Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Wedding Business and Me

As we roll through the various passages of our lives, I write about them!  Ha, bet you thought I was going to say something philosophical or wise!  No, just my observations and personal travails, for all of us to share. And of course, how these relate to our business, the business of superb development of attractions, retail, culture and other fun kinds of projects.

Like so many Baby Boomers, I have Generation Y children in their late 20’s.  Now is their decade of weddings.  Weddings of their friends.  Weddings of old lovers.  Weddings of cousins.  And on my god yes, their own weddings!  We tend to see our children as children.  But as they near 30, a little voice kicks us in the pants and says “snap out of it girl, they are all grown up and it’s time to see them as the adults into which they have blossomed.  You did good girl, now enjoy!”  Ha!  Easier said than done.  These are still our babies, the little boys and girls who loved us so, who saw us as their heroes, who couldn’t wait to get home from school to tell us about their day, who begged for toys and games, who kicked that greatest soccer goal, who wrote those corny birthday and mother’s day cards, who filled our hearts with joy for almost three decades.  And now they are getting married?  Geeze.  Transferring all the adoration and joy to a new heart, it is the good and righteous path.  Just somebody, get me a couch, I think I may fall over!

Along with all this emotional tsuris, comes a whole litany of pomp and circumstance, a great deal of expense, and a satchelful of time and compromise.  And that’s just for the mother of the groom, which is my role.  For the mother of the bride, I can only imagine.  When I got married, the second time, we did it in our backyard, with a justice of the peace and about 10 friends.  I wore a lovely whiteish dress that was in my closet for years, someone got the cake for us, and we had a little ceremony with a small party afterwards:

Can you tell when this was?  My hair was in cornrows, just after the successful launch of “10” with Bo Derek, who had her hair in cornrows!!  This marriage has lasted quite a while!  Not bad for a wedding that cost maybe $250!!


Here’s an accounting of the number and cost of weddings in the United States, from 1945 to 2011:

                       1945 – 2010 Source: US Census, CDC

                       1945 Source: Saturday Evening Post – 5/26/1945. Vol. 217 Issue  48, p11-46, 4p/1990-1999 Source: Christian Science Monitor – 6/4/2001, Vol. 93 Issue 132, p12/2002 Source: Fairchild Bridal Group The American Wedding/ 2005-2011 Source: The Wedding Report, Inc. Proprietary Surveys

That’s bigger than the combined U.S. revenue for the theme park industry at $11.0 billion, the motion picture exhibition industry at $11.0 billion, and the video gaming industry at $10.5.0 billion  – $32.5 billion total.  So shouldn’t we get smart about how to capture just a piece of this pie?

The breakout of the average cost is as follows:

  • The reception accounts for a bit more than one third of the total cost
  • The other largest expenditures are for photography/videography (13%), wedding rings (6%) and flowers (5%).
  • The average wedding cake costs about $500
  • The average cost of an engagement ring is $4,647!
  • The average wedding dress cost is about $1,300.
  • The average bridesmaid dress, just over $130.
  • And destination weddings, now 15% of the 2.1 million, last six days for the wedding couple and three days for the guests

Just for fun, I italicized the expenditures that are included in our industries:  retail, hospitality, and travel.  Total for our industries, $34.7 billion. Maybe we should be paying more attention!

Here are 5 rules to follow to get these young soon-to-be married Gen-Y’ers into your projects:

  1. Connect with them well in advance of their nuptials.  Whether you are a resort, retailer, or restaurant, become part of their aspirational head-space, first through excellence in your product, then through social networking, and third through print and media advertising.
  2. Always be creative in your marketing.  Give them something unexpected, memorable, without peer in your industry.
  3. No matter what your price-point, even with the highest end products, offer value.  These consumers are the most educated and savvy ever, with the ability to compare prices all over the world.
  4. Destination weddings are BIG, so if you can, get in on the windfall!  With an estimated $16 billion going to this format, build this into your project with relevant facilities and services fulfilling the full range of wedding needs from retail shops to rehearsal dinner planning and venues to the most beautiful wedding spot ever imagined!  Be sure to have a wedding planner/coordinator on staff, and if this business grows, increase the staff!  (Some of my clients in Hawaii already have these spots and don’t know it!  They just need to market them and reach their affluent target audiences.)
  5. Finally, use staff that looks like them. These are young consumers.  They don’t want an old out-of-touch consultant assisting them.  But no matter the age, make sure this staff is well educated about their product and/or service.  The protocol for weddings is long and complicated, dating back centuries. Make sure they know what came before so they can forge the road to the future!

And  four more trends from the 2012 U.S. Wedding Insight Report:

  • June and September are the most in demand months
  • Bright, Bold, or Vibrant tones are still in
  • Couples want fun, romantic, and simple events with a touch of formal and tradition
  • Rustic and vintage continue with high demand

Some other expenditures, and one year increases from the 2012 Wedding Insight Report:

Category Item



Chg %

Total Average Spending Total




Attire & Accessories Dress Accessories




Headpiece and/or Veil




Tuxedo/suit/other Accessories




Tuxedo/suit/other Rent/purchase




Wedding Dress/es




Beauty & Spa Hair Service




Makeup Service




Manicure & Pedicure




Entertainment DJ




Live Band




Musician/s, Soloist, or Ensemble




Flowers & Decorations Boutonnieres, Corsages




Bridal Bouquet




Bridesmaid Bouquets




Ceremony Decorations




Ceremony Flower Arrangements




Flower Girl Flowers




Flower Petals




Reception Decorations




Reception Flower Arrangements




Reception Table Centerpieces




Gifts & Favors Gift/s for Attendants




Gift/s for Parents




Tips (for all services)




Wedding Favors




Invitations Ceremony Programs




Engagement Announcements




Guest Book




Invitations & Reply Cards








Reception Menus




Save the Date Cards




Table Name and Escort/place Cards




Thank You Cards




Jewelry Engagement Ring




Wedding Bands




Photography & Video Digital or Photo cd/dvd




Engagement Session




Prints and/or Enlargements




Traditional Leather Bound Album




Wedding Photographer




Wedding Videographer




Planner/Consultant A La Carte Services




Day of Coordinator




For Getting Started




Full Service




Transportation Limo Rental




Other Transportation




Venue, Catering & Rentals Ceremony Accessories




Ceremony Location




Ceremony Officiator




Hotel Room for After Reception




Reception Accessories




Reception Bar Service




Reception Food Service




Reception Location




Reception Rentals




Rehearsal Dinner




Wedding Cake/dessert




Looks like the destination/location-based wedding business is booming!