January 27, 2010
/ by Katrina M Mendolera
Wedding magazines going local
As 2009 saw the number of national wedding magazines dwindle, newly engaged brides-to-be may fear that traditional bridal publications won’t be around to aid them on their planning journey. Indeed, in the course of a year major magazines like InStyle Wedding, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride folded.
While the loss of these publications can be partially blamed on the considerable changes the media has undergone in the course of a year, the current economic climate has also played a role in the scaling back of wedding magazines. “Anything that was not a basic survival need, like food or business information, took a hit,” said Rebecca Bredholt, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group. “So much of what national wedding magazines try to sell us is dream- or fantasy-level purchases and ideas. When so many people lose their job, they scale back from the rafters down to reality. Without the advertisers, there are no pages to put editorial content on.”
Meanwhile, bridal publications on the local level seem to be weathering the storm. According to the Vocus Media Database, there are a plethora of regional and local wedding magazines that appear to be doing well. “When I was at a Barnes and Noble in Manhattan, I couldn’t believe how many local wedding magazines speckled the rack,” Bredholt said.
Mary O’Regan, editor of Minnesota Bride, Wisconsin Bride and Arizona Bride, said in an e-mail interview that she believes regional wedding titles fare better because they provide localized information. “National magazines – and national bridal Web sites – have too much ground to cover and aren’t able to provide as much location-specific information as a regional magazine can,” she said. “Brides will pick up a national magazine when they want general planning tips, but when it comes to making actual decisions (such as where to hold their wedding and which vendors to hire) regional magazines are the best help.” Bredholt agreed with the sentiment. Since weddings happen on a local level, it makes more sense for local vendors to supply the local ad dollars and editorial content.
While national wedding magazines haven’t disappeared from circulation yet, O’Regan said that brides are increasingly going online to search for wedding information. “They can find wedding information for free, without leaving the house. It’s hard to compete with that,” she said.
Yet despite this, Shape Bride Magazine is set to debut next month with an annual publication. On average, wedding magazines publish twice a year while enagements often last about 14 months. “Most of those weddings take place in the spring or summer, so they are only targeting two groups, really. Publishing twice a year will give them at least three times to be seen by those brides. That might be the number of times each bride reads or buys a wedding magazine anyway,” Bredholt said. Meanwhile, two of the few national wedding magazines that still exist – The Wedding Knot and Condé Nast’s Brides Magazine – have actually increased publication frequency.
“I think bridal magazines will definitely be around 10 years from now, just because of the nature of the event,” The Knot CEO David Liu told the Associated Press. “Meeting their girlfriends at a café to show them photos of dresses; or curling up in bed with a magazine to go over honeymoon plans.” And no matter what the economic climate and media landscape, new couples will always be getting engaged and brides will always be in search of information to help aid them on planning that special day.
— Katrina M. Mendolera
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