Ceremony at the golden gazebo with warm white light points and decorated with living flowers and pasture for the wedding campain of the shopping center Väla Centrum in the city of Helsingborg, Sweden.
#Retail Real Estate    15/03/2019

Case Study: A year of love in Sweden’s Väla Centrum

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Väla Centrum (Väla) is an award-winning shopping center based on the outskirts of Helsingborg in Sweden. It’s a popular attraction for visitors who love the world-class shopping experience offered by the center’s 200 shops as well as the opportunities to relax with friends and family in the center’s restaurant square.

In 2018, Väla’s marketing manager Ulrika Nordström wanted to create a campaign that would raise the center’s profile, drive footfall, and delight shoppers. A wedding fair had already been planned for March 2018 to celebrate spring and love, weddings and wedding parties, and the center’s tenants were actively supporting and participating in what would prove to be a well-received promotional event. Nordström and her team decided to adopt a key theme from the fair and use that as the cornerstone for a year-long campaign. That theme was love.

The launch of an out-of-the-ordinary competition

To kick-start the campaign,  Väla launched a competition offering one lucky couple the chance to win a dream wedding, including rings, clothes, accessories, make-up and hair, a wedding cake, transportation, an overnight stay, a wedding party, professional photography, and the wedding ceremony, valued at a cool 100,000 SEK (+-EUR 10,000). The stroke of genius? The winning couple would marry on June 16th in the center itself, in a custom-designed space near the fountain in the center’s quaint Old Square.

The competition launched in January in the first edition of their in-house magazine, “Väla Magasin”, and was quickly picked up by the local press, who went wild about the idea of a year of love and a competition in which couples could win a wedding.

Everything but a chapel

Väla had the space, sponsors who could supply many of the prizes, and media engagement. What they didn’t have was a chapel, and that’s where MK Illumination Sweden entered the story.

“Ulrika Nordström had a pretty clear idea of a romantic, stylish structure for the wedding ceremony. We wanted to help her realize her ideas and also make sure that the center would be able to reuse the structure in the future for other events, too. We presented two ideas: one was simple but modern, the other was more traditional with a hint of a ‘fairy tale’ feeling. The latter was more expensive but won hands down,” said Camilla Rosén, Key Account Manager at MK Illumination Sweden. “The final design felt intimate whilst still being open and visible. As the wedding was to take place in the heart of the center during standard opening hours, we wanted the ceremony to be public enough so that shoppers could witness the ceremony, talk about Väla, take photos and share online.”

The result was a custom-designed pavilion, finished in an elegant gold powder-coating, with hundreds of warm-white LED light points, and recyclable golden Organic balls from MK Illumination’s product range, all filled with light. To add a natural touch, the structure was entwined with flowers and greenery provided Väla’s florists.

One winning couple, but more than one wedding

Thanks to the media engagement and clever marketing strategy of the center, over 115 couples submitted short stories, poems, and creative writing describing their personal love stories. The competition closed on April 30th and although the choice was difficult to make, the prize was eventually awarded to Alexandra and Johannes, a couple from Munka-Ljungby. Alexandra was surprised as well as excited: apparently her mother had spotted the competition in the local press, and Johannes had secretly entered. A fabulous story for the couple, and an equally powerful story for Väla’s intrepid marketing team.

On the day of the wedding, the winners were whisked off to be transformed into a bride and groom, and in the meanwhile, the wedding area and chapel were put to good use.

“We wanted to give as many couples as possible the chance to use our chapel and get married, so in addition to the big ‘prize wedding’, we offered a ‘drop-in wedding option’ in the morning and afternoon,” said Nordström. “In the end, our wedding director Jessica Stålhammar married 17 couples on the day, 16 of which were drop-in weddings.  It was a modern-day love story.”

Each of the couples exchanged vows in the new pavilion, bathed in the warm glow of the interwoven lights and watched by friends, family, and shoppers, many of whom had a tear in their eye.

Tapping into the zeitgeist and creating a unique experience

In Sweden, an increasing number of couples are choosing to depart from the traditional church wedding, choosing to marry outdoors and in secular spaces, so Väla’s “wedding in a shopping center” idea resonated with many people across the region. It was also something that hadn’t been done before, a truly unique experience in a time when people crave the new and different.

“Although we wanted to create a campaign that was high profile and innovative, we also wanted the couples to feel as if their big day was something special. The pavilion that MK Illumination created helped us to create a simple but beautiful setting for the ceremonies, creating the romantic and tasteful atmosphere that we wanted,” said Nordström.

Ongoing media engagement

In order for shopping centers to stand out from the crowd and attract visitors in an age of online shopping, it’s necessary to do something completely different, and Väla certainly succeeded in this respect. The media and the public were fascinated by the weddings and stories about the center and the couples continued to appear in the print media as well in online channels for several months following the special day.

Väla’s investment in developing the center and creating an interesting event has been recognized in across the shopping center sector, and they won “Sweden’s Best Shopping Center” for the third time at the Nordic Council of Shopping Centers (NCSC) Sweden Awards 2018 (they also won in 2000 and 2012), which once again generated media interest and visibility.

What about the light-filled pavilion?

MK Illumination Sweden made a point of designing the pavilion in a way that would allow it to be decorated differently for different seasons, adding design features like two interchangeable roofs that allow the center to give the structure multiple looks-and-feels. It made a short appearance over Christmas 2018, this time filled with festive light and décor, and it’s hoped that it will make regular appearance in campaigns at Väla in the future.

“Combining light and design to create unforgettable experiences is what we do,” said Rosén. “It’s a joy to know that Väla’s pavilion will continue to be used in the center – we believe in creating solutions that have long lives and it looks like our pavilion will have a very long life indeed.”

* Images kindly provided by Väla Centrum

More information

For more information about how to integrate light into your shopping center’s seasonal or annual campaigns, please contact:

Titina Probst
Sales Director
+43 (0)512 20 24 30 28

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