Tanning is an important part of wedding beauty prep, creating a lucrative opportunity for spas. We look at how to get it right
WORDS NORA ELIAS & SUZANNE BRAITHWAITE
Weddings are big business for spas, particularly hotel spas. Not only are brides having tanning, makeup and hair treatments on and in the run-up to the big day, so, increasingly, is the entire bridal party.
With hen party spa visits and services for the groom and the men in the bridal party steadily growing in popularity too, there is every incentive for spas to make an effort to tap into the wedding beauty market.
This includes focusing on what is now a staple of beauty-related wedding prep: spray tanning and tanning packages.
Kissed by Mii tanning expert Shelley Henderson says tanning is high on the bridal beauty agenda these days.“Tanning has joined the ranks of hair, makeup and nails as a bridal necessity. It’s become one of the top priorities on the [wedding] beauty to-do list,” she explains.
Having that healthy, golden tan gives [them] instant confidence.” Clients are also prone to splashing out on treatments in the run-up to the big day, making them more likely to have their wedding spray tan at a spa. “People tend to upgrade for a wedding, so they may go to a high-end spa instead of their regular salon,” says Fiona Wallace, an ambassador for Sweet Squared, which distributes tanning brand Moroccan Tan in the UK.
No client wants to sport the tangerine look, especially not on her wedding day, so it’s essential to ensure brides try out the tan with plenty of time to spare. “I would recommend brides-to-be to trial the tan two weeks before the wedding, to ensure they are happy with it,” says Sandra Vaughan, global beauty consultant at Fake Bake.
“That way the trial tan has time to fade, so the skin is clear for a fresh tan just before the wedding.” St Tropez celebrity tanning and skin finishing expert Jules Heptonstall adds that clients’ trialling their tan before the wedding “allows you to build a relationship with them, so you understand the colour they want. The last thing anyone wants on the big day is a tan surprise”.
If the bridesmaids are also getting spray tans it is, Heptonstall continues, advisable for them to suggest they trial their tans together. “It’s good to stress the importance of everyone in the bridal party having the same brand of tan, so there will be a unity of colour,” he says.
Making a group tanning booking could also be a great way for clients to get into the sprit of the day. “It’s a fun and exciting way for the bridal party to get together and feel confident that they are all looking and feeling their best and that the correct tan colour has been selected,” comments Urban Tan brand manager Lisa Barnett.
“It’s important that the bride’s tan is natural looking and complements the colour of her wedding dress,” she adds. If clients come to you well in advance of the wedding you can, Roche suggests, experiment with one or two tanning solutions, to see which best suits their skin tone.” For wedding clients who skipped the tanning trial, Wallace recommends playing it safe.
“Professional spray tanning is very difficult to get wrong if it’s being carried out by somebody who’s been trained in it and is using a high quality product,” she says. “Nevertheless, my advice would always be to err on the side of caution if it’s somebody who hasn’t had a trial run. Use the lightest option – a bride generally doesn’t want a dark tan, they just want a glow.”
Gemma Jones, brand manger at Bliss, which distributes tanning brand Whitetobrown in the UK, emphasises that even if clients did not come to try their tan a few weeks before the wedding, the spray tan cannot be left until the last minute.
“Never spray a client the night before the big day!” she says. “We advise clients to book in at least two days beforehand, to ensure the bronzers have been washed off the skin and won’t discolour the dress.”
Before and after
Giving the bridal party the right pre and post-treatment advice is essential to ensuring a great looking and enduring tan. “Make sure the bride and bridesmaids exfoliate at least 24 hours before the tan, to cleanse and polish the skin for a more even and long lasting tan,” says Jayne Covington, marketing manager at LDN Skins.
Practical points, such as reminding clients to consider what type of underwear to put on for the spray tan should, Wallace says, not be forgotten either. “Knowing what underwear to wear is particularly important for brides,” she says. “They might be wearing a strapless wedding dress and could be going on honeymoon straight after.”
Covington adds that therapists should “ensure clients keep their skin hydrated and nourished [after the appointment],for a more radiant glow. Pay particular attention to typical problem areas, such as wrists, hands, elbows, knees, ankles and feet – to stop the tan becoming patchy.”
Image: St Tropez
In cases of a last-minute crisis she explains that “applying Vaseline to dry areas can be a quick fix, for the perfect tan on the big day.” Another last minute tip for the morning of the wedding is, Heptonstall advises, “to moisturise with a rich body butter, to lock hydration into the skin and prevent the tan from drying out”.
Counselling brides to keep their skin hydrated is crucial if they want to make their tan last as long as possible, including through the honeymoon. “Moisturisation is key,” says Roche. “Clients should not use creams that contain oils, as oils strip the tan colour.
They should also not be afraid to buff the skin daily, as this will ensure a natural fade and avoid patchiness.” Henderson explains that “to encourage a more even fading of the colour, it is recommended for the bride to exfoliate gently four days after the treatment.”
Any spa wishing to target the bridal market and promote its tanning services needs to have offers and packages specifically created for this customer group. “It’s a good idea to have a variety of packages to suit different budgets and needs,” Wallace says.
“These should include tanning, but also nails, makeup and possibly skincare and waxing as additions, with the price obviously increasing as the number of treatments go up.” Henderson also suggests offering a diversity of wedding packages. “Include options for the bride, bridesmaids, mother of the bride and even the groom, with a selection of packages and tiered savings,” she says.
For wedding-related tanning, it is particularly important to offer more than just a service, to turn the treatment into an experience. “A golden rule is to always make the bride feel special,” says Vaughan. “If you do, she will recommend [the spa] to friends and family.
Image: Urban Tan
A simple glass of bubbly while she’s waiting for her treatment can do the trick, and a promotional offer for her and her bridal party could lead to further sales.” As with any client or group, including savings or extras will also be popular with bridal party bookings. “For large bookings, it’s nice to introduce some kind of offer, such as the bride going for free,” Jones says.
Henderson suggests that add-ons such as “free homecare products for the bride, to make her feel even more special and ensure she has everything she needs to prep her skin for the perfect tan,” is a great idea. A good additional service to provide could be to “offer the option to pay in easy instalments,” to make treatments more affordable for brides.
The male touch
Spray tans are not only increasingly popular with women of all ages and from all social groups, but is also gathering ground with male clients. While the majority of clients booking in for a spray tan in the run-up to a wedding are still women, spas should not forget about the groom and the men in the wedding party.
“Men are getting into the trend now and also want that glow. They want to feel great and look good in the wedding pictures: it’s their big day too,” Barnett says. “Men are less embarrassed about having tanning treatments these days, so [spas should] embrace that.”
This, Jones says, creates excellent opportunities for spas. “Male or female, everyone wants to look their best at a wedding and spray tanning is one of the easiest ways to appeal to this market.” Heptonstall comments that “men love a spray tan as much as women.
It’s also fun for the couple to have the treatment together”. While men are today more likely to come in for a spray tan than just a few years ago, Henderson emphasises the importance of making them feel at home in an environment they are generally still less familiar with than women.
“The key is to ensure that men feel comfortable and relaxed when coming in for a treatment and that they don’t feel intimidated by the traditionally feminine environment,” she says.
Wendy George, brand manager at Crazy Angel says that for grooms and the male wedding party guests it is, just as for women, ideal to offer different packages. “A package for the groom could include a full body spray tan, eyebrow shaping and a manicure,” she proposes.
Spreading the word
To turn wedding tanning into big business for your spa, you need to make sure existing and potential clients are aware of what you offer in this area. “Email marketing, social media marketing, promotional material in the salon and running competitions with wedding titles to win bridal tanning packages,” are, Vaughan explains, all key areas to focus on.
Jones adds that “wedding season really begins in April, so ensure your marketing and treatment list are geared towards potential clients for [that time of year,].” A great tip, as Barnett highlights, is to “send mailshots to your client database early in the year, after Valentine’s Day, as this is the most common time for proposals.”
Wallace agrees it’s essential to target your existing clientele. “If you have a large client base already, chances are at some point they will be getting married, attending a wedding or be the mother of the bride,” she says.
“People generally want to go somewhere they have already been, rather than somewhere they have never heard of, for the big day – so your existing client base is a good one to target.” While spring might be prime wedding season, promoting your tanning bridal packages should not be limited to this time of year. “Owners should advertise these packages all year round,” says Sienna X founder Nicky Matthews.
Joining forces with other businesses that provide products and services for weddings is, Matthews continues, a smart way to market yourself. “Ask florists, hairdressers or wedding dress shops to hand out your cards to their customers, and offer to do the same for them,” she says.
Henderson similarly suggests spas “team up with local florists, cake makers and other local businesses. Display each others’ promotional material and even host a bridal evening to showcase your offering,” she recommends. Using past clients to attract new ones is, Barnett, says, also a good promotional tool. “It’s a great idea to ask any clients that you spray tan for a wedding for one or two wedding pictures, so you can use them as case studies in future marketing.”
The global wedding industry is estimated to be a $298billion (£197bn) business and spa services, including tanning, now form an increasingly important part of wedding prep. So, regardless of how you tailor your offering, there is no doubt that the growing bridal tanning market is ripe with opportunities for spas.