NEW YORK — Wedding March on Madison, the pet project of Bride’s and Modern Bride magazine, is turning out to be just like a real wedding: There’s a big event, a little feuding and strenuous planning that will likely pay off in the...
NEW YORK — Wedding March on Madison, the pet project of Bride’s and Modern Bride magazine, is turning out to be just like a real wedding: There’s a big event, a little feuding and strenuous planning that will likely pay off in the end.
The event, which could also be viewed as a three-day bridal boot camp, seeks to bring high-end wedding clients to New York’s Madison Avenue to learn about every possible detail of planning a wedding, with bridal industry leaders acting as drill sergeants.
It begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19, with a cocktail party at Barneys New York and ends about midday Sunday, Sept. 21, with a fashion show featuring high-end designers.
The $135 entrance fee includes a one-year subscription to Bride’s and Modern Bride, as well as admission to most of the events, though several have additional fees, such as a breakfast with makeup artist Bobbi Brown. The fee is significantly higher than most bridal shows, such as Bosco’s Bridal Fashion Show & Expo in Stamford, Conn., which only charges $6 per person.
Bridal industry leaders such as cake maker Sylvia Weinstock, the editors of Bride’s and Modern Bride, and event planners such as Colin Cowie, Preston Bailey and Avi Adler, will all hold discussions throughout the day Saturday. The roughly 50 seminars and panel discussions include topics such as, “Trends in Bridal Fashion,” “The Cartier Wedding,” “Beyond the White Wedding — Floral Inspirations,” and nonwedding issues such as “Buying Your First Home.”
“This is the first time somebody has attempted to do a higher-end bridal fair,” said Tom Bugbee, president of Monique Lhuiller, which is taking part in the fashion show. “Around the country there are quite a lot of people that put together these types of shows, but they’re usually very homey.”
The event is being held in association with the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, which had wanted to establish a luxury bridal event in the neighborhood.
“It’s not just [boutiques] with wedding gowns — we have crystal boutiques, linen stores, jewelry shops and our hotels are sites for weddings every week,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue BID. “We recognized on Madison there are so many different types of businesses connected to the bridal market. Our thought was, ‘Let’s try to bring them together.’”According to Bauer, the BID’s marketing department approached the magazines’ publisher, Condé Nast, since it had previously held events with other of its titles, such as Architectural Digest and Vanity Fair. Condé Nast is a division of Advance Publications, which also owns WWD publisher Fairchild Publications.
More than 35 BID members will participate in the Wedding March, including Barneys New York, Chanel, Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera, as well as some restaurants and museums. Overall, the BID has 350 ground-floor retailers as members.
So far, the event has only attracted a little more than 400 brides-to-be, which is about half of the event’s goal of 800 to 1,000 attendees.
The Wedding March on Madison is also a way for Bride’s magazine to generate advertising revenue, and the title has added 38 new advertisers to its client roster as a result, according to Nina Lawrence, vice president and publisher of the Condé Nast Bridal Group — which includes Bride’s, Modern Bride and Your Prom, as well as 17 other regional bridal publications under the title Modern Bride Connection.
Lawrence said the high-end bridal market is one of the fastest growing niches in the bridal industry — evidenced by luxury brands such as Oscar de la Renta and Christian Dior launching bridal collections in the past year — and the event was originally created to go after this market.
As a result, Bride’s will run a special advertising section about the Wedding March inside its November/December issue, which also happens to be the magazine’s debut luxury-themed “Platinum Issue” featuring a Carolina Herrera dress on the cover. That section will be about 83 pages inside the magazine, but will also be distributed in Madison Avenue boutiques in a 100-page perfect-bound version, beginning with the Wedding March on Madison event.
According to the Condé Nast Bridal Group, wedding dresses generates $1.4 billion in annual retail sales, while the entire market — including mother-of-the-bride, bridal accessories, bridesmaids dresses and formalwear for men — totals approximately $5 billion.
Lawrence said Bride’s set out to charge $55,000 per spread in the special advertising section. Assuming Bride’s achieved that figure with the 41 spreads in the section, the magazine would stand to make about $2.2 million in revenue. However, that sum doesn’t take into account discounts for repeat advertisers or special offers, so the actual number could be quite less, though Bride’s would not disclose any figures.The magazine did say it planned to charge $15,000 per designer to take part in the Sunday runway presentation. At press time, runway participants included Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Nicole Miller, Ulla Maija, Monique Lhuillier, Badgley Mischka, Priscilla of Boston and Watters & Watters.
Described on the Wedding March’s Web site as the “undisputed High Priestess of wedding gowns,” Vera Wang is the Saturday evening keynote speaker at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Also, the original invitations sent out to consumers read: “You’re invited to have Vera Wang, Colin Cowie and our editors plan your wedding.”
Several high-end designers are not participating in the event, including Oscar de la Renta, Amsale and Reem Acra, the latter two with shops on or near Madison.
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