The many white hues of a dark recession: Luxury of a fairytale wedding

Amid recessionary times, and sagging demand, wedding planners have no other choice but to cut prices. Agencies work with lower profit margins, but the real battle in wedding market will be in 2010, when the effects of the sluggish demand will be more visible.
Different evolution in crisis

If last year was better than 2007 to wedding planning agencies, the crisis impacted the market in the early months of 2009, a seasonal industry based on bookings made well beforehand, at least a year.

“In 2008 the demand increased significantly from a year earlier. Both the number and consistency of events improved and subsequently, the turnover of our company grew 60% accordingly. But in 2009, the picture turned bleaker, the number of events as well as services on demand dropped gradually”, said Anca Geanta, manager of Casa Anke agency.

Andreea Sacher, wedding planner at Grande Maison des Mariages said that an additional reason for the negative trend of the market was the fact that for any wedding planning agencies the beginning of the year is always more difficult, as few people want to have a wedding in wintertime. In early spring, there is a very long period of fasting, and the wedding season begins as late as April.

“For 2008, we had a turnover of 100,000 euros, and in first quarter 2009, we’ve experienced a roughly 30% decline year-on-year”, said Tiberiu Kulin, manager of Chic Mariage agency.

The primary reasons of the decline is the sagging demand, prices charged by agencies for provided services, as well as the number of guests as many people seek to cut back on expensive luxury weddings and go with a more recession-friendly ceremony.

On the other hand, Alin Caraman, manager of Bon Mariage, says the agency’s turnover of 2 million euros at end-2008 didn’t suffer any decline in 2009, and this because the company diversified its offer and also due to its major investment in Ghica Palace, an extremely appreciated location in Bucharest.

Impacts of the financial crisis

Under the current shaky market conditions, the managers of the wedding planning agencies have no other option but to cut prices and work with profit margins 10-30% lower.

“Another effect of the crisis, which I’ve never seen in my nine-year experience, is the fact that people don’t come to plan out the ceremony soon enough. They wait ‘till the last minute, as they are uncertain on their future incomes”, said Tiberiu Kulin.

At the same time, people are tapering back on spending large amounts or stop spending at all on things that are not mandatory in a ceremony, on things that are considered pure luxuries. In addition, the number of guests at a wedding started to shrink, as Tiberiu Kulin observed. But even the guests who actually attend the event are 30-40% fewer than those who confirmed beforehand.

“Today, fewer people attend a wedding, the couples stick to the basic wedding necessities (like food, beverages, music) over decorations, flower arrangements, limousines, or fireworks”, said Andreea Sacher (photo).

The number of events dropped as well, same as more and more clients cancel their wedding ceremonies, on higher prices than anticipated.

“From a client per week in 2000, to 7-8 in 2009”

In spite of all this, Romanians start to show more interest to wedding planners. “If in 2000 we had one client per week in average, now we receive 7-8 applications”, said the manager of Chic Mariage.

The development of this market segment is reflected in the increase of the number of players in the market. If there were only a few agencies in Bucharest in 2001, new there are nearly 400.

“Over time, Romanians grasped the need of a wedding planner, given the increasing number of newcomers in the market over the past two years. If at first, people were thinking that these agencies charge high fees and were taking a dig at them, over time, they understood that they can actually save not only a lot of time, but also money”, Andreea Sacher added.

Recently, restaurants start competing with agencies as they offer a large pack of services for wedding ceremonies. As Tiberiu Kulin said, there are two categories of clients: couples who know exactly what they want for their wedding and use the services offered by a wedding planner, and clients who just accept what they are being offered.

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