“As a bridal store owner celebrating thirteen years in business in September, I’ve seen a few things. I’ve owned a business directly after a recession. I’ve been part of many ebbs and flows and wedding trends of the bridal industry. Hello, big black bows and pick up skirts, we’re looking at you!
I want to share some of my thoughts and expertise on how the wedding industry and wedding trends are shifting as we head into 2024. The bridal tea, if you will.
CHANGING WEDDING TRENDS AND WHAT AFFECTS THEM
In April 2023 we saw one of the “bridal giants” file for their second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the last five years. They owe millions of dollars to their debtors and have a relatively small amount of assets compared to those debts.
WEDDING TRENDS AND NEW TRADITIONS
Taken from Springfield Business Journal, “while weddings have rebounded since virtually coming to a halt during the early days of the pandemic, a decline in marriage rates and a shift toward more casual ceremonies has hampered the wedding industry overall.” A statement from wedding industry executive Jim Marcum reads in part: ‘An increasing number of brides are opting for less traditional wedding attire, including thrift wedding dresses. These shifting consumer preferences have significantly exacerbated the demand for formal wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and related accessories has decreased substantially in the current environment.”
While I do agree that wedding trends have shifted over the last few years, specifically surrounding the pandemic. I think that the reason that big box stores have struggled is that they have not kept up with the evolution in the tastes and preferences of brides. What are brides looking for in a wedding gown and shopping experience? Here are the top 3 things we’ve seen:
BRIDES WANT MORE OF AN EXPERIENCE AS THEY SHOP FOR THEIR GOWN.
They want to be surrounded by their family members in an intimate setting. Snapping pictures, and creating a memory of how they said yes to the dress. It’s more about those emotions, those moments, those experiences than saving the most amount of money. It’s the most important gown they’ll ever wear in their lifetime. They want to work with a store that gets that. Who walks with them through their journey. Who remembers their name and asks them questions about the planning process.
BRIDES WANT A MORE UNIQUE GOWN THAN THEY SEE EVERYWHERE.
Who wants to walk down the aisle in the same gown that their cousin did? Who wants their guests to be able to go online and see exactly how much they paid for their gown? Brides want a gown that reflects them, their personality, and their wedding day. That their guests remember because it was unique and totally “them”.
BRIDES WANT BETTER SERVICE WHEN THEY ARE SHOPPING FOR THEIR WEDDING GOWN.
I mean, does this really need to be said? Brides want a stylist they can connect with during their appointment. Who cheers them on and plays their wedding song for them while they stand in their gown. They don’t want a stylist who’s not really interested in the wedding industry or who’s going back and forth between them and two other brides.
Yes, weddings and wedding trends have shifted. We see more and more brides having smaller ceremonies or even eloping. But, we still see brides buying the gown that they love for these occasions. Because they are still the bride no matter where the ceremony is or how many people are sitting in the audience. We still see brides wanting an experience. Brides want to work with someone who’s passionate about the wedding industry.
BRIDAL STORES SHIFTING WITH BRIDAL TRENDS
Whether or not this particular gown store chain goes bankrupt or lives to continue to sell wedding gowns for a few more years, I think what’s clear is that bridal stores have to shift with brides. We have to anticipate what they want, both in the styles of gowns they say yes to, and also in the experiences that they create along the way.
If any, the recent challenges of COVID have taught us to appreciate those moments even more. To cherish our loved ones deeply. To celebrate life moments in unique ways.” – E •
ABOUT ONCE UPON A TIME WEDDINGS: Offering brides an unforgettable bridal experience as well as have unique and beautiful wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses. We want you to love your gown AND we want you to create the most wonderful Say Yes story. We stock wedding gowns size 8-32 and our gowns range in price from $899-2399.
As seen in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of The Wedding Ring Magazine
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