Why Celebrity Weddings are the Next Marketing Moment

why celebrity weddings are the next marketing moment insight article header with photos of Sophia Richie-grainge wedding

How the Once-in-a-lifetime Event has Created a Highly Lucrative Vibe Shift, by Riding on the Wave of Quiet Luxury 

By Angela Baidoo

The much-anticipated Sofia Richie-Elliot Grainge wedding, not only set the world of social media alight, but it also served as a Quiet Luxury marketing masterclass and has been the pivotal turning point in the reinvention of one of Gen Z’s ‘It’ girls.


  1. The Case of Sofia Richie’s Reinvention – from Gen Z Influencer to the ultimate Stealth Wealth Wife.
  2. The Covert Marketing Moment, and the Desirability of Inaccessible (to the masses) Archive Fashion.
  3. Catering to the Top 1% to Drive Future Growth.
  4. The Big Day, Done in a New Way.

The Case of Sofia Richie’s Reinvention – from Gen Z Influencer to the Ultimate Stealth Wealth Wife

Sofia Richie-Grainge wearing Chanel wedding dress

The buzz generated in the weeks which followed the nuptials of Sofia Richie (the youngest daughter of legendary singer Lionel Richie) and music executive Elliot Grainge (son of Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group) at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the South of France, took on a life of its own through stories, feed posts, and For You pages across social media. It was not only the level of extravagance which kept her fans intrigued, but also the choice of Chanel, as an unofficial wedding partner-cum-collaborator, which saw the bride (with significant assistance from her long-term stylist, Los Angeles-based Liat Baruch) wear three custom-made Chanel looks across her wedding weekend.

At only 24, her style has seen a chrysalis-like transformation, from LA party-girl to All-American Socialite. Richie (now Richie-Grainge) has chosen to ditch her party-girl aesthetic and instead turn to brands including The Row, Tory Burch, and of-the-moment New York brand Khaite (the brands founder Catherine Holstein was named Womenswear Designer of the Year at the 2022 CFDA Awards). Her ascent into the world of Quiet Luxury, in order to makeover her image, raised an age-old debate around class, old money vs new money, and the unspoken rules around the trend which requires those participating in it to lean into a more modest or conservative take on fashion, which is about being in the know to communicate ones wealth, rather than having to rely on ‘look at me’ logos and maximalist embellishments.

Her choice of Chanel for the wedding should come as no surprise, as her long-standing relationship with the luxury fashion house, precedes her recent nuptials. In late 2022, both Sofia Richie and her older sister Nicole were seated front row (and dressed by the house) at the Paris Fashion Week show. She had also previously walked for the Chanel Métiers d’Art shows in 2016 at the Ritz, Paris.

Following her wedding and the marketing coup that was achieved for Chanel, a natural evolution of their relationship could involve a brand campaign, which would build on the buzz created in the last month. Virginie Viards most recent ode-to-LA, old Hollywood, and #Barbiecore in the form of her Resort 2024 show would be a perfect starting point as the outing in LA aligned with Richie’s youthful, yet playful feminine aesthetic, as was demonstrated by her choice of a feathered tweed jacket and silk shorts combination to attend the show.

Carefully curated looks across the wedding weekend, secured a high level of brand engagement – both for Sofia, Chanel, and the contemporary luxury names she chose to employ, such as Khaite and Proenza Schouler (both receiving over 400 and 500 thousand likes on Instagram, respectively). Capturing these small celebratory moments across her wedding weekend for her feed, felt like a less aggressive marketing roll-out. The looks came across as accessible in the way in which they could be easily broken-down for TikTok dupe videos, and revenue-driving e-commerce features, and shoppable content activations for fashion and lifestyle publications. There has also been a concerted (read deliberate) effort to include as many accessories as possible over the past year, seeing as these items are often the brand entry-point for new luxury customers, after fragrance and beauty. Since January Richie-Grainge has used her Instagram feed to highlight Chanel’s much-coveted embellished sock booties, a beech wood vanity case, and a signature camélia phone grip. With a worldwide brand value estimated at $15.3B U.S dollars in 2022 according to Statista, their accessories, including their handbags, continue to be some of the most sought after by luxury consumers. Withstanding several steep retail price increases while continuing to hold their value in the resale market, with the vanity case in particular currently on offer for £22,106 on 1stdibs.com.

The Covert Marketing Moment, and the Desirability of Inaccessible (to the masses) Archive Fashion

Spawning its own campaign title, the Richie-Grainge wedding was dubbed #ourroyalwedding by creators across TikTok. Causing Richie-Grainge’s already ascending star to go stratospheric in a matter of days. A woman, not unknown to the industry, she has both modeled (Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Jeremy Scott) and designed (partnering with sister Nicole for a collection titled ‘House of Harlow 1960 x Sofia Richie’) in the past. Since partnering with Liat Baruch, she has rebuilt her personal brand to face into the vibe shift, which is prioritising a #cleangirlaesthetic and #quietluxury over the maximalist ideals of recent years. A trend which many female stars in Hollywood have been emulating, as a way to stay relevant to the next generation who are favouring pared-back, yet highly stylised wardrobe and beauty routines.

Zendaya wearing 1980s YSL

Moving in silence, or at the least in a way which speaks to a non-chalant attitude to fashion, is proving itself an effective marketing tool. This way of selling to the masses in a covert manner has seen many creators refrain from tagging brands – leaving the door open for further partnerships by not aligning with any one brand. Leaving followers to do the guess work by uploading images to google, following links to popular shoppable apps such as LTK, or heading to the comments section where a quick scroll will lead to an in-the-know fan revealing the provenance of said sought-after item. In adopting this style of silent promotion, the breadth of contemporary luxury labels entering the market can build up a slow-burn, as opposed to the popular method of overnight virality, which can have the negative effect of causing a sense of fatigue when their ‘Hero’ product is seen, suggested, and promoted to death.

As the new crop of TikTok creators and fashion critics unearth retro runway images and highlight the origin story of today’s trends, Gen Z have in turn taken to acquiring hard-to-find or obscure vintage finds from their favourite brands archives. From Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s collection of 1980s and 1990s Jean Paul Gaultier – Kylie wore a vintage khaki bra dress from 1987 to the Parsons awards in June 2021. To Zendaya, whose celebrity stylist Law Roach pulled a 1980s YSL couture ensemble for her to attend the Black Women in Hollywood Awards in April 2021. It was only a matter of time before vintage fashion, from a Gen Z perspective, filtered into the wedding market. Taking the term ‘Something Borrowed’ to its natural conclusion, as re-commerce and rental sites from By Rotation to Hurr and MyWardrobe HQ have started to offer wedding dress rentals. Further fuelling the growth of the rental market, which is set to reach $2.33B by 2030, with a CAGR of 8.5% from 2022 to 2030 according to a report published by Grand View Research.

The 2023 Met Gala, honouring Karl Lagerfelds legacy with an exhibition titled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, further amplified the concept of tapping into a vintage wedding dress for any kind of major celebration. Met Gala co-chair and Grammy Award winning British singer Dua Lipa took to the white carpet in a fall 1992 Chanel Haute Couture bridal gown (sourced by her stylist Lorenzo Posocco). Originally worn by Claudia Schiffer, where it was topped off with a matching mini boater hat and floral hair accessories. Not to be outdone, fellow co-chair and face of Chanel’s 2018 cruise collection, Oscar-winning actor Penelope Cruz opted for a sequin-embellished chiffon style bridal gown, with built-in veil which doubled as a hood, from the house’s summer 1988 Haute Couture collection. Sofia Richie-Grainge, in her third dress of the day, also opted for another Claudia Schiffer 1990s number, in the form of a layered off-white mini dress with a 3d floral camélia trim, where she took to the after-party and danced-sans-shoes.

Making her TikTok debut just before her wedding weekend, Richie proceeded to utilise the platform as a way to filter out content in real-time with live posts of her getting ready for pre-wedding festivities, rehearsals, throwing her bouquet, and her honeymoon. So, her community of followers also got to feel a part of the big day through her authentic storytelling.

Weddings are events that can generate a high-level of buzz from a fashion, food, music, hospitality, and travel perspective, all of which came through as under-the-radar marketing moments. As Richie-Grainge continued to live her ‘It Girl’ lifestyle she provided BTS content with her brand collaborators. From the moment of her engagement, through to the selection of dresses, venues, flowers et al, and her bachelorette party in Paris.

Catering to the Top 1% to Drive Future Growth

Whether it’s quitting a career or investing in a luxury purchase, there is a definitive shift towards operating in stealth mode, with the volume purposely set to mute. And for those consumers who operate at the top of the pyramid, the luxury retail, travel, beauty, and hospitality industries are curating experiences and developing products specifically centred around this co-hort, as a way to drive revenue growth in the future.

Succession wearing Nicholas Jermyn

According to recent research by Oxfam, of the $42 trillion in new wealth created since 2020, 63% was amassed by the world’s 1% at $26 trillion. Luxury e-commerce platform Net-a-Porter also revealed (in an interview with WWD) that they refer to their top 3% of customers who drive sales and contribute the biggest bottom-line growth as their EICs – Extremely Important Customers. Choosing to engage these discerning few requires a strategy which provides a unique level of creativity to develop experiences that will both delight and engage. Making them feel special and that the service they are receiving is not readily available to all. All the while ensuring that at the end of the experience there is a seamless, almost invisible, path-to-purchase.

Coming at a time when the industry is currently deep-diving into all things Quiet Luxury (a Bottega Veneta flannel-printed shirt in leather is currently retailing for £4,300), due to shows such as Succession, any expected backlash to solely catering to the privileged few has failed to materialize in any significant way that would present a PR crisis for luxury brands. Mainly due to the fact that there has been a move by consumers towards buying for investment purposes and trading up where possible due to economic uncertainty, which can be seen in the way the global resale market is forecasted to nearly double by 2027 to $350b (according to thredUPs 2023 report).

Key luxury players including Chanel and Hermès have also increased their prices without significant resistance from their core customers, who they continue to draw in. As they view the price rises as a status symbol and reflection of their own lifestyles, communicating to others that they have secured membership to an exclusive club, furthering the brands’ desirability.

Both remain two of the most trusted names in the luxury space with storied histories, enabling their products to hold their value over time, as noted Sofia Richie-Grainge’s vintage Chanel beech wood vanity case is currently on sale for over £22,000.

CASE STUDY – Mytheresa CEO Michael Kliger recently revealed how their top 3% of customers accounted for close to 40% of the luxury e-commerce platforms sales. Justifying the company’s continued expansion of its programme of insider experiences, events, and marketing activations catering to their top-tier clients. In recent months these have spanned Europe, the U.S, and the Middle East and have included a Loewe x Paula’s Ibiza collection launch in Beverly Hills – with a twilight dinner at the iconic Sheats-Goldstein Residence, and a Jimmy Choo exclusive capsule launch in Venice, where guests including Mara Lafontan, Ivy Love Getty, and Ikram Abdi explored the city with Vice President of Buying at Mytheresa Tiffany Hsu, dining at the Venetian Palazzo Zeno. Tapping into the rise of winter-resorts, a 3-day winter activation at the luxury winter sports destination of St. Moritz, saw Emilio Pucci and Fusalp join forces for a ski collection. Launched with a brand takeover – think Pucci-printed ski lodges and flags along the ski-runs – guests included model Precious Lee, stylist and art director Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, and Pucci artistic director Camille Miceli. The activation met the top 1% where they like to spend their leisure time, with the collection exhibited in an art gallery pop-up in St.Moritz.

Private shopping has also had a modern makeover as private suites, purpose-built showrooms and tailored retail destinations have unashamedly been popping up from Paris to Beverly Hills. In April Gucci debuted its salon store concept in Los Angeles, catering to its wealthiest customers. The by-appointment space will offer made-to-measure services, as well as mens and womens collections, accessories, homeware, luggage, and its Haute Joaillerie range. Appointments can be arranged from a few hours to a full day with high-end dining catered by Gucci’s Osteria restaurant, with the option of red-carpet fittings available to Hollywood royalty, the brand also plans to roll-out the concept to London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris, and New York.

CGI rendering of the PS MIA terminal

Scheduled to open in 2025, Miami International airport is investing in its high-net worth visitors with the opening of a dedicated private luxury terminal service. Taking over the former Pan Am headquarters, the historic building will house private suites, a la carte dining, high-end spa services and a luxury lounge called ‘The Salon’ that will be subject to a $1,250 annual membership fee for access. A key benefit of travelling through the terminal will be the express service through security and a chauffeur-driven escort to an awaiting plane. Ensuring travellers arrive having experienced a stress-free journey pre-boarding with an enhanced social lounge experience, bringing the best elements of a luxury hotel to the transitory part of travel. Run by PS, a location is currently operating in Los Angeles’ LAX airport, with plans for similar terminals in Atlanta and Dallas.

The Richie-Grainge wedding guest list read like a who’s who of American High Society. Outside of a few well-known influencers, such as Paris Hilton (who still made the grade due to her background of old ‘Hilton Hotel’ money) the wedding hosted a particular socio-political circle of influence, rather than influencers. The wedding guests came from generational wealth, and in selecting them to make up a key part of their wedding party, Richie and Grainge let the outside world get a glimpse of the very closed-off universe a certain segment of society still operates within. Said guests included Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece, Talita von Furstenberg (granddaughter of Diane Von Furstenburg, and co-chairwoman of DVF), Tess Kemper (whose grandfather is billionaire Kirk Kerkorian), Tania Shroff (whose father is Industrialist Jaidev Shroff, and is well-connected in Bollywood), Caroline Bell (whose father is Hollywood producer Bradley Bell, who executive-produced The Bold and the Beautiful, and her mother, who is a former US ambassador to Hungary), Audrey Kotick (whose father is Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard who produce Candy Crush and Call of Duty), and original ‘It Girl’ Paris Hilton (great-granddaughter of Hilton Hotel founder, Conrad Hilton), who used the occasion for a spot of self-promotion by doing an informal photoshoot within the wedding grounds.

The Big Day, Done in a New Way

The bridal industry, as with many others, is moving with the times and adapting to consumers renewed needs which centre around frugality, making memories, and styling options that are versatile enough to go beyond the big day.

In 2020 visual discovery engine Pinterest saw a 179% increase in searches for ‘Micro Weddings’, now according to new data the destination wedding is seeing a surge of interest from Millennials as “1 out of 4 couples is opting for [a] destination wedding in the American region” as reported by Allied Market Research. With the market for resort-style weddings forecasted to increase from $21.6 billion in 2021 to $291 billion in 2031, according to Statista.

The announcement that go-to bridal brand, David’s Bridal LLC, who have had a presence in the market for over 73 years (starting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with one small boutique) were filing for bankruptcy, comes at a time when contemporary luxury names are finding opportunity in the bridal category and launching collections for the modern bride.

Designers who have recently announced their entry into the bridal market have included:

Wiederhoeft – one of the breakout stars of Paris fashion week last season, Wiederhoeft have been creating bridal collections since their debut within the category for spring summer 2021. Always leaning into the “unapologetically romantic”, their highly stylised wedding gowns are a world away from tradition, while offering a new take on historical silhouettes, think drop-waist flapper dresses, and fishtail gowns with quilted puff sleeves. Their fall 2023 show featured no less than seven bridal looks which were worn by models of all genders. Wiederhoeft’s unique point-of-view on bridal is well-suited to a generation forging their own path and upending classic dress codes, while still embracing an age-old tradition.

CASE STUDY – Christopher Esber – has partnered with Net-a-Porter for an edited capsule of seven pieces, whether guest or bride the Australian designer tuned into the online activity from his community who he had observed were wearing (and tagging) the brand for their more minimalist wedding ceremonies. Considering how the collection will work post-nuptials, Esber’s capsule will effortlessly work for low-key summer occasions and vacation wardrobes, while the strapless jersey maxi dress in particular could be re-purposed for both casual and formal dining.

Kim Kardashians Skims brand has added a ‘Wedding Shop’ to their e-commerce offer, catering to ‘Ceremony Staples’, sets for ‘Bridesmaids’, and destination wedding options for the ‘Getaway Bride’. Nensi Dojaka, whose sexy sheer lingerie-inspired aesthetic has become her signature created a line of 24 wedding styles for both brides and bridesmaids. Tulle bustiers and briefs are sold alongside gathered embellished gowns, masculine blazers with tapered pants, and floral-trimmed tights.

Nensi Dojaka Bridal Mytheresa fashion photo

As contemporary designers breathe new life into bridal silhouettes, a broader range of shapes are coming to the forefront. Slip dresses which borrow from the intimates category, mini blazer dresses, high-neck maxi dresses which offer more coverage for the modest consumer, and embellished separates that offer the ultimate in versatility for their ability to be re-styled for day or night.

Black dresses have also become popular among Gen Z and Millennial brides, seeking a dress that will give their bridesmaids a variety of options once they say ‘I Do’. Sofia Richie-Grainge also chose black gowns from Saint Laurent to Rodarte for her wedding party – strapless, halter, asymmetric, and sweetheart neckline in style. Pinterest and wedding planners Zola’s 2023 Wedding Trends Report backed this trend as they tracked searches for ‘mismatched black bridesmaid dresses’ increasing by 535%. Opening up an opportunity for both traditional and non-traditional retailers to tap into the market, as black occasion dresses of all lengths, which suit and in turn flatter a range of body shapes should be marketed as part of bridal edits. Capitalizing, not only on the classic black dress’s ingrained elevated elegance, but also the styles sustainable credentials as a post-wedding wardrobe addition that will modernise the traditional pastel-coloured bridal ensemble.

Key Takeaways

More than just a single moment, weddings in 2023 and beyond will focus on making the most of this once-in-lifetime event. Despite weddings forecast to see a slight dip in 2023, couples are continuing to invest in them, whether through a destination wedding or expanding the celebration across a whole weekend. As the coming years see younger Millennials and older Gen Zers start to consider marriage there are a number of marketing opportunities for brands to build on:

1. Back Quiet Luxury for the Big Day

As consumers mindsets shift to align with the Quiet Luxury trend, modern brides will be considering ways to emulate the most popular influencers and ‘It Girls’ wedding playbook in a more mindful way. Looking to multiple dress options (whether old, new, or vintage) to maximise styling options for the day, while allowing the dresses to do the talking.

2. BTS Wedding Content Creation will emerge as a New Marketing Avenue

As both Millennial and Gen Z brides are choosing to share their wedding journeys across social media, new roles for content creators to develop content and upload it in real-time for wedding ceremonies will emerge, as traditional videographers and photographers focus on capturing more polished, professional content.

3. Tap Into the Alternative Wedding Space

Brands should continue to tap into the concept of the alternative wedding gown – whether from contemporary labels or sourced from brand archives – womens ready-to-wear collections should include at least one option for the modern bride, with the additional option to adapt an existing style for a wedding. There should also be increased investment in marketing bridal looks for longevity, communicating how dresses can be re-styled for the everyday – Prada’s fall 2023 show in February elevated the wedding dress to daily staple with the addition of a grey cashmere sweater.

Her choice of Chanel for the wedding should come as no surprise, as her long-standing relationship with the luxury fashion house, precedes her recent nuptials. In late 2022, both Sofia Richie and her older sister Nicole were seated front row (and dressed by the house) at the Paris Fashion Week show…and she had also previously walked for the Chanel Métiers d’Art shows in 2016 at the Ritz, Paris.