Where are Brides Cutting Costs? Splashing Out?


We all know that throwing a nice wedding can run to a lot of money. All the same, the overall national average price tag is on a small downward spiral. According to a new study by The Wedding Report, the average wedding budget fell 3.4% in 2011 compared to 2012. When the numbers are adjusted for inflation, the drop is nearly 6%.

Of course, this is an average of a lot of disparate celebrations, and nobody expects anyone to choose how and where to spend their money according to it. Still, some interesting trends do start to stand out.

One place where couples are cutting their budgets is gifts to attendants, family members, and guests. Attendant gifts, parents’ gifts, tips, and guest favors all took a significant tumble in 2011. Attendant gifts took the biggest hit at a 49% drop in average cost.

Beauty and spa services also took a significant hit. Hair, makeup, and manicures/pedicures all went down. Most paper goods also went down in price. From invitations to save the dates to engagement announcements to place cards to programs and menus, couples spent less money on them. The one exception in this category was postage, which went up by 17.6%.

Flowers are being trimmed back, but other decorations are a rising cost. Music services were scaled back. Interestingly to me, wedding rings dropped in cost by 36.7% and engagement ring costs fell by 6.8%.

But some things also rose dramatically. Ceremony and reception sites went up in a big way. Most photography services rose. Full service wedding planning went up 39.8%.

So what does it all mean for you? Well, knowing which businesses have been hardest hit can mean you’ll find some vendors who are willing to deal a little bit for either a small discount or an extra small service to sweeten the pot. But beware of businesses willing to slash their prices too dramatically or give you the moon for free. A florist who offers one free corsage if you place a large order is one that is behaving professionally. One that offers orchids at the price of carnations… I’d be extra careful about getting referrals at that point.

It also means that services in high demand might well start to go up in base price simply because vendors know they can get what they’re asking.

If you started researching prices this time last year, you might want to double check that those figures are still close to accurate now.

But ultimately, what matters to you is your individual budget vs your individual tastes. So what if other women are spending more on wedding gowns and dessert? If your priority is flowers and invitations or gifts, then that’s where you should put your money.

It’s useful to know what the averages are, but it’s in no way required that you share the same priorities as other couples.

2 Responses to “Where are Brides Cutting Costs? Splashing Out?”

  1. Jaf Gifts says:

    Women can cost cut on other stuff but not with their dress I suppose. Wedding dresses are just important to brides. Flowers and other miscellaneous costs can be trimmed down. Venue and catering however, are huge expenses in weddings.

  2. Twistie says:

    @Jaf Gifts: Ah, but that assumes the only way to get a wedding gown is to go to a bridal salon and pay full price there. The truth is there are lots of options for a creative bride to cut the cost of the wedding gown, if that’s where she chooses to tighten the purse strings. From sample sales (for those who fit the samples!) to thrift or consignment store finds to getting a white bridesmaid’s dress to making a gown themselves to rental or even borrowing, there’s always a way to save a few bucks if you keep your mind open to possibilities.

    Venue and catering? Again, they are usually large expenses, yes. You need someplace to hold the event and you do need to feed the people you invite. Still, booking off-season or at a time when there’s often a lull in bookings can save you a nice chunk of change. Careful thought about what foods to serve will allow couples to save a buck or two here and there without inconveniencing the guests. Limiting the choices of alcohol is perfectly polite and will save you cash.

    In short, wherever a couple chooses to shave the budget, chances are they can find a way to do it successfully.