Monday, February 08, 2010

Wedding Rant: The Wedding Industry

I'm kicking off Wedding Rant Week with a discourse on the wedding industry. As I recently wound my way through the insides of the industry (along with five or six friends), I think I'm a good barometer of what horrors await a new bride and groom.

The wedding industry is huge. It's changed our views of weddings more than Hallmark invented Valentine's Day. The wedding industry includes all of the wedding websites, magazines, florists, caterers, golf clubs, churches, and traditions that influence how we think of weddings. The number one thing the wedding industry doesn't care about? A marriage.

Statistics vary, but most agree that the average cost of a wedding is in the $20,000-to-$30,000 range. That figure may or may not take into account the honeymoon. Costs include the facility rental, attire for the bride and groom, rings, transportation, photography, invitations and other paper costs, catering, flowers, and gifts.

Attire is a huge cost, though no where near the largest of a wedding. A wedding dress can run from an off-the-rack dress around $150 to a designer dress in the tens of thousands. For any other event, an average woman wouldn't spend more than $200, perhaps no more than $50 if on a budget. This is a costume that will likely only be worn once. $600 for one day. Ouch! And the tux rental is another $150 for a base model tux. The wedding industry tells women that they should feel like princesses on their wedding day, so spending the extra money is "worth it" to feel so amazing. Obviously men aren't targeted in the same way, thus the lower price tag.

Photography eats up a budget quickly. The wedding industry has convinced us that we need to spend a fortune to preserve our wedding day in pictures, movies, and streaming on YouTube. We won't be able to get the same high quality from just any schmoe with a camera, oh no, we need to hire a Professional. $500 for a single hour is cheap, and some package deals sound like tuition costs. But unless that Professional has a fancy black camera and blocks people's view of the happy couple, the photography was "cheap" and "not good." And, in the end, the couple won't even own the rights to the photos!

Invitations mean so much. That's why the wedding industry wants us to use handmade papers and get the invitations engraved. They're in cahoots with the Postal Service to create heavy invitations that cost more to send. We are convinced we need to include RSVP cards and envelopes, directions to the church, and a half-dozen other items to further weigh down the invitation. The entire tone of the wedding is set by the invitation, so the industry has convinced us to spend, spend, spend! to let people know what to expect on the Big Day.

Florists are in on the wedding industry racket. A dozen roses at Safeway are $9.99 year-round (except at Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, then $49+), but a dozen roses in a wedding bouquet are $4 per stem. Lilies and orchids can be as much as $10 per stem. Even the average green fern can be $5 or more in a wedding arrangement. The word "wedding" means a price jump for anything pretty. The same goes for any wedding flower accessories at a craft store. Fake flower petals in the wedding aisle at the craft store are $5.99 for 200, but I picked up 300 petals for a dollar at the Dollar Store. Same thing, same color, and the cheaper ones actually looked better!

Wedding = money. The industry around weddings has made life a nightmare for any new bride, especially a bride on a budget. The good news: there are ways around spending a fortune. A savvy bride can knock zeros out right and left if they avoid the traditional routes to a wedding.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Hi, Jaggy!

I am one of your invisible and silent followers, or until now I was... (invisible and silent, that is... I love your blog) Anyway, I am only 21 years old, but your points about the wedding industry only make my vision for a small wedding that much stronger. Granted, even small weddings can cost a small fortune, but I am all for skipping all the hoopla.