Bridal Bliss

It’s the million dollar question. What every man, woman, and child — and especially retailers — involved in wedding-day planning want to know: what do brides really want? What will give the bride her perfect day and everyone around her some perfect peace? A secret like this comes with great power, and with great power comes the potential for awesome retail sales for bridal season 2010.

While men may never figure out what women really want, it’s relatively easy for retailers to help please even the pickiest of brides. It’s simply a matter of putting a bride’s needs first. The sales — and bridal event bliss — are sure to follow.

Simple Solution
Of course, no wedding will be perfect. Most brides will get frustrated at some point, taking the stress out — even unnecessarily — on anyone. Denise Hagopian, owner of Heavenly Choice Flowers and Events, knows about difficult brides from personal experience.

“Today, brides don’t let go of control and work too hard at their own wedding, thinking of details instead of just enjoying the moment,” Hagopian said. “They also don’t spread out the day’s responsibilities because they can’t let go. If it’s not perfect they somehow think the whole day was ruined.”

Hagopian said her attention to detail and personal determination to make the bride’s day perfect is what has impressed her customers and kept her brides happy for more than 25 years.

Every bride’s wedding day is the most important day to ever grace her calendar. And a date with such magnitude and significance, in the humble bride’s opinion, should never be overlooked — by anyone.

I was once a bride myself, and can clearly remember the endless pursuit of perfecting every last detail of that special day. And I can identify with the frustrations of trying to make my day as important to other people — from the mother-of-the-bride to worn-out retailers — as it was to me.

And there lies the simplest way to please all brides: let them know that you care about their weddings as much as they do. You want their days to be as perfect as they’ve imagined. You want their dresses to be flawless, their ceremonies romantic and their receptions stunning. You want theirs to be the best wedding possible.

While no perfect wedding is a guarantee, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, if you follow these helpful tips, you’ll find that working with brides to make their days perfect can be a pleasure. And a pleasurable experience and happy bride may just lead to many more perfect wedding days and blissful retail sales.

Trendy Tips
Offer items that can be personalized.

“Having options to customize all aspects of the special day, from invitations to toasting goblets, is key to a well-rounded, one-stop shopping experience,” said Jenn Catron, product and merchandising director at Hortense B. Hewitt Co.

The company has made personalized bridal products a priority for 2010.

“Due to the consistent demand of personalization and options, we’ve expanded our personalized accessory selection,” Catron said. “Gifts, favors, toasting goblets, serving sets, cake tops and more can be personalized through engraving, embroidery, foil stamping and printing. Also the customer can individually select typestyles, colors, designs and layout options to make the product uniquely their own.”

Brenda Boyer, promotions specialist with Carlson Craft, reiterated the importance of personalized products.

“Today’s brides’ wishes are diverse,” Boyer said. “Bridal couples want their wedding day to be as personalized as possible. Therefore, must-have items depend on the personal style of each individual couple. Today’s couples have diverse motivations, needs and tastes. To stay competitive, merchants must stay flexible and have a wide range of products available with expanded design options so that individual dreams can come true.”

Offer a range of items.
Make sure you include traditional and contemporary styles, as well as the latest trends.

“Retailers should aim at providing a wide range of products to suit a wide range of styles,” Boyer said. “The key is to know your customers, be ready to serve them with respect and offer them quality and style within their budget allowance.”

A wide range of trends is also key. “In regards to design motifs, birds are popular,” Catron added. “Patterns remain popular, with damask topping the charts, and floral is also strong.”

Catron noted the growing popularity of seasonal and destination-themed weddings, with a growing demand for fall products. Hortense B. Hewitt has introduced a “Simply Autumn” collection to fit this growing niche.

Boyer said that going green with bridal products is becoming a must for a lot of couples, adding that because the environment is still a top concern for many couples, offering “green” products and services is a must.

Color is key.
A bride begins her wedding day planning by choosing her colors. Match any bridal color selections with an array of the traditional white, ivory, and black items. But be sure to have a wide color palette to pair with the basic black and white.

“It is still all about color,” Catron said. “Brides continue to mix and match a wide range of colors to create the perfect color combination. Many times the wedding theme is based on color. The fuchsia/black/white combination remains popular, as well as all ranges of blue.”

Catron added that the Customized with Color collection from Hortense B. Hewitt fits this product need. The six-piece collection, in white or ivory satin, is custom-made from a choice of more than 25 ribbon colors to create that perfect color combination.

According to Boyer, “bright colors like yellows, oranges, pinks and turquoise — colors once thought of as destination wedding colors — are now being used in the main. Grey is trending as the new neutral.”

Merchandising Musts
Create some space. Most brides have planners, notebooks, binders, etc. that they’re carrying around with their mini-entourage of moms and bridesmaids, and they want to spread out and see multiple options at once. Consider putting a “bridal corner” in your store with a small table and chairs for brides to be more comfortable. This also enables you to efficiently display bridal products as they would appear in the wedding, instead of crammed on a shelf.

Offer special bridal consultations by appointment to give them undivided attention and be able to meet all of their needs. If at all possible, make sure to have someone in the store that can empathize with brides! Remember, brides aren’t out to make your day miserable. They’re simply looking for someone who is invested in their special day.

Originally posted Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2010