Behind the Veil

Finding a Niche

"Unique" was in the plans of Joanna Dreifus and Ellen Horowitz when they founded BridesmaidAid.com in 2000. The idea was birthed out of the many experiences Dreifus, 29, and Horowitz, 28, had as bridesmaids. "We realized there were all these wedding Web sites and there were [virtually] no information sources for bridesmaids," says Dreifus. "And there are so many more bridesmaids [than brides]."

The pair created a Web site with advice for bridesmaids, a list of duties, suggestions for bachelorette parties, wedding city spotlights, links to wedding stores and a horror story section. Both full-time graduate students, the pair focused on generating content and building a user base. The business side--i.e., the money to be made from a site that gets over 10,000 hits daily--didn't come until recently. Now, says Dreifus, they're crafting a business plan to capitalize on the site and get revenues flowing. A segment on The Today Show and being picked as a Yahoo! site of the day have helped to generate exposure. "People want really specific information," says Dreifus. "[Wedding sites often] get caught up in the formal, flowery, syrupy side of things-[people] want specifics."

Read our Wedding Consultant Start-Up Kit for the lowdown on starting this business.

More couples are turning to the Web for wedding research and purchases, according to Lawrence. Other trends in weddings: People are marrying later in life, and wedding consultants are becoming more common among middle-class couples-not just a luxury for rich folk anymore.

Vincent S. Lipe, owner of Acquisitions Event Management Inc. in Seattle, happened upon another wedding trend: He plans weddings and commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples, in addition to traditional ceremonies. Finding most of his business through word-of-mouth, Lipe, 46, happened upon this opportunity at a millennium party he had put together for a client. "A number of the guests approached me and said, 'We understand you put this all together--do you do commitment ceremonies and same-sex wedding planning?'" recalls Lipe. "I hadn't done one, but planning a wedding is planning a wedding."

The best lesson to take away? Whatever type of wedding biz you want to commit to, serve customers the best way you know how. As entrepreneurs like Lipe can attest, referrals can make all the difference.

WALKING THE AISLE ONLINE

Here's a roundup of some cool wedding information sites-and just plain interesting wedding businesses-we found on the Net:

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This article was originally published in the February 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Behind the Veil.

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