Saturday, February 4, 2012

A growing wedding industry

One-day production generates year-round business, increased prices

Weddings have always been an important day in a young bride’s life, but as years have progressed, the stress and amount of work has extended to friends, family members, distant relatives, wedding planners, cake decorators, travel agents, bridesmaids, etc.

What was once a party that was planned a week or two in advance has turned into a yearround production, soliciting the help of numerous vendors and planners.

“Weddings and parties in themselves used to be thrown by socialites who had lots of time to dedicate to making the event a great party with little management the day of,” said Kathryn Blessington, event coordinator with Helping Hands Event Planning.

“Simultaneously, women were progressing in their social status and in their careers. From this, the event planning industry was able to open to a lot more. It became a career instead of just doing it for fun.”
Becoming more elaborate, weddings and events now require someone with experience in reviewing contracts, coordinating vendor arrival and set up, settling payments and overseeing the entire event.
“Now, people don’t want to rely on just relatives to take care of the details,” Blessington said. “Hiring someone who knows people in the industry in their neighborhood is important because the industry as a whole has grown simply because there is a lot of money to be made doing it from a florists and caterer to linens, tables and chairs.”

Celebrities and Hollywood have also contributed to a growing wedding industry, and more recently, reality television is propellingthe commerce further.

“‘Say Yes to the Dress’ is our dearest friend,” said Camille Limas, owner of Renee’s Bridal on Lohman Avenue, about the popular TV show. “It gives girls information before they come in and propels the idea of having a bigger wedding. The media can be very powerful.”

Though wedding gowns are getting simpler, Limas said prices are increasing, including shipping.
“The 10 percent increase in cotton caused dress prices to go up,” Limas said. “Since manyof the dresses are made in China, and Chinese labor is also getting paid more, prices also had to adjust.”
Limas said the average cost of a wedding dress is about $800 to $900.

“I’ve heard on the news, people say fewer couples are getting married,” she said. “Talk shows say up to 70 percent of couples living together are not married. I just can’t believe that because my business has increased every year.” “There is a constant flux of clients from the wedding industry because people will always continue to get married,” Blessington said. “Even in a low economy, people still get married. During a good economy, people spend more money, but it’s still a big celebration on that one special day. It’s one moment to rememberforever.” Blessington said weddings today also involve a budget with a lot more detail.
“When people are creating a budget, they think of the main things, such as catering, but it has become so much more than that,” she said. “Now, it’s the cost per plate based on the caterer, catering décor, alcohol, servers, stocking a bar, the time frame the space can be rented and how long the waiters can work. And that is just one portion.”

Cynthia Morales, business manager of Santa Fe Grill Catering Co., said the average price people are paying for a wedding reception meal in Las Cruces is about $13.95 per plate.

“That could include a brisket, beef or chicken milanesa with sides such as potatoes, garlic pecan rice, calabacitas and corn, salad and rolls,” she said.

Morales said 2012 has gotten off to a quiet start, however, many people tend to book their caterings a little late.

“We are ready and available to cater to them, even at the last minute,” she said. “Business is growing because a lot of people find they can save money by going through a caterer. Plus, when it comes down to it, they are so busy on the wedding day, and there is chaos everywhere. I think people are realizing it can be more stressful and out-of-control. It’s best to let a caterer handle all that stress because we know what we are doing and how to make it run smoothly.

“I think people are learning and accepting the concept of letting an event being catered, even though the Hispanic community has historicallydone otherwise.” Recently, Morales said she has seen an increased demand in extra desserts.

“We are getting requests for chocolatedipped strawberries and New York cheesecake,” she said. “They are still doing a wedding cake, however, adding more desserts has become a trend.”

Stephanie Baumann, owner of Let Them Eat Cake, said 60 to 70 percent of her business is wedding cakes, but that number has decreased over the last two or three years as more people get specialty cakes for birthdays and other events.

Like Limas, Baumann attributes growth in the industry to reality television.
“All of the cake shows on television give people ideas for cakes,” she said. “(The programs) show them that there’s a lot of creativity that can go into them; they don’t all have to be tiered white cakes.”

Pricing for a wedding cake can vary, depending on the number of people it serves and the type of decoration it has, but Baumann said it’s around $7 per serving.

According to Blessington, an average wedding in Las Cruces costs about $15,000, “that is including the dress and up,” she said. “That budget is a lot more realistic than people think.”

The average size of a wedding, according to Blessington, is anywhere from 100 to 150 people, however, she said Las Cruces weddings tend to be closer to 300 people.

“A large wedding is a cultural thing,” she said. “Everywhere is a little different. Typically, a wedding in New Mexico is a cultural event.”

With an average budget and larger-thanaverage guest list, Blessington said wedding planners have to be resourceful.

“In an ideal scenario, the bride and groom should be able to hire a planner, and for the money they pay, save money in the long run because of their relationships with vendors,” she said. “The planner should have a relationship to get a better deal, it’s like a travel agent, saving money as a whole and getting an added service.”

With rising wedding costs and added work preparing for the big event, the bride and groom might owe a few people a big “thank you” for their time and effort.
Allison Gayle Photography photo

Throughout the years, catering has become an elaborate part of wedding receptions.
Allison Gayle Photography photo


By Samantha Roberts
Las Cruces Bulletin

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