Fairchild said it would name a new publisher and editor-in-chief at a later date. For now, Fairchild chairman and editorial director Patrick McCarthy will oversee the publication.
While Fairchild president and chief executive officer Mary Berner was unavailable for comment, she said in a press release that Elegant Bride would be a nice fit alongside Fairchild consumer titles W, Details and Jane: "This acquisition fits with our strategy to publish niche, upscale titles at the top end of the market. We also envision tie-in potential with many of our trade titles."
Fairchild's acquisition of Elegant Bride sets up a potential sibling rivalry with fellow Advance Publications company Condé Nast Publications, which owns Bride's and Modern Bride magazines. While Elegant Bride is a good deal smaller than either title - its circulation sits just below 150,000 - the weak ad market means that the mags will likely continue to battle for ad dollars from the same fashion, cosmetics and luxury goods advertisers.
It's a battle that many mags in the bridal category have been losing in 2003. While Bridal Guide is up 15.3% in ad pages over the year-ago period (to 1,410 from 1,223), Modern Bride has slipped 7.1% (to 1,220 from 1,313) and Bride's is down 8.7% (to 1,636 from 1,792), according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Only Modern Bride has seen an increase in ad revenue - and a scant 3.1% increase at that.
There's no reason to think that bridal mags are enduring anything worse than a temporary slump, however, given the enormous - and demographically desirable - niche they serve. Every year, 2.4 million people get married in the U.S.; they spend more money in the six months before and after the big day than during any other 12-month period in their lives. The grand sum spent on U.S. weddings last year was $72 billion, with $8 billion more devoted to honeymoons and $19 billion on wedding gift registries.
"With these titles, you're talking to people who are in the market - you're talking to the drunken sailor who has money to spend," former Condé Nast Bridal Group president Peter King Hunsinger said earlier this year (he has since moved to the publisher post at GQ). "People who are planning their wedding are looking to make it the best day of their lives. You don't scrimp on something like that."
Elegant Bride debuted in 1988 as Southern Bride, a publication with a decided regional and cultural slant. It was relaunched as Elegant Bride in October 1990.