Unfortunately for fairy tales, for a corporate type glowing brides and tuxedoed grooms sometimes pale in comparison to the vivid patterns of industries. As I see it, the wedding blog business is in its early stages, but still shows some classic industry structures. As my experience is in software, that’s the parallel I draw. As follows. You have the integrated systems houses, in the Martha Stewart/Brides/The Knot triumvirate. I think of them as IBM/Sun/Hewlett Packard. In their cases the blog was not the original offering and their primary revenue stream may still come from the ‘hardware”, the website/print vehicles. In the “started-with-blog”, or “software only” segment, we have what I see as the market leaders with broad and broadening offerings,Weddingbee and Style Me Pretty, with several challengers including Southern Weddings, Elizabeth Anne Designs, etc. Weddingbee and SMP might be, let’s say, Oracle and Microsoft, with Southern Weddings and EAD as McAfee or Symantec challenging. I assume that we will see the usual disaggregation and re-aggregation common to industries in this stage, and eventually some combination of website/blog will become the ultimate industry leader. The 800-lb gorilla as we call it here in Silicon Valley. Not very romantic, but there you go. I am damaged by so many years in business and I make my apologies in advance.
As is common in other early stage industries, you also see the single product leaders, similar to the company building only image creation software, but the absolute best image creation software, so even though they come to market narrowly they are successful. In this category I would put Snippet & Ink, where Kathryn (thanks Meg, I am old Father William I am old, and forgetful) puts out the most beautiful collages (known as inspiration boards in industry jargon) centered around various wedding modes, again and again and again.
Next you have the independent contractors, the supply chain to the wedding blog industry. Wedding vendors and brides are in fact the supply chain to the wedding blog industry. Not to take away from the romance… What I have found is that the big vendors, wedding planners, photographers and florist being the primary generators of a large inventory of images, tend to show up often enough on the market leader blogs that I don’t have to read their blogs separately. So I read the vendors who’s particular approach I enjoy. This would include, in my case, Weddings Fresh, Bride Chic, In the Now, Lyndsey Hamilton Events, and Sasha Souza Events. Oh wait, the last one I read for her cocktails. Oops. And Saipua, because I wish Sarah would let me be her mother so she could say funny things to me all the time. Except I guess she’d be more apt to roll her eyes if the current data set is any reflection of future probability.
In this vendor segment, we see some classic industry patterns, i.e. smaller companies setting up alliances to broaden their offerings, rather than acquiring, merging, or simply accelerating product development. For example, Dani at Weddings Fresh has Amy Jo from Bride Chic doing a Gown Friday on her site. Perfect example of how a squadron of partners can operate in a world of big guns. (Can you BELIEVE I can use these terms with a straight face?)
Finally, the brides. With their own blogs. Ah. My favorites. They in fact deserve their own post. Because, after all, they are people, rather than mere players in an industry, strutting and fretting their hour upon a stage.