Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the changing face of luxury. Perhaps it’s weeks like the one that we just had that have let me appreciate life’s smaller luxuries (electricity, the right to vote and speak your mind), but in general, luxury today is less and less defined by gild and glitz and more and more about detail and design.
First things first: I used to think that there were two kinds of wedding businesses: those that operated on volume at low cost and those that were “Luxury” with a capital L. But, as we’ve seen a generation come of age in the “New” economy, for the bulk of Americans the simple choice to hold a wedding is, in and of itself a luxury. I used to joke with industry friends and say “Every wedding needs a photographer or an officiant, but only a fraction of the market needs a planner.” Until I opened my eyes and saw that more and more couples felt completely comfortable having a friend take their pics, or having a friend or relative perform their ceremony. So, regardless of if you work in a “high end” market or not, you operate a luxury business. The question then becomes: what kind of luxury are you selling?
Elle Decor has an amazing issue on stands now called (surprise, surprise) The Luxury Issue, with a Luxury Report surveying 400 designers on what is luxury today and what is “Old” luxury. I thought it provided a lot of insight that wedding professionals could take into account as you think about engaging with customers. Below are some quotes that, regardless of the price point you target or the market you serve, will help give you insight into NEW luxury and ways you can provide more of that to your clients.
On What’s Luxury Now:
“People think of luxury as something incredibly expensive. And luxury can be incredibly expensive. But being expensive does not make something luxurious.” –Robert Couturier
“Luxury is having marvelous friends and family, to live comfortably, and have everything work.” -Thomas Britt
“Luxury is more a state of mind than a state of pocketbook. It’s the confidence you have in being happy and content and without worries.”-Ann McDonald
And my personal favorite, and possible Mantra for our business:
“Luxury is discretion and ease—and, obviously, comfort.” -Juan Montoya
“Over the top usually means over.” -Paul J. Kairis
“Excessive doesn’t mean luxurious. If it is crystal-encrusted and fur-trimmed and leather-tufted to death . . . what’s that for? What’s the point?”-Alexa Hampton
On What Counts Now:
“Quality and restraint are underrated. Those are the things I fight for.” -Steven Volpe
“Bespoke anything, from furnishings to ice cubes!”– Dena Kareotes Arendt
“You do get what you pay for. What our parents knew as luxury was getting one good thing; it makes more sense now than getting 20 inferior things.” -Richard Mishaan
Like never before, what people consider Luxury is changing and evolving and, if you own a wedding related business, you should be thinking about what kind of luxury it is that you sell and embracing it fully. Perhaps the luxury is in the personal attention that you give to them, or the prepared proposal that seems bespoke to them. Or maybe it’s in your aesthetic and the couture designs you create for your client. Whatever it is, remember that now, more than ever, hiring a professional (at whatever price point you are) is a luxury choice for the client. The more you understand the nuances of today’s luxury, the better positioned you’ll be to excel!