Lately, I’ve become addicted to watching YouTube videos.
   I use the site for nearly everything, from learning new skills, to keeping up with important topics, to gaining insight into others’ mindsets, or simply entertaining myself. In the past few months, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started watching a video on a topic intending to spend 10 minutes, then fallen down the binge-watching rabbit hole of consuming hours upon hours of content.


Unlike most issues, which feature feedback and quotes from dozens of boutiques around the nation, this issue concentrates on another primary source: facts, figures and research compiled from a variety of reputable sources like the U.S. Census Bureau, Pew Research Center and The Wedding Report.
   Our goal of our feature “Weddings and Brides, Today and Tomorrow” (pg. 32 of our Sep/Oct 2023 issue) is two-fold: paint a comprehensive picture of what brides and weddings currently look like, and analyze that information to draw conclusions about where these demographics might be headed in the future.
   Of course, nothing can be predicted with certainly, but by following patterns it’s easy to discern a few key themes:

1. A dip in the number of future weddings is likely. This is both due to population decline in the key marrying age demographic and also shifting attitudes toward marriage as an institution. The silver lining, however, is the decline isn’t expected to be dramatic, and saying “I do” remains a top priority for most.

2. Rising costs/age of first-time brides may help offset said drop. The average price of a wedding and related items continues trending upward. Combine this fact with older brides (the average age of saying I do also keeps rising) and you’ll likely see more financially stable, decisive and easier-to-work with customers who are willing to shell out the money it takes to get exactly what they want.

3. The gown remains well-positioned as a top priority. And, despite said challenges, brides still want their dream gowns! In fact, research shows it’s among the top areas where they’re willing to splurge, even as they cut back on other wedding things (venue, food/drink and photographer are the others). This is good news for boutiques, as you provide one of the most desirable items!

   What is the bottom line? Check out the article for a detailed analysis but, in a nutshell, with fewer projected customers, it’s imperative to become a master of winning over the brides you do have in order to excel in the future. A strong and ongoing hospitality training program for stylists will be essential, as first impressions are deep and lasting and the treatment a bride receives throughout her experience at your boutique will determine whether she says “Yes” to the dress. Make her experience so amazing she won’t want to go elsewhere. And get creative about other ways you can expand your business and profitability as well.
   If you’re looking for an inspirational story about a boutique that has been thriving continuously for five-plus decades by doing just that, check out this issue’s VOWS profile of The Ultimate (pg. 70 of our Sep/Oct 2023 issue). I had the honor of speaking extensively to co-owners Heather Siegel and Fawn Merlino, who make an amazing team. Changing with the times is absolutely the main secret to their success, and it’s fun reading about all the successful transformations their business has made throughout its 54+ years.
   Change can be scary, but it can also lead to some of the most amazing and successful outcomes. So embrace the future with an open mind and eager heart. We can’t wait to see where it takes you!