They say every cloud has a silver lining and, in the case of cancelled weddings, that silver lining can be ensuring someone else enjoys your big day.
One enterprising American university student has come up with an idea to help cash-strapped couples wed while reducing some of the financial sting that often results from a cancelled wedding.
Bridal Brokerage purchases cancelled weddings and then re-sells them to couples looking for to save money on their wedding day.
The site was started in May 2012 by “professional bridesmaid” and business student Lauren Byrne after a conversation with a friend who lost money on clothes, a hotel room and a plane ticket when the wedding she’d planned to attend was cancelled.
The savvy business student, who has participated in at least 17 weddings herself, immediately saw an opportunity.
“We started talking about how great it would be if another friend who was also getting married at the time could just use her [friend’s] wedding,” Lauren told Gigaom.com.
And with that, Bridal Brokerage was born.
“It’s interesting because the initial feedback we got was that people wouldn’t want to buy someone else’s wedding,” she added. “But that’s not the case.”
In the six or so months the site has been running, Lauren has had at least 100 couples sign up to the site. It’s only a fraction of the 250,000 weddings that are cancelled in the US each year, but it’s growing every day.
Couples can sign up to sell their entire wedding day, lock, stock and barrel.
Their cancelled wedding is then registered on the site and the final costs to buy that wedding will depend on how far before the big day a new couple purchases the event. That way, the couple whose wedding has been cancelled doesn’t lose out on the often hefty (and non-refundable) deposits they’ve already paid (often up to 50% of the final price) and another couple can buy their old wedding for considerably less than if they’d organised that same wedding. Of course, they need to agree to marry on the same dates and at the same venues but the savings to them are often worth the compromise.
Lauren says new couples can save between 1/3 and 1/4 on the overall cost of their big day via the site and, with a typical Australian wedding costing $36,700, Bridal Brokerage offers the potential for significant savings (though they’re only servicing the US at the moment).
Buyers, on the other hand, can register with the site and indicate factors such as when and where they wish to wed as well as how many guests they will be inviting. All this information is stored in a database and, when a matching cancelled wedding is registered, the buyers are alerted.
Lauren says that though the site is growing, it offers the potential for anyone to buy and sell any cancelled event, from a wedding to a massive birthday bash.
And buying someone else’s wedding doesn’t always mean you’re locked into their big day or their style. Since things such as flowers or cakes and even the reception menu are always made-up closer to the wedding date, they can often easily be changed to suite the buyers’ requirements.
While Lauren’s business idea is proving to fulfil a need, she says she also hopes it alleviates some of the heartache that comes with a cancelled wedding.
“I have a friend who got married and who then got divorced three years later,” she told Gigaom. “I was talking with that friend who said, ‘If I had thought my parents could have gotten some of their money back, I might have called it off.’”