traditional, classy and formal wedding styles, with added elements from pop culture. Examples of this from the last couple years include Kate Middleton's wedding, 2012's mega-moon, and movies such as "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games". Grooms and their groomsmen have even been known to incorporate comic-book characters, such as Superman and Batman, into their attire somehow.
Blue and purple seem to remain among the top colors of choice. Brown is out, gray is 'gaining steam,' and green and pink are sticking around
Some other useful information gleaned from TheKnot.com includes the fact blue and purple seem to remain among the top colors of choice. Brown is out, gray is "gaining steam," and green and pink are sticking around.
If you decide to focus on color themes for your shop, browse some popular wedding sites to see what shades are trending.
Here is a checklist of basic components many brides will have on their shopping list:
- Wedding gown, veil, gloves, shoes, tiara, undergarments, jewelry
- Bridal party dresses, shoes, jewelry
- Groom and groomsmen tuxedos, shoes, cufflinks
- Engagement announcements, wedding invitations
- Cake, cupcakes, cake stand, cake knife, cake topper
- Music, DJ, band
- Photographer, videographer
- Bouquet, decorative flowers (real or artificial)
- Rings, ring pillow
- Honeymoon gear (dependent on location; could be beach, mountains or other theme)
- Ribbons, bows, garlands, confetti, balloons, petals
- Table centerpieces
- Disposable cameras
- Porcelain or disposable dinnerware settings, champagne flutes
- Party favors, candy, plastic rings
- Gifts for bridal party
- Vases, candles, sand
- Guestbook and pens
- Napkins, tablecloths, doilies
- Hand fans, some sort of reading material for guests
Finding your source
As you can see, it would be impossible to try to cater to the entire event right from the start. But if you start with just a few items, you can package them together or try cross-selling. Brides may even go to sites such as Etsy to find a seller who will do all the decorative legwork for them. You can sell ready-made items (think little bubbles with ribbons and rings attached) or offer a more customized service (think personalized invites).
And don't forget the fact that guests will be doing their own shopping for the event, as well. Even if you sell kitchenware, you can market what you already have for the wedding season.
Before you commit to one wedding niche idea, first try selecting, say, 10 items you would like to consider selling in your shop for the wedding season. This gives you a little wiggle room when it comes down to finding a supplier and working with a budget. As you research the cost and profit margins on your list, narrow your decision down to the top three that work best for you.
A majority of couples get engaged in December, and brides-to-be turn to the Internet for wedding ideas in January
Depending on your budget and the market you're catering to, you might source directly from discount stores or find a better quality supply from wholesalers.
There's no pat answer to how you can find the right wholesale supplier, if you want to go that route. Talk to other retailers you network with and ask them who they trust, or start with reputable suppliers on sites such as Alibaba.com and TopTenWholesale. Another option is to find nearby trade shows by conducting a search for "bridal trade shows USA."
Wedding inventory almost all year long
Past surveys conducted by TheKnot.com indicate a majority of couples get engaged in December. A report by AdGooroo supports this idea, indicating brides-to-be turn to the Internet for wedding ideas in January.
Generally, the "wedding season" sits between the summer months of June to August, but that trend has been declining in favor of the fall months, September to November. The least favorable time to tie the knot is during the peak winter months, January through March.
From this information, we can surmise our brides will get a feel for the big picture between January and March. They'll discover what brand and type of dress they want, and what the overall theme will be. During the next three months, they will start looking for reliable shops to buy from. If competitive prices are important, they will also search for budget-friendly sources.
From late spring into fall, purchases will be made for the big day. In order to have your inventory ready during this shopping season, start sourcing your products at least four months in advance of when you want to list.
"Couples generally purchase items for their weddings anywhere from six months to even a year in advance, so there should always be a good amount of inventory prepared," Miles says.
Demand could even be considerably high in the off season, too, she adds.