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“The gap was date-specific wedding deals.”

Entrepreneur Anita Malik

Inspired by her own ten-week engagement, Anita Malik founded BrideRush to help other brides in a rush make their wedding day as memorable and amazing as hers was.

BrideRush is a novel entry into the deal space. They are changing the model to make it work for the wedding industry and the growing trend in short engagements and busy brides.  BrideRush offers last-minute, date-specific wedding deals on venues and vendors around the country. They call themselves the Hotwire or Priceline of weddings.


MO: How did your experience of planning a wedding shape the vision and direction of BrideRush? I am also curious how your own wedding turned out with only 10 weeks to plan. Where did the wedding take place and how challenging was it to find photographers, caterers, florists and a dress?

Anita: The idea of BrideRush was born entirely from my own wedding planning experience. Due to family member schedules, we had a limited time to plan, and in our hurry, I realized there wasn’t a resource out there for last-minute, fast wedding planning. No one was offering advice, speaking of the rewards of shorter engagements and, most significantly, no one was helping brides find vendors quickly and for less.

There is a misconception that you can’t plan a wedding quickly and get everything you want. That simply isn’t true. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my big day or the planning process. By taking it in stride and staying organized, it was much more manageable than people make it out to be.

The key to fast planning is flexibility. We learned early on in our planning process that wedding vendors and venues, just like other businesses, often have open inventory or dates. If these dates are fast-approaching, we can usually negotiate a discount.

With short engagements on the rise and with women busier now than ever, leaving them little time to plan a wedding no matter how long the engagement, my husband and I realized a new perspective on wedding planning was long overdue.

MO: How does BrideRush work? What are some of your favorite features of the site?

Anita: The site is very user-friendly and to the point, which I love. As a bride, you simply search on your wedding date and/or location to view deals specific to your date and your needs. The bride can then review the deal details, ask questions and/or request her date if not listed.

It costs just $25 to secure any deal date on BrideRush. Once a date is secured, the bride receives a voucher entitling her to the deal as listed on her selected date. She then contacts the vendor or venue to get the details of the perfect day going.

A few things I love about the site:

The Rush – this is our blog focused on fast-planning tips and ideas. We really enjoy helping brides realize they can have an affordable wedding without drama.

Lola – Lola is our mascot, so to speak. This koala on skates and in a wedding dress is the head BargainZilla and she is on the site in various places offering help and suggestions. We try to keep things fun, and Lola is great example of this.

The Deal Dates – No other operation focuses on the wedding date like we do. This is essentially the most important piece of our site because it is what makes the deal model work for weddings. Weddings are date-specific and everything hinges on that date. So we work hard to keep deal dates listed and refreshed regularly.

MO: Can you talk about the process of putting together a network of vendors and venues all around the country?

Anita: The process for us is quite tedious, but we prefer it that way because we want our brides to have access to truly exclusive deals from highly-rated vendors and venues everywhere.

We take applications, which come in from our marketing efforts, and we also approach potential vendors and venues. We screen all possible vendors and work with them to make sure their needs are met and their final listing best represents their business.

In order to get onto our site a vendor will either need to be invited by one of our account reps, or fill out the vendor application at http://blooming.briderush.com to be considered.

MO: This isn’t your first entrepreneurial venture. You were the founder and editor of national, niche magazine East West. Due to the economy and the publishing world in general, the magazine shut down in late 2009. How did you find the confidence to brave starting another company? What lessons did you learn the first time around that you’ve been able to apply to developing the BrideRush brand?

Anita: East West was a great product, but in many ways, the subject matter was too ahead of its time in that it didn’t connect for national marketers. At the time, they didn’t understand the multicultural market as well as we needed them to. This was a lesson in customer base and market trends, two things I pay very close attention to now with BrideRush.

I learned you have to fill a gap that people already know exists. In this case, the gap was date-specific wedding deals. Both sides of the coin have been clamoring for something like this and so we delivered.

In business, connections and your network are also critical, and the East West experience afforded me a strong network, which has been helpful in everything from the conceptualization, delivery and marketing of the BrideRush brand.

MO: One of the main challenges you face is separating BrideRush from the well-known daily-deal model. What is your strategy for educating your vendors and customers and making sure that their initial perception of BrideRush is accurate?

Anita: That’s right, we are NOT a daily-deal or mass buying platform and getting that message out and changing consumer and vendors’ initial perception is key.

Unlike Groupon’s recent foray into “wedding deals” or the many other wedding daily-deal sites, brides coming to our site know instantly if the deal is available for their date. They don’t have to do research on their own or risk purchasing the deal only to find out it won’t work for their wedding date.

Furthermore, our vendors fare much better as well. We aren’t selling mass amounts, there is just one bride per deal date. Vendors control which dates they want listed. This is more manageable for vendors and works better overall for the wedding industry.

Educating both consumers and vendors about these differences is a constant process, but we have realized that clear descriptive information on both our consumer and vendor-facing sites helps significantly. All our marketing materials also focus on the “date-specific.” And all of our staff members are trained to focus in on the date aspect of our business when dealing with clients.

Like branding overall, repetition is the key.

MO: What are some trends you’re noticing in the wedding industry that excite you and your team?

Anita: Shorter engagements of course! The trend toward not waiting and obsessing for a year or more excites us. We also love that women, in general, are not taking the whole celebration as seriously as in the past. It is an extremely important day and you should have everything you want, but you should also take it all with a grain of salt otherwise you won’t enjoy it.

My husband and I have such amazing memories of our day because we had fun with the whole process. We didn’t let the little stuff get us down. We booked our main vendors and then sat back and enjoyed making some of the best and most important memories of our lives.

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