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Mag looks for Latina bride matchup


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    Bodas launch party in Santa Ana, California

    - Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace

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    Bodas launch party in Santa Ana, California

    - Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace

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    Bodas launch party in Santa Ana, California

    - Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: March isn't a real big month for weddings. But the matrimony industry's already in full swing. Bridal expos are hot right now -- more gowns and decorations and cakes that you can shake a stick at. Wedding magazines are getting bigger by the month, too.

From the Marketplace Entrepreneurship Desk, Caitlan Carroll has this story of a publisher who wants to print part of the $69-billion bridal business in Espanol:


CAITLAN CARROLL: Miriam Gomez and Domingo Sanchez met online. Then they met in person, and fell in love. A few years later, Domingo popped the question. Miriam said "yes" without hesitation and hit the bridal magazines hard.

Miriam Gomez: I went to the market and the drug store probably every day with my mom, even before I got engaged. I think it's just something we tend to collect over the year, or throughout the years.

Both families will spend big for the big day -- probably around $30,000. Miriam will wear a long veil like her Cuban grandmothers. And she and her fiancee have hired a deejay who can play salsa and boleros music. Miriam says she looked through dozens of magazines to get ideas.

Gomez: Ceremony magazine was one of my favorite magazines. Also Brides magazine, In Style -- that's where we found a lot of our vendors.

Lilian de la Torre wants her new magazine to be at the top of that stack. It's called Bodas USA, or weddings. It's the first American bridal magazine written entirely in Spanish.

De la Torre says many Hispanic couples like Miriam and Domingo are willing to spend big bucks on their weddings. And they're also folding in more traditions.

De la Torre: We have a saying in our culture that "tiras casa por la ventana" that means that you just throw everything out the window. Because when it comes to weddings, people go in debt -- and Latinos are not an exception.

At the Bodas USA launch party, Latina models sashay down the catwalk wearing big skirts and long veils. The staff wanders around nervous as new brides.

For De la Torre, this day is seven years in the making. She invested $100,000 of her own money and took out a loan. She also got support from the National Hispanic Business Women's Association.

Teresa Mercado-Cota: It's a family affair. I'll put it that way.

President Teresa Mercado-Cota.

Teresa Mercado-Cota: We are here as sisters, as hermanas, and we're hear saying: "Girl, we're rooting for you -- and not only that, we're going to put our resources there."

There is fertile ground. A recent study shows the buying power of young U.S. Hispanic consumers growing 14 times faster than the traditional market. Advertisers want a piece of that. Total ad spending in Spanish-language media jumped to almost $3 billion in the first part of last year. Bridal magazines are only a sliver of that market -- and Bodas will be competing for advertisers not only with Hispanic magazines, but mainstream ones too.

Marketing expert Juan Tornoe:

Juan Tornoe: I think they have some potential. I do believe it's going to be a hard sell for the traditional advertisers, for the big agencies, for the big PR firms. They're going to say: "You know what? We're reaching them elsewhere."

De la Torre is starting small. She's sending out 30,000 copies twice a year to California, New York and Miami. She's banking on a bride's buying fever -- most brides-to-be pick up everything on the rack.

Miriam and her mom smile as they flip through Bodas' first issue.

Gomez: I think that if I was to see a magazine that was targeted I would be more inclined to buying that... Because, for example, in flipping through the pages and I see women that look like me and I can see their families and it's, you know, it's similar.

De La Torre's hoping that kind of connection will encourage brides and Bodas to tie the knot.

In Los Angeles, I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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