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Understanding Supply Chains in the Wedding Industry

Mar 31, 2017

If there’s anything that can be learned from reality television shows like Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings, or movies like The Wedding Planner (starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConoughey, and garnering an unjust rating of merely 16% on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s that all of the work that goes into organizing a wedding is stressful, expensive, and complicated—and that the wedding industry is extremely lucrative. In 2016, according to The Wedding Report, the average cost of a wedding in the US was over USD 26 thousand, and the wedding industry in the US saw sales totalling roughly USD 57 billion. Because of all of the different types of weddings and wedding products and services out there, supply chains for the wedding industry can be complicated and diverse. Here are a few points key to understanding how procurement and supply chains operate in this ever-growing industry:

  1. Wedding planners and wedding planning services must be able to connect with a multitude of different suppliers in different markets. Wedding planners are supposed to be a sort of one-stop shop for couples to decide on everything they need for their celebration, including bouquets, floral arrangements, centerpieces, cakes, event decorations, invitations…and pretty much anything else brides or grooms might have on their wedding checklist. Because of the complexity and costs associated with weddings, wedding planners must be sure that they have a solid understanding of the different markets they are working with. This will help them to make the right procurement decisions, to choose reliable and high-quality suppliers, and to negotiate prices.
  2. Wedding dresses account for some of the biggest sales in the wedding industry. The average amount spent on a wedding dress in the US is a little over USD 1,200, with wedding dress accessories (belts, veils, etc.) adding roughly USD 500 to that number, but an increasing number of brides are favouring dresses with heftier price tags. Alterations and customizations add to the cost even further. Visibility and communication across the supply chain is essential for wedding dress retailers. They must ensure that each step of the supply chain—from sourcing of raw materials, to fabric production, to dress construction, etc.—is operating efficiently and on time. Late shipments or damage caused during the distribution process due to improper packaging can do irreparable damage to a retailer’s reputation. The same goes for retailers of tuxedos, bridesmaids’ dresses, and other forms of wedding apparel: the on-time delivery of high-quality products through an efficient, highly organized supply chain and a sound sourcing and procurement strategy is essential for customer satisfaction and retention. David’s Bridal, one of the most prominent wedding dress retailers and manufacturers in North America, accomplishes the safe delivery of its wedding dresses by delivering them in bags, and then having them steamed, altered, and prepared at the stores where customers are to pick them up.

  1. The quality and availability of food and alcohol, as anyone who has been to a wedding with a cash bar can attest, is a key part of the wedding reception. Caterers and other suppliers of food for weddings can fall victim to typical procurement and supply chain challenges that affect the food and beverage industry, including those related to food safety and waste. Suppliers of wedding cakes—which come with an average cost of approximately USD 500—must be especially careful to make sure that their products adhere to the couple’s specifications, dietary restrictions, and allergy-related requirements. This involves making sure their production facilities, sourced ingredients, and methods are safe, free of contamination, and do not contain potential allergens or risks. They should also ensure that the suppliers they use for equipment and ingredients adhere to proper safety regulations and that they are transparent about their ingredients and business practices.

As Massimo said in The Wedding Planner, “Love can’t always be perfect. Love is just love.” Supply chains, however, can be perfect. The wedding industry is a fast-paced, quickly evolving one that sees new trends fade in and out every year. It involves a large number of different suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and categories, as well as significant diversity in the products and services it offers and the customers that it serves. Supply chain optimization for wedding planners, retailers, and other businesses involved in the industry is an absolute requirement for building a reputation and retaining and satisfying customers.

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