Beware the Best of Lists

Just about every city or hamlet has them, blogs have them, websites have them and they all sound so good. What am I talking about? Those ubiquitous “Best Of” lists. Just how good are they? Do they really represent anything? Not really.

There are two basic types: pure numbers and private selection. The pure numbers one is the most prevalent. You know what I’m talking about; some local paper or website runs a marketing campaign to get everyone to vote for their favorite wedding vendors. Best Cake in Bugtussle, Best Photographer, Best Florist and so on. You know as well as I do these are nothing more than a giant ballot box stuffing fest devised to drive traffic to the sponsor’s website. Everyone that is nominated sends out email to their entire network saying “Vote for ME!!!” You’ve done it, so have I. I voted everyday for a friend’s bridal salon to be Best of Boston. Have I shopped there? I’ve never even been to Boston! Of course now I can’t seem to get off the lead list for whatever Boston paper it was that ran the thing.

My point is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the vendors that win, well not usually*. It has to do with how deep their network is.

Yesterday I say a new one. This one was all full of itself and set up to be different. Nomination were open, just fill out the form. Then the website owner and one other person would review the nominees and pick the top three in each category. Hahaha, ya right.

I have been in this industry in this market for over 20 years. I have been an active member of the largest regional bridal networking organization for almost that long. I work on the B2B end now and hear all the dirt from everyone. Having said that you would have to figure that I have a pretty decent handle on what’s what and who’s who around here.

As my friend, a wedding planner and I looked over the winners yesterday, we started seeing a distinct trend. All the winners were second to third tier players and interestingly enough, either advertisers on the site or had been the vendors of the bride chosen to do the review. Not one of the people places or things that always rise to the top was chosen. Not one.

What makes me sad is that there are brides that look to these lists for answers. It isn’t fair to mislead the public like this just to drive traffic to your site and your friends. Take these things with a big grain of salt and recognize them for what they are: marketing tools for the sponsor.

*I said usually because there is one that really does it right and must be honest to a fault. After all, they picked me for best dessert in Nashville 13 years in a row! LOL

Size Matters: The Rise of The Small Wedding

I just read an interesting press release on the annual survey, “What’s On Brides Minds’” conducted by Infosurv, Inc. for David’s Bridal. According to the survey results, 75% of brides-to-be now have to adjust their budget because of the current economic climate. One of the ways there are making that adjustment is by reducing the guest list. According to the same survey 45% are going this route.

Intimate Backyard Wedding

Intimate Backyard Wedding

For a lot of reasons, having a smaller more intimate wedding is a good thing. Rather than your wedding becoming a major production on the scale of a stage show, it becomes a small celebration with those that are closest to you. It lowers the nerve quotient and ups the meaning factor in one fell swoop.

A recent post on IntimateWeddings.com lists 10 reasons to have a smaller more intimate wedding. Every reason is a good one, but my favorite is #7

You get to spend time with your guests. How many weddings have made you feel like a stranger fulfilling a social obligation? Small weddings aren’t like that. When the guest list is small, the bride and groom can spend time with each of their guests, making them feel welcome.

Like I have been saying for a while, the weddings you see on TV aren’t the Real American Wedding, they are the anomaly. It is time that the wedding media got back to reality and started showing brides that they can have a wonderful, touching, meaning full wedding with out taking out a second mortgage.

Image courtesy of Cottages and Castles Vacation Rentals

Escort Card Alternatives

Sometimes I get tired of seeing the same old set-up for escort cards: lovely cards surrounding elaborate floral centerpiece. Why not do something a little different with either the display or the ‘card’ itself.

The first three are cards but displayed in an interesting way.

The next three are unique items used as escort cards and the last three are full on favors. I just think that idea is wicked cool.

All of them are very DIYable. OK, so maybe not that last one is a little trickier than the rest. I promise you it is doable, I did about 100 for a bride once. They were time consuming and tedious, but doable none the less.

The Real American Wedding

You see it everywhere, the average wedding in America is $28,000. Well do you know where that number came from? I do, and it’s wrong!

There are 2 entities perpetuating this myth, The Wedding Report and The Knot.com.

Here is the problem with that number. They took the total spent on weddings in America and divided it by the number of wedding. What happens is you get one or two million dollar wedding and it skews the whole number. Kind of like the old joke about Bill Gates walking into the homeless shelter and suddenly the average net worth of everyone there is over a million bucks. It just isn’t true.

I have dissected these numbers to death on Think Like A Bride and I don’t know why I never shared it with you. Here is the truth, 82% of the weddings in America fall below that $28,000 benchmark. 82%! How is that for skewing a number?

The truth is that the Average Wedding in America falls more realistically at $14,000 and below. They powers that be in the wedding industry want you to believe the higher number so you will spend more.

If you have ever read the sidebar then you know I am not a big proponent of bigger is better when it come to weddings. It’s time to end this myth.

Here are a couple of blogs to get you started on the road to not breaking the bank.

$10,000 Only

$2000 Wedding

Reality Check

One of the problems with the main stream media has long been that they live in their own little reality bubble; one that most of us will never occupy. The unfortunate consequence of this is that it heavily colors what they publish.

Let’s take Modern Bride for example. If you look at their editorial coverage of wedding gowns you get the distinct feeling that the only wedding gowns worth wearing start at $3,000. When the average budget for weddings in America is between $10,000 and $14,000 how many real brides are spending upwards of 1/3 of their budget on their gown? Not too many, I suspect. Yet when you look through the major magazines those are the gowns that are showcased.

Apparently I am not the only one that noticed. I was copied last week on a letter from Steve Lang, CEO of Mon Cheri Bridal to William Wackermann, Alison Matz, and Jennifer Hicks at Conde Nast; the publisher behind Modern Bride and Brides. Here is a quote from Mr. Lang

the editorial coverage still so heavily weighted towards high end lines continues to tell 97% of the consumers who read your publications that the high end dresses they cannot afford deserve more coverage then the dresses their budgets will allow them to buy. Yes, you added two pages of less expensive dresses but the premier editorial pages are still dedicated to 3% of your reading/buying audience.

Your publications do not serve the marketplace I have dedicated my life to.

Nor do they serve the majority of their readers. I have long held that there are beautiful, amazing bridal gowns out there for real American women, but you will never see them in the major bridal magazines. The same is true for most every other aspect of weddings today.

Beautiful weddings, like beautiful gowns can happen on a realistic budget. They happen everyday, but you will never see them in the media. Just look at the weddings they cover as “Real Weddings”. Real for maybe 3% of the weddings taking place.

On page 74 of the same issue of Modern Bride that inspired Mr. Lang was a bit about coasters for your wedding: double sided letterpress coasters, $700 for 100. Yes my friends, Modern Bride thinks you should aspire to spend $7 apiece for disposable paper coasters for your wedding reception.

As the economy continues its correction, magazines that insist on maintaining this editorial trajectory will become more and more irrelevant.

What are your feelings on this? How do you view wedding porn? Would you rather see more reality or do you see them as some sort of fantasy/science fiction publication?

Hide the Bride

There just are not words…

Oh wait, didn’t someone say something about tulleolopes?

See the complete story here.

Tulleolopes and Other Horrors

An entire herd of Tulleolopes died to make this dress!


Badly in need of a bit of a laugh due to having spent the last two days in bed with a Godzilla sized case of the sniffles I decides to check out my favorite forum, Kvetch on Indie Bride.

I knew the IBs wouldn’t let me down. I found a link posted by Calypso to the Wedding Gown Hall of Shame. Oh my! Before I knew it I had tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard.

The captions like the one above are what make this site a most worthy waste of time. It may not be work friendly due only to the uncontrollable urge to laugh out loud.

Monogamy as a Marketing Campaign

I’m just not sure where I stand on this. Hearts on Fire which according to their press is the pre-eminent consumer brand in the luxury jewelry diamond business is using monogamy to help brand their product. I kind of had it in my head that was already associated with wedding rings, didn’t you?

Their new campaign “Monogamy100” is being released for print, radio and TV. You can view the ads on their new website. Here is just one little blurb I pulled out of it.

“As The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond®, a Hearts On Fire diamond is an enduring declaration of your commitment to a relationship that is deep, rich and meaningful. One that goes beyond conventional definitions. One that exceeds conventional expectations of love and monogamy. And one that deserves a diamond beyond conventional beauty.”

This quote makes me wonder if they are trying to convince me that if I get a better diamond I will get a better grade of monogamy. HUH?

I’m thinking emerald or sapphire at this point.