LS: Wedding business tied into the economic knot

Judy Panozzo rarely discounts her wedding gowns.

But through March 31, she offered a $99 Stimulus Sale at Victoria Rose, 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50. Brides could get $99 off any wedding dress at the store.

The sale was directly related to a slowdown in the local economy, said store owner Panozzo, who is not the only local business owner watching the economy.

Others tied to the wedding industry said they’ve seen slower business so far this year compared to previous years.

At the very least, business owners with a summer full of wedding appointments are curious to see if next summer is equally busy.

Many couples planning weddings begin making reservations for a photographer, a reception site, flowers or a music provider a year in advance of the big day.

“In talking to other vendors; I know business has slowed,” said Landon Balding, a local DJ.

“I think people are cutting back in the amount of money they are spending.”

Balding, a newlywed, owns Monumental Events. He is booked through this summer and will start booking for next summer in June. He won’t know until the end of the summer if business has definitively slowed.

Panozzo said bridal sales at Victoria Rose in the first months of 2009 were down compared to sales figures during the same months in 2008.

“Maybe it will change,” Panozzo said.

Crystal Garner, manager and wedding specialist at Johnson’s House of Flowers, had been in the floral business for 24 years. She is used to working with brides with varying budgets.

Brides often walk into her store expecting fresh flowers to cost at least $1,000 and are surprised to find they are less expensive.

The average cost of fresh flowers for the weddings she has worked on is $500, sometimes less, she said.

She sees brides trying to save money by cutting back on centerpieces and the types of flowers they select.

“People are getting really creative, which is great to see,” she said.

Roses and Gerbera daisies are cheaper than some lilies, Garner said.

Brides who want lilies are using fewer in bouquets to save money, she said.

“Everybody is coming in here with very low budgets,” she said. “I try to work with it.”


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