Lifestyle Magazine

The Business of Weddings: the Shift to Thrift

By Claire

In 2013, the cost of a wed­ding is set to fall. Again. Whereas in 2007, the aver­age cost of a wed­ding was around the £22,000 mark, 2013 will see wed­ding spend dip down towards the £16,000 mark.

What’s fas­ci­nat­ing about this is that the eco­nomic down­turn has really focused the happy cou­ples’ minds on dri­ving down the over­all cost of the wed­ding, and it’s really focused the wed­ding indus­try on pro­vid­ing added value in a tur­bu­lent eco­nomic period. The trend is not nec­es­sar­ily towards less lav­ish wed­dings – the trend is towards get­ting the best price for every sin­gle item on the list.

More and more peo­ple are cut­ting down the costs of sta­tionery, for exam­ple, by doing it all them­selves. Stag and Hen par­ties have taken a hit, and wed­ding plan­ners are increas­ingly being sought not for the whole she­bang, but for dif­fer­ent aspects of the wed­ding, such as find­ing the venue, sourc­ing musi­cians, or even the flowers.

It’s still a £10bn indus­try, even if it’s not really new

Last year, Hitched claimed that the Wed­ding Indus­try (I’ve used cap­i­tals because it’s that big) is worth £10bn. Their fig­ures were based not just on the spend­ing of the bride and groom, but on the col­lec­tive: every­one who attends a wed­ding has to spend money, at some point: clothes, travel, gifts, stag & hen par­ties… this brings the total cost of a wed­ding up to £36,127 on average.

How­ever, it’s how this £10bn indus­try is re-shaping itself that is of par­tic­u­lar inter­est. Look at the Amer­i­can ver­sion of Dragon’s Den, Shark Tank, and the founder of Nearly New­ly­Wed, Jackie Court­ney. Her pitch to the ‘sharks’ was for 10% of a busi­ness that sold second-hand wed­ding dresses.

The sharks were ret­i­cent, but Court­ney is part of a grow­ing mar­ket – the ‘pre-loved’, ‘nearly-new’, or let’s be brazen about it, the ‘second-hand’ wed­ding mar­ket. Her exam­ple was an $11,000 wed­ding dress that sold second-hand for $3,800.

For a dress that you only ever wear once, a third of the orig­i­nal price is tempt­ing. What’s more, you can sell the dress back to the retailer after­wards for half of the price. This turns it effec­tively into a rental ser­vice (in all but name), mean­ing that the busi­ness has near con­stant inven­tory, choice and margin.

Over here in the UK, there are hun­dreds of web­sites where brides and grooms alike can sell their wed­ding goods, from dresses to suits, bridesmaid’s dresses, acces­sories and more. This is an indus­try respond­ing to the eco­nomic down­turn by appeal­ing to the thrifti­ness of the nation (and equally, their desire for a lav­ish celebration).

Along with these oppor­tu­ni­ties to save money, brides are turn­ing to tech­nol­ogy to help them save time and money on plan­ning their wed­ding.

Even the insur­ers are in on the act

We love a bit of insur­ance in the UK. We’ll insure any­thing that moves, and what’s more, we’ll insure any­thing that doesn’t move. There­fore, it’s no sur­prise that wed­ding insur­ance is increas­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Cur­rently, 47% of brides take out insur­ance, at an aver­age of £24.23. This cov­ers loss of the rings, fail­ure of sup­pli­ers to deliver, stress coun­selling (yes, stress coun­selling), and way more beyond this. The big­gie, of course, is cancellation.

It’s no sur­prise, really, given the expense involved, that some kind of insur­ance is pro­posed, but the bur­geon­ing mar­ket in wed­ding insur­ance is proof that these ris­ing costs need to be protected.

We’re get­ting thriftier; we’re doing things our­selves. We’re hir­ing wed­ding plan­ners who can dip-in and dip-out of the plan­ning process. We’re insur­ing our­selves. We’re even wear­ing some­one else’s wed­ding dress.

Times have changed, and the wed­ding indus­try is mov­ing with them.

Today’s guest blog­ger Thomas Sid­dle, is an expe­ri­enced wed­ding indus­try and
wed­ding plan­ning writer for Only Wed­dings: expert wed­ding plan­ners based in
Buck­ing­hamshire, UK.

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