With over 20,000 weddings held in Lebanon every year, young Lebanese entrepreneurs Bashir Gemayel and Naji Abou Ghosn decided to expand their U.S.-based wedding website iWedPress.com to the Lebanese market in 2012.
iWedPress, which launched in December 2011, focuses on customization and ease for those about to get married. In one sense, it's a standard wedding information website, that allows the engaged couple to send invitations and post information both about themselves and the upcoming wedding, but its key difference lies in making the photographer's job easier.
The site allows photographers to upload photos to the couple’s website, and then print directly from the website once the couple chooses their favorites. The photographer’s name, logo and website link are automatically present on the credits page.
Besides the customized photography printing feature, iWedPress plans to add a directory of Lebanese wedding suppliers, a guide to assist couples with website creation, and an interactive seating chart. The founders are also working on launching an iPhone application to help couples budget their wedding expenses beforehand and receive better price packages through site discounts.
Thus far, the site has slowly built up a customer base of 3000, fed by the founders' own funding, yet now they are deciding to focus on Lebanon for more traction. At first, they were skeptical about “the lack of e-culture in our country and the unguaranteed national payment solutions,” says Gemayel.
Yet after their success in the U.S., Bashir, Naji, and their team decided to return to their home country and have already attracted several customers, getting the word out through e-advertisement and television wedding shows.
Competitors include lebanonweddings.com and emabrook.com, which offer similar wedding planning services, but iWedPress is the only site to offer customized wedding pages thus far. With only 33% of Lebanon's population online, and wedding sites not being a very widespread trends, it's possible the site will have an initial uphill battle.
However, the wedding market is always lucrative, with weddings in Lebanon often costing between $50,000 and $100,000. With any perseverance, and with diverse offerings, iWedPress will likely be able to carve out a slice of the market.