While on the surface, the rise in popularity of champagne walls might seem like just another social media-fueled fad, it’s really because they’re a cost saving measure for parties and weddings.
Up to half the cost of a wedding is rental, catering, and related services. A champagne wall – a wall-mounted rack full of glasses of champagne – replaces a waiter, since it’s self-serve and often also replaces an emcee, since it guides guests to their next activity. Many popular champagne wall designs have slogans like “Sip and Be Seated”. And since it’s vertical, it replaces a table, meaning that for events in small venues, it creates more open space. This is one reason champagne walls have spread from weddings to house parties, with growing demand on sites like Amazon.
But with spend on services declining through the use of products like champagne walls and grazing tables, why is the average spend on weddings growing? It turns out that traditions are changing. While brides’ parents historically covered the cost of the wedding, bride’s and groom’s families are increasingly splitting costs, allowing for increased total spend while individual spend is still lower than before.
Etsy and the champagne wall marketplace
Personalization of the ceremony is the other reason behind growing wedding spend. The prevalence of images from other peoples’ weddings across social media has led to a greater desire to stand out and avoid hosting a wedding that everybody has already seen on Instagram.
While weddings are partly a social event, they’re also partly a marketing event—one purpose for weddings, historically, was to announce to as many people as possible that the couple in question had gotten married. Wedding hosts are increasingly encouraging guests to post photos with a wedding-specific hashtag, the modern equivalent to a millennia-old tradition.
And since weddings get planned online, the biggest wedding trends are the ones that make it onto social media sites. These platforms place a premium on visual trends, and, especially for Instagram, trends that work not just as something photogenic but as something that can be posed next to. The champagne wall is a conveyor belt for content: it gives wedding guests somewhere to briefly stand and get photographed, and then implicitly encourages them to move on and make room for the next guest.
Since champagne walls are a craft product, they’re sometimes sold on Etsy. Uniquely, Etsy sellers often suggest renting rather than buying it, and give customers discounts if they can pick it up and return it themselves. While Etsy has a robust business supporting the sale of craft products, it doesn’t directly support rentals, so products that lend themselves to renting require off-site arrangements to finalize the transaction. The use of Etsy shows that some platforms aggregate so much demand that it’s better to use the site for a purpose other than its intended one than to try to hunt down customers on a rental-specific site.
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