Want to cash in on the growing wedding industry? Here are 43 ways you could get involved.
From Popping the Question to Picking the Gown
Plan the perfect proposal. Many grooms are looking for a memorable way to get down on one knee. By acting as their advisor, ego-booster and source of inspiration, your goal is to create the most romantic, personalized proposal. You can get as creative as their budget allows, including proposing in a hot-air balloon or at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Sell conflict-free diamond engagement rings. Once grooms-to-be have the proposal planned, the ring education process begins. And they're doing their research. Many brides and grooms are becoming more interested in conflict-free diamonds. There currently aren't many diamond retailers who offer them exclusively, so you might be able to fill this niche before it's saturated.
Write a bridal planning guide. It's definitely been done before; just peruse the aisles of your local bookstore, and you'll find a plethora of wedding advice and planning books. But brides are always searching for ways to save money or differentiate their weddings from others, so if you can bring something new to the genre, go for it.
Create invitations and save-the-date cards. The first impression of any wedding is made when the save-the-date card arrives in the mailbox. Then, the invitation indicates the theme and overall feel of the celebration. For this business, you should have some graphic experience and access to a professional printer.
Become a wedding calligrapher. Once you master the art of calligraphy, this business doesn't have much overhead. Though some brides have their envelopes printed, calligraphy is still the traditional way of addressing wedding invitations. Services include personalizing the inner and outer envelopes of the invitation, as well as place cards, menus and programs. The going rate for a handwritten invitation set is about $4.
Manage bridal registries. According to the experts at WeddingChannel, people spend between $3 billion and $5 billion each year on bridal registries. A majority of that money is spent at department store chains like Macy's, but what about smaller stores? Give smaller retailers a national online presence for their bridal registry offerings by including them on your website. This service also allows brides to find everything they need in one spot.
Become a wedding planner. Bridal consulting is also big business. Companies like eLearners.com offer online bridal consultant programs, so you can become certified from home. Then, a company like WedAlert.com can help you by matching engaged couples with local wedding professionals.
Start a marriage preparation course. Couples may think love is all they need. But a marriage preparation course is invaluable to couples before they take the next big step. If you and your partner have a loving, long-lasting relationship and are willing to share your triumphs and tragedies, this business could end up making a difference in countless marriages.
Offer bridal boot camp. From the moment a bride-to-be puts the ring on her finger, she's probably already thinking about how she's going to fit into the perfect dress. That's where you come in. By offering fitness training and dietary advice, you can fill a growing niche of the wedding industry. Other popular aesthetic treatments include teeth whitening, cellulite-reduction therapy and hair removal.
Give private dance lessons. When it comes to dancing, people tend to either love it or hate it. For engaged couples in the "hate it" category, private dance lessons could help create a simple, yet elegant first dance. You can even offer classes for the entire wedding party, so they'll be ready to hit the dance floor on the big day.
Organize on-location spa parties. As the wedding day approaches, brides and their bridesmaids are in need of some R&R. So why not bring the spa to them? Provide massages, pedicures and manicures, but don't forget the mimosas. Along the same lines, "passion parties" are also a popular "girl's night in" event in lieu of a bachelorette party.
Become a wedding apparel retailer. Roney estimates brides spend an average of $2,000 on their bridal gown. But she points out that today's brides are moving away from traditional gowns and looking for something more sophisticated with a touch of color. Some brides are also splurging on a second wedding dress. Typically, they'll go for a more formal look for the ceremony, then change into a sexier version for the reception. So far, there aren't many retailers specializing in the latter dress style, so this is an area you could tap into.
Create pet wedding apparel. Don't forget the pets. Pet boutiques can stake their claim in the wedding industry as pet wedding experts. With more and more Americans choosing to include pets in their wedding celebrations, it's a growing market. The wedding ceremonies of celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Tori Spelling and Adam Sandler all featured their canines.
Design bridal jewelry and accessories. Once they've found the perfect dress, brides want to accessorize with the perfect tiara, veil, necklace, earrings, purse and shoes. An online site offering all of the above would be a nice one-stop shop. Or, if making necklaces and earrings is your forte, focus on that. You can also ask local bridal shops to display your jewelry at trunk shows.
Get creative with bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts. When rehearsal night comes around, it's time for brides and grooms to say thank you to their bridal party. But what do they give them? Typically, brides and grooms want to personalize gifts based on a person's personality and hobbies. By specializing in finding individualized gifts, you could save the engaged couple a lot of time and energy.
Wedding Day Businesses
The Big Day
Become a wedding minister. Thanks to the destination wedding trend, this role is becoming more prominent. Also, as more interfaith marriages take place, non-denominational ministers are the obvious choice. If you're willing to travel, enjoy public speaking and have a knack for story-telling, this could be the fit for you.
Photograph engagements and weddings. Brides and grooms consider the photographer one of the most important vendors since they capture the day's special moments. Most photographers offer different packages depending on a couple's budget. A deluxe package might include an engagement session, bridal portraits, two photographers for the wedding day, a sign-in book with engagement images and a wedding album. Some couples prefer to choose services a la carte.
Offer videography services. Some couples want more than just photographs to remember their wedding by. They want actual video footage of all the action they might have missed, from early-morning preparations until the last guest leaves the dance floor. As a wedding videographer, you can also offer packages that include a slideshow of the bride's and groom's childhood pictures set to music.
Become a wedding DJ. The wedding DJ can make or break the event. If you have a lot of energy, knack for detail, love for music and personality, this could be the perfect role for you. Some DJs also serve as the wedding planner. By learning both trades, you can make yourself more valuable to your clients.
Start a wedding band. Couples with bigger budgets are springing for both a DJ and a band and having them alternate during the reception. For instance, they may want their first dance song to be played live, but prefer a DJ later in the evening for a nightclub atmosphere. Or some may stick with the live band all night. Create a CD of your band's best jams and send it to wedding planners in your area.
Become a wedding florist. A good way to get your start as a wedding florist is to provide your services for a friend or relative's wedding at cost. Be sure to take pictures to help build your portfolio. Services usually include a bouquet for the bride and bridesmaids, corsages for the mothers and boutonnieres for all the gentlemen in the bridal party. Couples typically request two arrangements for the ceremony site and some simple flowers on the sides of the aisle. At the reception, florists can make a statement with beautiful centerpieces, arrangements on cocktail tables and petals on the cake and cake table.
Bake creative cakes. Picking out the cake is one of the highlights for most engaged couples, especially grooms. Once couples arrange a tasting with you, it's important to find out their likes and dislikes so you know what types of samples to serve them. From there, you can get as creative as you like. Many brides opt for a groom's cake, usually a smaller version featuring the groom's interest or hobby. Companies also are renting fake cakes to couples wanting to save money. Don't worry; couples still get to cut the cake. The rental company leaves a spot for a slice of real cake for the bride and groom, and guests are served an inexpensive sheet cake.
Design cake toppers. Roney says the days of traditional wedding images, like bells and doves, are fleeting. That means the traditional bride and groom cake toppers are also on their way out. Alternatives range from the couple's initials or wedding monogram to themed pieces that reflect their personal style.
Serve delicious cuisine. How many times have you left a wedding hungry? To avoid the bad wedding food clichÃ©, brides and grooms are spending more time sampling caterers' offerings before committing. And they're having more fun with the menu. For a beachside wedding, engaged couples may choose to serve s'mores, while playful brides and grooms might offer ice-cream sundaes or miniature cheeseburgers for hors d'oeuvres.
Rent specialty linens. Gone are the days of drab hotel linens. Instead, brides are choosing colorful linens to add to the mood. From dramatic underlays to shimmering overlays and fancy napkins, linens are now being used to carry out the theme of the wedding.
Rent chair covers or chiavari chairs. This option typically falls under the "If we have the budget for it" category for most engaged couples. Covers are the most common way to give a chair some spunk. Chiavari chairs are an option for more formal weddings. They come in various colors, including gold, brown, silver and white. Most companies charge for delivery, room set-up and pick-up the following day.
Make ice sculpture masterpieces. Ice sculptures make a dramatic addition to any reception. Whether placed near the front entrance with the couple's monogram, in the corner as a cake stand or by the bar as a drink luge, ice sculptures can take any shape. This is also a business that can be incorporated into other types of celebrations and corporate events.
Provide furniture rentals. Furniture rental companies are giving some receptions a lounge-like feel by providing couches and other unusual plush seats set in designated areas. Some couples are also springing for an after-party--a chance for the bridal party and family to unwind and make sure the night lasts as long as possible.
More Great Ideas
Create unique bridal garters. Today's brides want personalized garters that will impress their beaus. Try making garters with college colors and insignias, sports themes and traditional designs for the hopeless romantics.
Specialize in bridal hair or make-up. This is a business that relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations. Often, brides will ask these vendors to come directly to their bridal suite or wherever they're prepping for the big day. When hair and make-up artists work as a team, it can simplify the decision for the bride and create a referral service for both vendors.
Rent classy portable toilets. For destination or outdoor weddings, portable toilets are the way to go. The classy loos usually feature cabinetry, marbled sinks, rugs and a black-tie attendant. Companies typically charge about $3,500 for an eight-hour rental.
Provide lighting to set the mood. Lighting can make a big difference in a room. When done effectively, it can transform a mundane ballroom into a winter wonderland or an undersea paradise. It's best to pair with a venue so that clients will be more inclined to use you. In many cases, if you have an agreement with the venue, couples will be charged an additional fee if they use a different provider.
Become a day-of coordinator. A day-of coordinator differs from an actual wedding planner in that their sole responsibility is making sure the wedding day is free of disasters. This is the perfect option for a bride wanting control of her wedding, but who can't do everything on her actual wedding day by herself. Day-of coordinators typically meet with couples a month or so before their big day to catch up on plans and get vendor lists. Wedding planners can also offer day-of coordinating as an additional service.
Sell disposable cameras. Of course the photographer will capture the major moments, but placing disposable cameras on tables creates fun, impromptu photo opportunities. It's also a great way for brides and grooms to see guests they may miss throughout the hectic day. You can differentiate your cameras with special designs and personalization sure to catch the attention of the meticulous bride or groom.
Paint wedding reception portraits. This is a relatively new trend brides and grooms are starting to request. And it's no surprise. Roney points out that today's weddings are about personalization; and what's more personal than a painting of the reception, done by an artist who was there while it happened? It's also a nice feature for guests, who'll enjoy taking a peak as you create your masterpiece.
Design personalized favors. Brides and grooms are growing tired of typical favors and instead are looking for unique items that go along with their wedding theme. For instance, Roney says favors involving the beach are hot right now. Some couples are choosing to forgo a favor altogether and are instead donating money to a charity. In that case, you could design an elegant card to display at each place setting explaining where the donation is going.
Manage wedding transportation. You can turn a love for cars into a wedding business by renting limousines, party buses, classic cars or even motorcycles to couples looking to make a grand entrance. Most companies charge by the hour and offer extras like special lighting, music and drinks.
Rent photo booths. This trend has caught on over the past few years, and it's just as much fun for wedding guests as it is for the bride and groom. The newlyweds can get some great black-and-white snapshots inside the booth and then open it up to guests. Guests can choose their favorite image, cut it out and paste it into the sign-in album, and take their remaining pictures home.
Sell wedding insurance. Since couples are spending more money on their wedding day, they're also risking a lot more should a natural disaster ruin their plans. Wedding insurance typically protects against bad weather, death or an illness that forces a cancellation. For $25,000 worth of coverage, brides and grooms typically pay around $300.
Create personalized bottles of water. Bottled water with personalized labels, often featuring a picture of the couple, their wedding date and a short thank you note, are making their way to the exit of many receptions.
Become a honeymoon planner. According to The Knot, the average honeymoon budget is $4,200. That means some couples are taking shorter, simpler trips, while others are choosing exotic, luxurious destinations. Either way, your role as a travel agent and honeymoon planner is to find options that fit into their budget while still meeting the criteria on their wish list. If a couple loves golf, schedule a tee time for them. Special white-glove touches will help you stand out from traditional travel agencies.
Make honeymoon kits. With the hectic pre-wedding schedule, most engaged couples don't start thinking about what to pack on the honeymoon until a few days before the wedding, making it likely they'll forget something. Create fun honeymoon baskets based on popular destinations like Hawaii or Tahiti. For example, for Hawaii, you could include reef shoes for scuba-diving, sunscreen, after-sun lotion, beach cover-ups and flip-flops. These make great shower gifts and save the couple time and money.
Design bride and groom T-shirts and hats. If you can't tell a newlywed couple by the way they look at each other, these shirts and hats will confirm they're recently hitched. Featuring words like "bride," "groom," "newlywed," "Mrs. Smith" and "Mr. Smith," they're a fun way for a couple to show off their new marital status.
For more information and a list of businesses by category, return to the complete wedding feature.