Starting a wedding business with a laser cutter
Who doesn’t love a great wedding? From the story of the proposal, to choosing the perfect outfit, to the vows, the wedding breakfast, the first dance, the party – it all makes for a fantastic day that lives on in memory for years to come. For those of us that are creative types, or that have been involved in a wedding, or who are simply cynical, it is clear almost immediately how much potential the wedding industry holds if you’re creating a business.
Here are just a few statistics to underline just how huge the wedding industry is in the UK:
- The wedding industry is worth a massive £14.7 BILLION in the UK
- Just under 80% of the business occurs between April 1st and October 31st each year
- Couples typically spend more than £12,000 on their wedding day alone
- The average number of invites sent for a wedding is 96 – that’s an incredible number of invites sent every year!
Although the wedding industry took a huge hit with the COVID-19 crisis, with weddings both completely cancelled and postponed, there is little to suggest that weddings will become obsolete any time soon – happy couples still want to be married. As lockdowns lift, it stands to reason that there will be a flood of couples rushing to tie the knot.
If you already own a laser cutter (or you’re considering buying one) then creating a business catering to the wedding industry can be a great way to increase the value for money that you can get from it. When you’re creating a wedding business with your laser cutter, don’t forget that weddings aren’t just between men and women today. Same sex weddings were approved in England and Wales in 2013, so remember that when you’re designing your products – there isn’t any reason to exclude potential customers and miss out on sales.
Talking about missing out on sales, this post is going to be led by UK style weddings, with UK traditions. But where couples and their families are not from the UK, or the wedding is being held within a different faith, different items may be required – meaning there are opportunities to create them with your laser cutter. You’ll need to be sensitive, of course, where you’re creating designs that have religious elements – so be sure to do plenty of research.
Let’s take a look at some of the laser cut, or laser engraved items that are in demand for weddings, either as part of the event or as gifts.
Before the wedding
Ahead of the big day, there are a number of products that happy couples want to get sorted – starting with their save the date cards and wedding invites, planners, storage boxes and so on. Many of these items don’t have to be personalised, and there are much less luxurious generic versions of these products available – but they make great engagement gifts, so don’t discount the idea! When you’re listing the items on your website or on the marketplace you’ve chosen, be sure to use the right combination of keywords, to make sure your listing is returned when customers are searching.
Laser cut wedding invitations
The wedding invitations – and even before that, for to ‘save the date’ cards – set the tone for the type of wedding that will take place, and reflect the personality of the happy couple. Laser cut wedding invitations are increasingly popular, because they can be produced relatively inexpensively, yet they look and feel luxurious, allowing couples to save on costs without sacrificing the effect.
Wedding planners and journals
With so much to think about, plan for, and make decisions together about, many couples choose to keep careful notes – both to help with their planning, and to look back on and remember what they did in years to come. Rather than having a standard notebook though, having a special book or folder is preferred. These can be created from paper, card, wood, or plastics, so we’ll let your imagination go to work.
Bridesmaid and groomsmen requests
Although many friends and family members will know that they will be a part of the wedding party a long time before the proposal has occurred (or even before the spouse has been met, in many cases!) there has been a rising trend in formally requesting that someone be part of their wedding party. Typically this may include a note with a small gift – whether it is a piece of jewellery, a candle, socks, or a tie pin, depending on the recipient and their personality. While you’ll be able to create those items, there’s also the potential to create a laser cut note, or even to create a full gift basket that includes non-laser cut items.
Products for the wedding day
There are no end of personalised details that betrothed couples look for and add to their day to make things really special – which is how the wedding industry has grown to the size it has! With more couples looking for unique details that become talking points for their guests on the day, there are huge numbers of opportunities to create items with your laser cutter.
Ahead of the ceremony
Even before the couple walk down the aisle and say, ‘I do’, the day has to be special – and not just for the couple. Think about the process of getting ready – whether that involves makeup, a special drink with a loved one, or another treasured moment.
It isn’t just the outfits for the couple getting married that might require a personalised hanger. Particularly where there are a number of bridesmaids or groomsmen that have dresses or suits that look the same but have been tailored, brides or grooms may order coat hangers with names etched into them. Some may decide to have a special message engraved too – either thanking them, or with the date of the wedding and the names of the couple.
Cufflinks and tie pins
While there are millions of options for each of these items in existence already, many couples want unique versions for their special day. With that in mind, look at the availability of cufflinks and tie pins that feature references to popular culture, books, movies, TV shows, and so on. If that’s not your thing, then you can keep it simple and offer to add initials, the date of the marriage, or other personalised design.
Flower holder basket
While the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres are likely to be kept in water to keep them fresh until right before the ceremony starts, if there is a large wedding party, then the couple may decide to order a special basket to hold the flowers. A simple wooden crate design with a carry handle is a great place to start, with names and dates added – but the possibilities are endless, and you can create designs that are as intricate as you like. They’re a lovely keepsake for the couple to use in their home for years to come.
At the ceremony
First impressions count, don’t they – and no matter how grand, or small and sweet the venue, couples often spend a large chunk of their budget at the venue, making it their own. Creating decorations for wedding ceremonies with your laser cutter can get your business off to a great start.
The job of welcoming guests to the wedding tends to fall to groomsmen, or some of the bridesmaids – but there may be distractions, and so many couples have signage, just in case someone arrives and isn’t met at the door of the venue. What better way to create signage – such as seating, ceremony instructions and order of events – than with your laser cutter?
Bunting was traditionally made from scraps of material, and while that is still true today in many cases, there are some excellent examples using thin wood, with laser cutter etching the designs, or creating a beautiful intricate lace effect using paper.
While those couples who have bought rings from the likes of Tiffany and Co or Cartier might want to show off the box, there are thousands more couples that won’t have splashed the cash – or they may not want to be as showy. When the best man, or whomever has been tasked with being the ring bearer walks down the aisle, it is nice to have a personalised ring holder. There is plenty of inspiration to be found for ring holders, from simple wooden boxes etched with initials, to slices of wood inscribed with the date – let your imagination run free.
Confetti might be annoying, but it is a traditional part of a wedding! Whether the couple want a rustic feel, or a high end look, paper confetti cones are easily created using your laser cutter. And because paper is relatively inexpensive too, with costs being low and demand high, confetti cones can be a great way to start your wedding business with your laser cutter.
During the party
Once the vows have been exchanged and the celebrations begin, there are still loads of opportunities for the happy couple to want customised and laser cut goods and accessories. Decorations are a logical place to start – but the opportunities are endless.
There are thousands of ways that couples decide who is sitting where – with tables given numbers, names and so on to differentiate which table is which. Similarly, there are a number of different laser cut items that you can offer for tables at the wedding breakfast, from the stand with the table plan, to placeholders, table numbers, dinner menus, candle holders, napkin holders and more. With so many options, you could almost create a business that specialises purely in items for tables at a wedding alone!
Wedding favour boxes
The traditional sugared almonds may no longer be the preferred wedding favour, but many couples do choose to go down the route of giving sweets, or other small token favours at each guest’s table setting. They might have spent just a few pounds on a few boxes of chocolates, but when put in intricately designed, laser cut, paper or card wedding favour boxes, they look much more luxurious.
Although traditionally, couples have tended to have miniature figurines for their cake toppers, it isn’t always the preferred option today. Laser cut toppers in the shape of the couple’s surname and their titles (Mr & Mrs, Mr & Mr, or Mrs & Mrs) are popular options. Wood, or plastics are best here, but your imagination might come up with all kinds of other successful options.
When it is your wedding day, everything is special – and if you’re going to be drinking a toast, then suitable glasses are only appropriate. Champagne flutes etched with designs that are customised with names, dates and titles are almost mandatory for brides and grooms – and they’re often given as gifts too.
Engraved cake knife
Assuming that the couple are having a traditional wedding cake, then they’re going to need a cake knife. There may be one in the family already, but if not, that’s where you can step in. A laser engraved cake knife and server will be treasured by the couple – but this idea may take a bit more research and sourcing of the unadorned items.
There are millions of gift ideas already on the market that include Mr, Mrs, Bride, Groom, and so on – and many recipients of such gifts will be thrilled with them. You can offer these impersonal items, but weddings are the occasion for personalised gifts to really come into their own.
Personalised gifts to give to the newlyweds
Personalised gifts for the happy couple often include their names, the date and place of the wedding and perhaps a favoured quote or song lyric. There are so many ideas that come to mind even without doing any research – so use these ideas as your starting point, then search online, and get creative!
With the hundreds of photos that get taken at weddings, it is unsurprising that photo frames are a popular wedding present. While a generic photo frame is always nice, having a personalised gift takes it up a level – whether you choose to offer laser engraving on metal, glass, wood, or even plastic frames.
With so many details that are bought for the day, it stands to reason that couples want to keep hold of at least one of everything, from confetti holders to decorations. Getting a newlywed couple a keepsake boxes with their name and the date of their wedding is both a useful present, and a beautiful one too. Plain, unfinished wooden boxes are easily sourced online, and can be engraved with your design – or if you’re crafty, you might build the boxes yourself, and use more unusual materials, including glass or leather.
Couples watch and ring stand
Uniquely designed watch and ring holders are popular gifts for couples – whether engraved with a beautiful phrase from a book or movie that mentions time, has the time and date of their wedding, or simply has a special personalised message from the gift giver.
Personalised gifts from the happy couple
Traditionally the groomsmen, bridesmaids, and the bride’s parents could expect to be handed a present each as a token of thanks for the effort, or financial generosity that they have contributed to the wedding. However, today there are a number of other people that the newlyweds buy presents for – including both sets of parents (and even step-parents), pageboys and flower girls, and even siblings.
Since the cost of a wedding can run into tens of thousands of pounds very quickly, many betrothed couples look for more affordable, but personalised and meaningful gifts to say thank you to the people that have supported them. These might include:
- Laser engraved, and cut plaques with a special verse or message
- Jewellery with messages that are laser engraved
- Vases with a personalised message (especially suited to where the mothers of the couple are receiving flowers as a thank you gift)
- Glasses or mugs
- Candles or candle holders with an etched message
- Personalised hip flasks
As we’ve already mentioned, these lists of ideas could go on forever – but this post is to get your creative juices flowing!
Wedding anniversary gifts
Once you’ve perfected your range of wedding goods (or you’re at a loss for ideas) you might diversify your business and encourage repeat custom by offering gifts for wedding anniversaries.
Photo engraved items make an ideal wedding anniversary present, and engraving photos onto items is a popular service that customers want – especially when there’s a perfect photo from the day of the wedding. This requires specialist software for your laser cutter, but is relatively affordable – the 1-Touch Laser Photo package is just £238.00 (excluding VAT) and could pay for itself within just a few sales. Don’t forget, you don’t have to offer this service just for wedding customers!
Marketing your business
Once you’ve designed and created the range of products that you’re going to offer your customers, you’ll need to work on marketing. Social media, and your own website are logical places to start, but you’ll also want to consider whether you’re going to sell offline. We offered plenty of advice in this post about starting a business with a laser cutter, and almost all of that applies to starting a wedding business with a laser cutter too, so head there for more ideas.
Selling online is a lot more straightforward than it used to be. We’ll touch briefly on each of the typical ways to sell online here – through your social media, your website and on marketplaces – but for each of these methods, you’ll need to ensure you’ve considered:
- How you’re going to handle customer service – will you have a dedicated phone number, email address, speak to customers on social media?
- How you’ll send the items to customers – which courier or shipping service is right for your items?
- Factoring costs such as shipping, marketplace, and website fees into the price of your items
- How you will manage your inventory, and prevent overselling – as your business grows, a spreadsheet may not be enough!
Building a social media presence, and growing the number of your followers is essential to your success. Using the social media channels that place an emphasis on visuals and sharing is key – so, Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start for sharing your products, but most of the different social media channels can be made to work for you. You might start creating video content for YouTube too, if you’re confident in doing so.
Using social media isn’t just about having a great feed – although that will be where you start! More and more, social media companies are creating eCommerce functionality within their platforms. Instagram have swipe-up on Story posts (as long as you have more than 10,000 followers) and there is the ability to tag items that can be shopped directly from the feed too. Pinterest has increased the number of ways you can sell to customers on their platform, such as allowing for online catalogues to be created, as well as shoppable Product Pins that mean your customers can click through and purchase. The beauty of Pinterest is that once a pin has been created – and the relevant hashtags added – it has the potential to be found by users forever.
Although creating a website used to be an in-depth thing that took a long time to get set up, today thankfully it is much easier, with relatively few technical skills required. There are a number of website builders that are designed specifically with small eCommerce businesses in mind, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, and many of the popular website builders have made eCommerce functionality available, including Wix and Squarespace.
These services are simply to set up, most allowing you to use customisable templates that you can drag and drop features onto. You’ll pay a monthly fee for this type of website, but generally you’ll find absolutely everything that you need, including apps or add-ons to help manage SEO and your inventory.
Whether you’re planning to offer customisable products or not, you may decide to list your items for sale on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Selling on marketplaces can help to increase the number of sales you make, but there are a number of things to be aware of before you do so.
Be sure you choose your marketplaces in line with your target customer. Customers that are looking for beautiful and unique items for their wedding often head for marketplaces like Etsy, Folksy and Numonday, rather than Amazon and eBay – although for more generic wedding items like confetti cones, they’ll head there.
Before you start listing products on any marketplace, make sure you fully understand the cost implications of selling on the marketplaces – you may need to pay a listing fee, a commission on each sale, or a seller subscription (and in many cases, a combination of fees).
Selling in person
As with selling online, when selling in person you’ll have costs to cover – there may be a fee to pay to be part of the events, you may need to pay insurance, and you may even need to factor in paying for network data to be able to show your website off if the venue doesn’t have Wi-Fi.
You can find plenty of local couples that want your items for their wedding by attending wedding fairs as an exhibitor. You’ll need to take examples of your work, and consider having a laptop or tablet that you can show the rest of your designs to couples on.
In most cases, you won’t need to spend money on producing brochures, but you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for customers to find you. As a bare minimum, be sure to have beautiful and memorable business cards with your website, social media handles and other contact details on. You might also want to consider creating a QR code that takes potential customers directly to your website when they scan it with their phone, so customers don’t have to keep hold of your card – and even if they browse away from the page, they can find your website in their browser history.
If the wedding fair organisers have a website (and most do these days) then be sure to get your details listed, so that if customers want to find you again, they can. During the event, take photos that you can add to your social media feeds, tagging the organisation and the businesses around your stand that you’ve met. Tagging and sharing other small local businesses is a great way to create word of mouth business – and those connections can be potentially very lucrative in the right circumstances.
If your business really takes off, you may consider taking on a shop on a high street, or in a strategic location that makes sense – it might be a shopfront near where you work with your laser cutter, a shop near a church or other wedding location, for example. If a whole store is out of reach, there are still possibilities for your products to be sold in shared retail locations such as department stores, or by partnering with a more established wedding retailer to sell items on your behalf.
If none of that makes sense for you, there are still opportunities to sell your items offline at spring fairs, summer fetes and Christmas markets. Not only can you take along stock to sell, but as we mentioned before, having a laptop or tablet means you can show your full range to customers, and being able to take orders can help to boost your annual sales over just a few days of the year. Don’t forget to pack those business cards and your QR code.
What sort of laser cutter is right for a wedding business?
It really depends on the type of items you want to be able to create. If you’re mainly going to be working with paper, card and maybe thin woods, your laser cutter needs relatively little power, while if you’re planning to work with thicker woods, plastics, or metals, you may need a completely different type of laser cutter altogether. We’ve covered the different types of laser cutters in this post, and the types of materials that can be used in them here – so rather than go over that information again, head there if you’re in the first stages of deciding whether to buy a laser cutter. Don’t just jump in – do your research carefully.
In addition to your laser cutter, you’ll also need a PC that is powerful enough to handle the design packages that you want to work with, and enough storage – either in the cloud, or on an external hard drive – to store the design files you’ve created.
There are hundreds of products that you can use a laser cutter to produce, in thousands of different styles that will almost certainly lead to your wedding business becoming a success. We’ve touched on just a few in this post, and between your creative imagination and finding inspiration across the internet, we have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the opportunities to create beautiful items are endless.
Once you’ve created your designs, you’ll need to market your items carefully, in line with your branding, and start to sell – whether you choose to sell in person or not is up to you, but making sales online will be key. Putting together a great website, choosing marketplaces, and building a social media following are all essential steps, and don’t forget you’ll need to plan carefully and ensure your costs are factored into the price you charge your customers.
Finally, one last point – don’t find yourself without your laser cutter at a crucial moment! Be sure to service your laser cutter regularly, and consider investing in a service plan that allows for emergency call-outs. It could be the difference between your business succeeding or not, and could save you from really damaging poor reviews if you have to cancel orders.