Thursday, April 12, 2012

Great article on costs and trends in the wedding industry

Since 2007 and have kept tabs on the $74 billion wedding industry by annually surveying nearly 20,000 couples on every detail of their event from the planning process to napkin colors. The results for 2011 are in and, frankly, they’re pretty surprising. We spoke with’s site editor Anja Winikka about the staggering cost of a wedding, what’s replacing traditional wedding cakes and why September was the most popular month to say “I do.” W e know that celebrities' fashion choices have a huge influence on what we all wear. How much of an impact did the royal wedding have on couples' wedding decisions?
I’d say the Kate Middleton effect is huge. The wedding was in the end of April so it really made an impression on people planning winter weddings. We saw a lot of lace, sleeves, ball gowns, more traditional settings and details like having flower girls and a white budding bouquet. But people are still talking about it on message boards. It will impacting the weddings people are having this year for sure.
I can guess the answer to this, but what’s the most expensive place to get married? Manhattan is always the most expensive. That’s not a shock, it’s true. But what’s interesting is that two unexpected places made the “overall wedding spend” list for the first time— the Poconos and Detroit. They came in at Nos. 19 and 20. (Editor's note: See below for a full list of the top 20 cities)
One of the biggest revelations from the survey is the amount of money people are spending on their events. Was this a surprise?
Absolutely. We found that for the first time since 2008 the average wedding budget has increased. In 2008 it was $29,334 per wedding. In 2009 the number went down to $28,385 and even further down to $26,984 in 2010. In 2011 we saw an uptick to $27,021.
Let’s talk about wedding colors. Anything unusual there? Purple is the fastest-growing wedding color. Blue and green have been high on the list for a long time at 30% and 24%, but purple is up to 15% from 21% in 2010 and 16% in 2009. Right now in 2012 we’re seeing a lot of pink weddings, so that might make a jump next.
Classic wedding cakes are on the outs?
The majority of brides (67%) still go for the traditional tiered cakes but cupcakes are gaining in popularity. They’ve gone from 13% in 2010 to 17% in 2011. People think they want a wedding cake but by the time they get around to ordering it, they realize it’s not going to fit in their budget. Cupcakes are a great cost-savings.
According to the survey, our summer weekends may be looking less crowded.
That’s right. Summer is still “wedding season,” but not as much as it used to be. Only 37% of weddings took place in the summer, down from 41%, while fall increased to 36%. One of the reasons was that the dates 9/10/11 and 11/11/11 were hugely popular, so that may have swung the pendulum. Four times as many brides got married on 9/10/11 as opposed to any other Saturday in September. The number phenomenon started back in 7/7/07, another summer Saturday.
Was it an attempt at off-season cost-saving? I think these wedding dates
skewed the numbers, because September is also one of the most expensive times to plan an event. If you’re looking to save money, just like when you’re traveling somewhere and looking to save on a hotel, look for dates during the shoulder season. Exactly when that is depends on where you live. For people in Tucson, for example, the high season is March, April and May, so January and February would be less expensive. For Florida, summer is actually the off-season and winter the most expensive. How about formality. Should guys plan on renting, not buying, tuxes?
We’ve seen a rise in casual weddings— “casual” in terms of dress code and also feel. Think outdoor weddings with mason jars and wild flowers."Semiformal" still reigns at 65% but “casual” increased to 16% from 14%. At the same time “formal/black tie” fell to 16% from 18% back in 2010 and 20% in 2009.
You’re planning a wedding—have you noticed yourself following any of these trends?
I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I’m having a wedding website which the majority of couples now have— 69% in 2011, up from 65% in 2010. And I’ve done a lot of planning on my phone. The survey found that 58% of brides use their smartphones to share wedding-related pictures and 47% use them to look up vendor info. Three-day long “luxury” weddings are more popular. I don’t know if I’d consider mine ‘”luxury” but it will be three days of events, not just a one-day affair.
Top 20 most expensive places to get married (according to and
Based on average wedding spend in 2011, these are the areas around the US where couples spend the most on their wedding:
1. New York City (Manhattan): $65,824
2.Chicago, IL: $53,069
3.NY Metro (Long Island, Hudson Valley and NYC Outer Boroughs): $50,087, $46,560, $40,356
4.Northern/Central NJ and Southern NJ: $46,600, $38,103
5.Rhode Island: $41,307
6.Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA, and Los Angeles, CA: $37,823, $37,690
7.Philadelphia, PA: $37,014
8.Boston, MA: $35,560
9.Southern Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas): $34,465
10.Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland: $34,203
11.Connecticut: $33,789
12.Baltimore, MD: $32,702
13.Northern, CA, San Diego, CA, and Orange County/Inland Empire, CA: $32,261, $30,482, $29,826
14.Hawaii: $31,461
15.Pittsburgh, PA: $29,703
16.Louisiana: $28,790*New to Top 20 List in 2011
17.Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, and Austin/San Antonio, TX: $28,717, $27,459, $27,735
18.California/Nevada (Sacramento, Tahoe and Reno): $28,028
19.Lehigh Valley/Poconos, PA: $27,339*New to Top 20 List in 2011
20.Detroit, MI: $27,017*New to Top 20 List in 2011

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