Massage therapists looking to increase business and venture into a new niche area might find future brides eager to say, “I do!” when it comes to bridal massage and other pampering services.

If you have ever been a bride or part of a bridal party, you know firsthand that along with the fun and excitement of a wedding come anxiety, tension and chaos.

While regular exercise and rant sessions with a best friend might relieve some of that stress, massage can be a valuable part of the pre-wedding activities. Massage therapists looking to increase business and venture into a new niche area might find future brides eager to say, “I do!” when it comes to bridal massage and other pampering services.

Healthy parties

As healthy lifestyles become more prevalent, massage parties are increasingly favored compared to barhopping and other types of alcohol- soaked, pre-wedding activities, according to Sharon Naylor, author of more than 35 wedding books, iVillage expert, host of “Here Comes the Mom” on the Wedding Podcast Network and Bridal Guide budget expert.

“Even if you have wonderful people around you for support, you need to decompress,” she says. “Massage can be a mental anchor.”

Naylor points out that massage results in a radiant, relaxed bride, but may also produce some unexpected results, such as bonding with attendants and a future mother-in-law.

“A bride realizes she should spend quality time with her bridesmaids,” she says. “Taking them to a massage place for a hand-and-foot massage and then out shopping brings them closer together.”

Rates and scheduling

Before you decide to cater to brides, make sure you have a solid plan in place, says Sara Daly, president and owner of Waterfalls Day Spa at the Middlebury Inn in Middlebury, Vermont. While the monetary reward can be significant, remember that a considerable time commitment is required.

“Bridal parties take more time than the average client,” Daly says. “Also, brides are chronically late by as much as 20 minutes. You have to buffer that into the day.”

Since spa services for a bridal party can consume several hours, if not the entire day, make sure you charge appropriately. When performing services away from your practice, build in travel and setup time. If a typical massage runs $75, Daly suggests charging double for off-site services.

The costs of massage and related services for a typical wedding party, which typically includes a bride and four attendants, might range from $500 to $1,000.

To be successful, massage therapists interested in entering the bridal massage market should engage in serious networking, says Daly. “Connect with people who offer other services, like cosmetologists, hairstylists and manicurists,” she says, as well as local florists and caterers.

Daly also suggests creating relationships with wedding planners who can provide bridal lead lists. “Go to the hotels and talk to the event managers, and leave your brochure with business cards,” she adds.

Therapists with websites can create a spa registry, as well as ask bridal clients, who often have their own pages on special wedding sites, to add a link to their massage practice’s website. Networking online with sites like Facebook can help a massage therapist develop connections to local businesses involved with weddings.

A massage therapist can also gain exposure by offering to write a column in a local newspaper or magazine. “This gets your name out there and acts as free advertising,” Daly explains. “It helps you connect to others.”

Your menu of services

Although many massage therapists specialize in a particular type of therapy, Daly recommends creating a separate menu of services for brides.

“They are looking for something special, since a wedding is something they don’t plan to ever do again,” she says. Even though offering spa services to a wedding party can be time- and labor-intensive, if you are prepared and confident in your abilities, you’ll build your business.

“A relaxed bride is a radiant bride,” says Daly. Drawing on a sports analogy, Jean Shea, founder and CEO of BIOTONE massage-and-spa products, based in San Diego, California, suggests massage therapists treat the bride as they would an athlete preparing for an event.

“It is important to work with her as part of her support team, so offer a three-month package,” Shea says. “This will give the time needed to really train her skin into its top condition.

“Body wraps, exfoliation and massage will keep her looking good and feeling good throughout the entire process, which will include lots of pre-wedding events,” Shea adds.

A hydrating wrap relaxes the body and moisturizes skin long after the treatment is over. “There are many products for wraps, but I favor a 100-percent oil-based wrap as one of the products that should definitely be considered,” says Shea. “Hydrated skin is also a plus when the bride wants to maximize her appearance for that special day with a spray-on tanning product for glowing skin.”

The therapist also benefits from this multi-treatment approach. “This is an opportunity to not only develop a stronger relationship with the bride, but to cultivate new clients from the wedding party as well,” says Shea. “With smart planning, the therapist can layer more than one treatment at a time, while offsetting the extra time for setup and cleanup.”

No lines

On the wedding day, all eyes are on the bride—and she certainly doesn’t want to walk down the aisle with fine lines, wrinkles and bags under the eyes. Fragile and prone to damage, this area requires special treatment.

Kathy Wright, N.D., acting CEO/general manager of Dayton, Ohio-based B & P Company, maker of Frownies, a wrinkle- and frown- line-reducing beauty product, says using an under-eye patch containing collagen, niacin and other vitamins can build strength and heal unsightly lines and bags. Similar patches for the forehead, eyebrow and mouth can help restore moisture and make brides look younger.

During massage, an under-eye patch offered as a session add-on can become a moneymaker for the therapist. “She can put the under-eye gel patch on while massaging the client and then sell the product for home use,” says Wright.

Special facial treatments with cold marble stones also nourish the skin and rejuvenate the face, particularly for older brides, according to Pat Mayrhofer, president of Nature’s Stones Inc., based in Churchville, Pennsylvania. Essential oils added to the stone treatment enhance the aromatherapy aspect of massage.

Education should be a key component of the cold- stone facial treatments, which should take place weekly for six weeks before the wedding and then once monthly for maintenance, Mayrhofer adds.

Healthy pampering

Nervous, excited brides may find themselves out of balance as the big day approaches. Ellie Whalen, founder of Sprayology, a company in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, that manufactures all-natural, FDA-regulated vitamins and medicines, notes that when stress becomes physical, outward manifestations, such as dark under-eye circles, can appear. Homeopathic therapies offer a simple way to address problems that beset women under duress.

Whalen explains that brides want to be in the best health for one of the most important days of their lives. A homeopathic vitamin formula can boost the immune system, relieve stress, foster nail and hair growth, reduce anxiety, increase focus and slow the aging process.

Using organic products can make the bride-to-be feel special and offer health benefits at the same time, according to Emily LeFave, CEO of Dream Organics, a Spring Valley, California, company that manufactures beauty products with organic ingredients.

“[Organic] products pamper you like a Hollywood celebrity,” LeFave says. “An independent massage therapist can use that popularity to attract business. “When catering to a bride or a bridal party, it’s important to offer them exquisite products that deliver a sense of relaxation, bliss and happiness,” she adds.

LeFave suggests designing an all-inclusive bridal package that includes gifts for the bridesmaids, pre- wedding day spa treatments and makeup applications.

“Offer the bridal party, including grandma and the mother-in-law-to-be, aromatherapy chair massages while they wait for the big event to start,” she suggests.

“Make yourself very available to them and pamper them like a celebrity.”

As Wright notes, massage therapists can boost their bottom line if they carry products to sell to the bridal party, particularly in smaller sizes.

“A 1-ounce product fits into a clutch,” LeFave says. “These [products] could also be placed on the tables at the reception for guests. The bride could give them away at the wedding as favors,” she adds. “The product leaves lasting memories, reminds them of a good time or someone special.”

Groom him

Let’s not forget the groom—after all, he is part of the wedding party and deserves some special treatment, too. Lynne Zsido, owner of Park Avenue Salon and Spa in Hershey, Pennsylvania, recommends incorporating a facial massage into a shave-and-haircut appointment.

“We take the general facial movements and tweak them,” Zsido says. “First, do the cleansing and then facial relaxation with face reflexology; no fluff and buff services. Make it simple and purposeful.”

Massage stones, both hot and cold, work well on a man’s face, says Zsido, who uses hot stones with oil to soften the beard before applying a hot towel.

“Let him relax for a few minutes while you do a hand/arm massage,” she adds. “Use the cold stones on the face before you apply the moisturizer.”

This technique does not cause razor burn and leaves skin ultra-soft. “It also gives men a taste of a spa treatment, so they’ll want to do it again,” Zsido says. “If, after the wedding, the couple goes to a spa, he’ll be more willing to get a massage with her.”

A memorable day

While scheduling a bridal party every week can be tempting, be sure to use common sense.

“Just keep in mind what you are good at, build on your previous experiences, start small if you are just beginning to venture into this area, be creative and be honest with what you can deliver,” says Shea.

Massage therapists who carefully construct a special wedding menu and actively market those services could be responsible for creating a radiant bride and, ultimately, a memorable day.

About the Author

Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human-interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage.

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