Wedding industry in the United States

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The wedding industry in the United States is the providers of services and goods for weddings in the U.S., taken as a whole. Every year in the United States, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings. The following provides a sociological overview of how the wedding industry functions in the United States, cultural and social elements of the event and how it has become the economic giant seen today. The article will also discuss elements of the wedding process that generate major revenue for many major corporations each year. This includes clothes, flowers, music and many other elements that are a part of the ceremony, reception, honeymoon, and bachelor and bachelorette parties.


The wedding industry is a modern phenomenon.

The wedding industry changed and evolved into a capitalist industry that we know today between the 1920s to 1950s, and many American practices that are now considered traditional were developed during this time by advertisements and promotions from major retailers, jewelers, caterers, and many other companies.[1]

In the 1960s and 1970s brides started to deviate from the original wedding plan, and moved the wedding outside of the church. This developed the idea of the "destination wedding," and is still very popular today.[2]

Overall costs[edit]

In 1945 the average cost of a US wedding was $2,240 (adjusted for inflation?, if not this is equal to $25,802 in 2007 dollars).[citation needed]

As of 2012, the median cost of a wedding, including both the ceremony and reception, but not the honeymoon, in the United States, was about US $18,000 per wedding, according to a large survey at an online wedding website.[3] Regional differences are significant, with residents of Manhattan paying more than three times the median, while residents of Alaska spent less than half as much.[3] Additionally, the survey probably overestimates the typical cost because of a biased sample population.[3]

The more widely reported mean cost in this survey was significantly higher, with a mean of over US $28,000.[3] Most people in this survey spent at least $10,000 less than the median amount. The difference of $10,000 per wedding is due entirely to very high spending by a small number of very wealthy couples—the couples most likely to pay for more services from the wedding industry.[3] The mean cost is useful for professionals and salespeople in the wedding industry, as it helps them understand the budgets of people who are spending the most, rather than for the typical person.[3] It may also encourage overspending by their clients, since they can point to the higher mean as being the "average" cost, even though it is much higher than what most couples actually spend.[3]

Weddings in the media[edit]

As of 2006, Bridal Television Shows in the United States attracted more than 30% of the brides planning their wedding each year and over 6,000 bridal shows have taken place each year.[4]

Wedding TV shows allow viewers to see all the hard work and planning that goes into this one-day event. Though humorous and entertaining for those watching at home, these shows get up close and personal into the bride and groom's emotions right up until they say their vows. Many of these shows focus on the temperament of the bride and receive outstanding ratings, but some offer great tips on planning, organizing, and budgeting for a wedding. For example, one of the most popular of these shows is Bridezilla. The process of the wedding along with the lewd behavior of the brides involved makes many viewers around the country tune in week after week."[5]

A few other popular reality TV shows include My Fair Wedding with David Tutera, My Big Redneck Wedding, A Wedding Story, Say Yes to The Dress, and Rich Bride, Poor Bride.

Wedding insurance[edit]

A couple may purchase wedding insurance to cover unexpected financial losses related to their wedding, for instance loss or damage to the wedding dress or tuxedo. Other things potentially covered by wedding insurance include lost deposits as a result of vendor bankruptcy, cancellation due to illness, injury, military service or extreme weather and third-party or liquor liability claims.[6][7] depending on the level of cover required. Problems a couple knew about before taking out the policy are not covered and almost all insurers will not cover cancellations that are due to "cold feet". Currently, only one company does and it can only be purchased by the person who finances the wedding, not the Bride or Groom, and only applies if the wedding is cancelled more than 180 days before. Wedding insurance in the UK is very different with quite a few big name providers.[8]

Cost by area[edit]

Bachelor and bachelorette parties[edit]

Costs of bachelor and bachelorette parties can vary depending on what the party is going to entitle. On average, if the party was very casual at host's home and played games such as horse shoes or bocce, then it may cost 15–30 dollars per person. If everyone went out to a steakhouse or sushi bar, then went bar hopping or wine tasting, it may cost 35–50 dollars per person. Or lastly, say the party was held at an upscale hotel or resort with a 5 course meal and then everyone went out to a nightclub in a limo or a party in a suite then people may be paying anywhere from 150 dollars to 300 dollars.[9]

Wedding ceremony[edit]

This money may go towards things such as the venue, the officiant, the wedding planner, and invitations to the event, as well as music played before and during the ceremony.[10]

For wedding invitations, couples spend, on average, about US $848 which includes costs of stationary accessories ($188) and printed, pre-made invitations or reply cards ($659).

A wedding band or singer may cost at least 1,000 dollars depending on who performs, and this cost can be for either the ceremony or the reception.[10] A professional wedding planner may charge about US $25 per hour or $3,000 total.[11]

Clothing and accessories[edit]


In the United States in 2013, the average wedding dress cost US $1,211.[12]

Television series like TLC's "Say Yes to The Dress" which features bridal boutique, Kleinfeld's, show the workings of the bridal gown industry. The bridal gown industry relies mainly on bridal magazines for advertising.[1]

As for the groom, the cost of his clothes and accessories is considerably less than the bride, with the average cost coming to about $313.[13]

Wedding jewelry and rings[edit]

According to The Wedding Report, [2], the man will spend up to $4,411 for the engagement ring, and $2,067 for his and hers wedding bands. Even in times of economic hardship couples rarely skimp on the jewelry. This boosts sales for the jewelry industry as wedding jewelry is part of a larger industry.[14][3]

Wedding accessories[edit]

There are other accessories such as "something old", centerpieces, décor, bouquets, the wedding veil, garter, and the couple's toasting glasses that are often purchased before the wedding day.

Wedding reception[edit]

The size and grandeur of a wedding reception can be an indicator of a couple's social status or the one they would like to portray. The amount of guests, quality of the food and drinks, location, and who plays the music can all symbolize the wealth and presumed status of the newly weds. The reception can be an opportunity to flaunt wealth and impress guests (friends and family). This can lead to couples and/or parents spending an excessive amount of money and even putting themselves into debt to pay for the wedding.[15] Celebrities like Donald Trump and his wife Melania Knauss spent an approximated amount of US $1 million on their wedding. The reception consisted of 400 guests, was serenaded by a full orchestra, and was catered by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.[16] But this is nothing compared to Liza Minnelli and David Gest's wedding that was estimated at 3.5 million dollars, and then the couple divorced the next year.[17]

Approximately 28 percent of the wedding budget is spent on the reception, which makes it the most expensive part of the wedding.[18]


Main article: Honeymoon

The honeymoon industry is a US $12 billion industry annually.[19] On average, about 10 percent of newlyweds book cruises as their honeymoon trip; 37 percent travel to domestic locations, while 63 percent go abroad; lastly, 40 percent stay at a resort, while 27 percent stay at a large hotel, while 10 percent look into a small hotel.[20]

Leisure activities[edit]

Other than romance, couples often choose to engage in outdoor activities to enhance their honeymoon experience. The top five activities are listed below:
Visiting a new place for sightseeing, restaurants, entertainment and nightlife- 75%
Beaches and lakes – 45%
Casinos – 20%
Cruises – 15%
Golf/sports vacations – 10[19]


  1. ^ "Brides, Inc. – Vicki Howard". 
  2. ^ "Here Comes the Bride: A History of the American Wedding". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Oremus, Will (19 March 2015). "The Wedding Industry’s Pricey Little Secret". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  4. ^ Wedding Statistics for the Media & the Wedding Professional
  5. ^ Reality Wedding TV Shows
  6. ^ Wedding Insurance: Protection When “I Do” Becomes “We Can’t”
  7. ^ "Wedding Insurance in the USA". 
  8. ^ "Wedding Insurance". 
  9. ^ "Cost of a Bachelorette Party - Weddings -". CostHelper. 
  10. ^ a b "The Wedding Report". 
  11. ^ Heidemann, Kai,University of Pittsburgh Sociology of Marriage Lecture, 2009
  12. ^ Michelle Hall and Lizzie Jury, CNN Library (9 August 2013). "I do ... cost a lot: Weddings by the numbers". CNN. 
  13. ^ The Wedding Report: 2006
  14. ^ Panos Mourdoukoutas. "Information for the World's Business Leaders". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Lea Goldman and Tatiana Serafin (12 July 2007). "In Pictures: The 20 Most Expensive Celebrity Weddings". Forbes. 
  17. ^ Lea Goldman and Tatiana Serafin (12 July 2007). "In Pictures: The 20 Most Expensive Celebrity Weddings". Forbes. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b "Honeymoon Planning, New Jersey Bride, Wedding Statistics". 
  20. ^ Susan Breslow Sardone. "Wedding & Honeymoon Facts & Figures". About.