Monday, April 13, 2009

Why a Good Event Planner is Such a Necessity....

This Bloomberg article was sent by a client today regarding how the economy has effected the $60 billion dollar wedding business in treacherous ways. Brides are showing up to venues that are closed without notice and excitingly waiting for their wedding day photographs that don't exist. This article underlines why it is so crucial to hire a good wedding planner that understands the industry and liabilities that come along with it. From negotiating mutual protection in contracts to hiring vendors with both accountability and sustainability, these needs are almost more important then the magic of the day.

Brides Kiss Dream Weddings Goodbye as Recession Shuts Vendors
2009-04-13 04:01:00.9 GMT

By Alexis Leondis and Elizabeth Hester
April 13 (Bloomberg) -- Connie Banks was planning a
“bride’s dream” at Tuscany of Garden Oaks, a Houston banquet
hall with ceilings painted to resemble the Sistine Chapel. Then
the hall’s owner filed for bankruptcy.
Banks, whose family paid $22,000 for the space and catering,
was suddenly left with no place to put the 250 people on her
wedding list.
“I still feel guilty my parents lost all that money,”
said Banks, a 24-year-old teacher who found a new venue at the
additional cost of having to change the date to a Friday from a
Saturday this June. “I also feel guilty guests will have to
take more time off from work to attend a Friday wedding.”
The $60 billion-a-year U.S. wedding industry is contracting
along with the rest of the economy, said Millie Martini Bratten,
editor-in-chief of Conde Nast’s Brides magazine in New York.
Couples are scaling back on champagne and chocolate fountains,
and business failures by florists and caterers are forcing
changes in plans.
“People don’t time when they fall in love with the
economic cycles,” Martini Bratten said. “But when times are
tight, we do see a pull-back in spending.”
The average cost of tying the knot in the U.S. fell 24
percent last year from 2007, to $21,814, and slipped in the
first quarter to $19,196, according to Tucson, Arizona-based
Wedding Report, a research firm.
The number of vows exchanged will probably drop this year
because every economic contraction since 1945 has been followed
by a decline in weddings, said Shane McMurray, the firm’s chief
executive officer. He said there were 100,000 fewer in 2002 than
2001, when the U.S. was in a recession for eight months.

Cocktail Parties

The economy has shed about 5.1 million jobs since December
2007, the most in a post-World War II slump, according to the
Labor Department. The U.S. jobless rate is 8.5 percent, the
highest since 1983.
Wedding industry unemployment can’t be calculated because
photographers, dress makers and others usually don’t limit their
work to one kind of event, McMurray said.
“Ninety percent of wedding vendors are small businesses,
so these folks are obviously struggling,” he said.
In Manhattan, couples are downsizing by opting for cocktail
parties instead of sit-down dinners, said Amy Aversa, owner of
Sweet Basil Catering in New York.
“It’s definitely forcing caterers to get more creative,”
said Aversa, who estimates her average client is spending 30
percent less this year.

$2,200 More

To trim the budget for a September reception, Aversa said
she’s using fewer fresh flowers in centerpieces and filling
empty spaces with candles and photographs. She’s also getting
more requests for cupcakes rather than multilayered bridal cakes.
For Margarita Lambos in Charlotte, North Carolina, the cost
of the shrinking economy was $6,200.
Lambos paid cash in advance when she ordered a $4,000
Swarovski crystal-embellished Ines Di Santo gown for her walk
down the aisle. Then the recession claimed another victim: the
bridal boutique that had her money and her dress.
“Their bankruptcy almost ruined my wedding,” said Lambos,
a 26-year-old stay-at-home mother. After La Bella Sposa closed
in June, Lambos said she contacted the designer’s Toronto studio
and, parting with $2,200 more, was married in August in her
“dream dress.”
Lambos said she decided not to bother signing up as a
creditor in the La Bella Sposa bankruptcy.

Second Choice

The bridal store couldn’t survive a pullback in
discretionary spending, said Rick Mitchell, the owners’
bankruptcy lawyer.
“People don’t necessarily need an $8,000 wedding gown to
get married,” Mitchell said.
In Houston, after Tuscany of Garden Oaks closed and owner
Titus Inc. filed for bankruptcy, Banks reserved her second-
choice wedding location, Chateau Polonez. She said she thinks
her situation “turned out on the better end” of the spectrum.
Minute Maid Park, home of baseball’s Houston Astros, was
the site of weddings for 33 other brides left without reception
spaces by Titus, which also owned Bella Terraza, another venue
that shut down. Chef and television personality Rachel Ray threw
them a mass ceremony and party for 500 friends in November and
aired the event on her syndicated show.
Leonard Simon, a lawyer for Titus’s owner, Carolyn James,
declined to comment.
The recession hadn’t begun when Laura McCormick, a stay-at-
home mother in Middle Township, New Jersey, posed for pictures
with her wedding party in March 2007. McCormick, 28, said she
paid Celebrations Studios $4,000 and still doesn’t have a
professional photograph of the event.

The Culprit

“We ended up with pretty much nothing,” McCormick said.
Celebration Studios, based in Chester, New Jersey, was low
on cash as business started to slow and couldn’t pay
photographers who took pictures around the time of the McCormick
wedding, said Jeffrey Herrmann, Celebration Studio’s attorney.
Some workers who hadn’t been paid kept their images, he said.
The company closed in January 2008 and was sued that month
by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, which accused
Celebration Studios of violating state consumer fraud law by
taking deposits when it knew it wouldn’t be able to perform the
services. Under a court order, the agency is distributing photos,
negatives and video footage to customers, according to Jeff Lamm,
a spokesman for the consumer division.
Celebration Studios didn’t intend to deceive clients,
Herrmann said.
“The culprit in this was the recession,” he said.

Celebratory Wedding Mood

Katharine Atkinson, a 29-year-old grant writer in Portland,
Oregon, has mailed save-the-date cards for her August wedding at
the Portland Classical Chinese Garden. Because her father, a
home-builder, hasn’t made a sale in eight months and her mother
and stepfather lost their jobs, she said, she’s concerned about
what she’ll be spending.
“It feels uncomfortable for me to be in a celebratory
wedding mood,” she said in an e-mail. “It didn’t take long for
the glow of being newly engaged to wear off.”

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