You're engaged, now what?
Technology is revolutionizing the way business is done, and the wedding industry is no exception. From Pinterest boards of their dream weddings, to following their favorite social influencer when she gets married, to tagging friends in posts of videos and pictures of their wedding inspirations, you can ditch the wedding planning binders, and simply plan your wedding online!
Millennials account for nearly 77 billion people, are a larger group than the Baby Boomers, and over twice the size of Generation X. For a business owner, this is a huge target market! With almost all of them on at least one social media platform, the expectation for on-demand service is higher than ever. The leading generation is becoming more dependent on technology as it advances. Luckily, companies have found a niche that used to never exist – wedding technology to suit millennial couples!
Here are some of the technologies that are changing the wedding industry:
Wedspire - By catering to those who expect instantaneous service, Wedspire has found a way to take the stress out of your wedding planning. Imagine that Pinterest created a customized wedding-inspiration feed based on your style, taste and budget. Take that magical feed and transform it into a personalized Netflix-style listing that shows you the best options tailored for you. All you have to do is click "add to cart." That's Wedspire - a unique wedding planning platform that revolutionizes the wedding planning game. From your Wedding Planner to your veil, every detail matters and is available for purchase in one place. Wedspire helps turn couples' ideas into reality.
Aisle Planner - The ultimate wedding planning organizer down to every detail. Wedding planners have taken a step away from the traditional binder or pen and notebook. They're finding comfort in applications like Aisle Planner as they navigate their way through their newlywed's wedding-planning process. From planning, to design, to business to collaboration tools, Planners are at ease with using an application to stay organized. The organization of an application makes sharing ideas, images, and files that much easier!
Zola - An all inclusive site for your registry needs! There is now no need to wait in line at your local department store and then walk throughout the store scanning items you want your guests to buy when you can simply choose directly on your phone or computer. From household items to honeymoon experiences, you can choose from a vast number of offerings all in one place. Well-known brands such as Kate Spade, KitchenAid, and Nespresso are listed on the site, making for an easily-accessible list that caters to all needs, wants, and styles. Zola also gives guests the “Group Gifting" option for those wanting to all contribute to one gift. With the craze of splitting the cost electronically, millennials love the personalized attributes of this wedding registry platform.
Menguin - For the guys who are always on the go, Menguin is for the modern groom and groomsmen who enjoy customization. Menguin is the highest-rated online suit and tux rental company on the market. With affordable prices and the ability to customize a look from the tie to socks, what else could a guy need? Menguin was founded to fix the frustration born from the time-consuming tux rentals and unflattering fits. With the wide variety of colors and fabric swatches, fast turnaround time, 24/7 customer service, and a satisfaction-guaranteed model, Menguin suits the needs for the modern millennial, pun intended!
Weddington Way - a collaborative shopping experience with the largest assortment of bridal fashion available online, Weddington Way is becoming a household name. It is now the fastest growing e-commerce business in the $100 billion-dollar wedding industry. The site is a collaborative shopping experience for wedding parties in which bridal parties can browse the largest assortment of bridal fashion available online, then discuss the products in a virtual showroom. Weddington Way is differentiated from others in the market, both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar. By offering this collaborative and personalized experience, as well as the ready-to-wear dresses, Weddington Way hits the nail on the head for what millennial brides are seeking.
Minted - an ever-growing design marketplace with an emphasis on crowd-sourcing, Minted takes a new approach to providing stationary options online. It has countless customizable designs created by their community of independent artists. They have built their art, home decor, and stationery business through crowd-sourcing. “We believe that great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists who people do not have access to through traditional retailers. Minted uses technology to allow consumers to discover great creative talent, making Minted a place where artists can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses." - Mariam Naficy, founder of Minted. The steps on how they curate their products are simple but effective.
UberEVENTS - Forget coordinating buses and coaches on your big day. Uber has revolutionized the transportation for weddings and events. UberEVENTS is a division of Uber dedicated to events and weddings that allow you to pay for and schedule where, when and how your guests travel during your special day. The only thing they have to worry about is having a great time celebrating your big day. The best part? You only pay for the rides you use.
Wedding Drones - The photographer's newest friend and the wedding industry's newest fad! Millennials love to stay on top of the trends and set themselves apart from their friends when it comes to planning their special day. Many contemplate adding a drone to their expenses, since the resultant imagery is spectacular. Drones are all the craze and can assist in getting aerial shots that your professional photographer might not be able to reach. Views of the venue from high above, a picture of all your guests simultaneously, and a scenic bride-and-groom shot are always crowdpleasers! We advise that you communicate with your photographer to ensure the drone driver has a plan in place so it doesn't disrupt your ceremony. Drone Insurance is recommended though, since the unmanned aerial vehicle runs the risk of causing damages. All in all, have a safety plan in place, encourage clear communication between the photographer and drone driver, and have insurance to make sure all goes smoothly on your special day.
The ability for technology to be at our fingertips, tending to our every need is astounding. These Wed-Tech companies have found ways to better our communication, organization, and execution of wedding planning countless ways. Planning your wedding can be a daunting task but by using Wed-Tech, you will find that there are endless opportunities to create the wedding of your dreams, with a less stressful process.
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.