What’s new in the Vail Valley wedding business? | VailDaily.com

What’s new in the Vail Valley wedding business?

Scott N. MillerVail, CO, Colorado

The wedding business is big business in the Vail Valley. More than 100 wedding planners, DJs, florists, caterers and others got together recently at 4Eagle Ranch north of Wolcott to trade business cards and talk about the state of the I do business in 2009.The event, called the Weddings & More Sampler Showcase, was the brainchild of 4Eagle Ranch owners Tom and Tess Backhus.We wanted to showcase the ranch for people, Tess Backhus said. We do a lot of rehearsal dinners here, and we can dress up or dress down.Besides showing off the ranch, the event also featured a panel discussion led by several local wedding planners. People attending were able to submit questions for the panel along with their RSVPs.Given the state of the economy, a good number of questions were about budgets.The good news, at least so far, is that a lot of people still want fancy weddings.Local wedding planner Carolyn Moorman said her clients are spending an average of $50,000 or $75,000, and fellow planner Joanne Moore said her clients spend a bare minimum of $40,000.The trend toward big, splashy weddings has been rolling for a few years now. Moore looked up wedding statistics from Las Vegas for the last few years, and the numbers have been dropping steadily since 2004.Brides arent settling, Moore said. They still want their dream weddings.That trend is continuing this year. Moore said shes already working on 18 weddings for this year, and said the Donovan Pavilion in Vail is booked into 2010.What brides are looking for now, though, is more bang for their bucks.People want to see a lot of choices now, said Jessica Stevens, who books wedding groups for the Vail Valley Partnership. Those choices range from hotels to DJs to limo services.Denver-area wedding planner Tanya Porter said Vail remains a popular destination for her clients.Vails a friendly place, Porter said, Its close to Glenwood Springs, Breckenridge and Aspen, and its easy to get in and out. Theres a lot of nightlife and other things to do.And, Moore said, she knows people who take their vacations in Vail because they were married here or came to a wedding here. But, the planners said, people are looking to cut dimes and dollars out of their budgets.Being under budget is in these days, Moore said. Porter said some clients are cutting back on invitations or favors for the wedding party. Others are cutting back on food and flowers. And its hard to sell lighting in this economy, Moorman said.There are some things that dont get cut, though.But we dont cut back on photography, Porter said. In the end, thats all they have left.While couples are looking for better value, that doesnt necessarily mean wedding planners need to find cut-rate services. People are looking for just a little bit off, planner Meg Stepanek said. If you can give just a little bit, youll probably get their business.The bottom line, Stepanek said, is that people are still spending money on their weddings. Business is going down, but we can maintain, she said.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Heres a sample of Premiere Bride magazines top wedding trends for 2009: Smaller guest lists. More family and friends involved in planning and participating in weddings. Online RSVPs. Eco-theme weddings. Buffet or appetizer food instead of sit-down meals. Weddings during resort off seasons.

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