Financial Lessons Learned at the Bridal Show

bridal show cakes

This past weekend I went to the annual bridal expo with a friend who is getting married soon. As my wedding was many years ago, I was astounded to see how far the bridal industry has come. Or maybe I should say I was astounded to see how far the bridal industry will go (to separate people from their money, that is).

As we walked amongst the booths, I found myself thinking that this expo was a microcosm of what’s wrong with our economy and the “spend at all costs” mentality in this country. At one booth we were cheerfully informed that the average wedding now costs $28,000. The consultant went on to explain that this sum of money would buy you an average wedding. To have a


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17 Responses to Financial Lessons Learned at the Bridal Show

  1. Patrick says:

    I am going to be attending one of these in the near future. Very helpful. Any suggestions on what to do instead of going there? Just don’t bring any forms of ID’s or credit cards right??

  2. Jay Gatsby says:

    My wife and I got married last year, and this post couldn’t be more accurate. She dragged me to multiple wedding shows over the year of our engagement, and everything is completely true.

    Our wedding did cost approximately $30,000, but we’re in our 30s and could afford it (although our respective parents did contribute as well and did so also because they wanted to and could afford it).

  3. Christine says:

    Here’s a clue.

    Those vendors are there to market their products or services. You have the right to tell them to sod off.

    Any bride too immature or too insecure to know her own mind or desires before she starts to plan her wedding is not mentally prepared to marry in the first place.

    For your own security, may I suggest that you never read a magazine, watch TV or surf the internet. You may find yourself exposed to businesses interested in marketing to you. Their goal, after all, is to convince you to part with your money in exchange for what they have to offer.

  4. just me says:

    Thats not a bridal show, thats the twilight zone!!

  5. That’s such crap! I’m so glad I never went to a bridal expo.

    Our wedding was under $5,000 but very nice and memorable. We had a sit down dinner and a live band, pretty much all the trimmings. But we did it by relying on local talent and skipping bridal stores for just about everything other than clothing. We also did a lot of stuff ourselves.

    I’ve had friends and family that had much smaller weddings and theirs were still nice and memorable.

    Most guests don’t care about favors. I don’t need more clutter, especially something personalized with someone elses’ wedding date. We just told people that they could take the candles that we had bought and used for decoration. (They were very happy about that.)

    The scary thing is that I’ve heard some brides say that they expect to recoup their costs with gifts and even make money, which is why they want to go all out. Of course, I think that’s dumb on many levels. Weddings shouldn’t be about making money, but it’s also a pretty bad way to make money, especially if you don’t know anything about business. My experience is that brides overestimate the amount they get in money, and even with registries, don’t get the gifts they wanted/expected.

  6. Cortni says:

    wow- I can’t believe that wedding planner that encouraged women to plan for their wedding instead of their marriage! But she’s probably thinking that if people actually follow that advice, they will probably be in need of her service again to plan their 2nd wedding since their first one ended in divorce.

  7. Carolina Bound says:

    I think the trouble with these shows is not that they are just marketing their products — they are setting a false standard. Most of their customers have not put on a wedding before, so they are vulnerable to insinuations that they are not going to do it right; they are going to be tacky in some way; they are going to embarrass themselves. In my opinion this is not marketing, it is unconscionable manipulation.

  8. Shannon says:

    Wow! That is a bit over the top. I hope your friend told the vendors who kept talking about the wedding being forgettable that she and her fiance are the only ones who really need to remember it!

    That said, the most memorable weddings I have been to were not the ones where the couple spent the most but the ones where they tried to save money and, as a result, wound up with very creative and personal ceremonies, often on their parents’ property.

  9. Hilary says:

    In many ways, I think this post sums up how women have been viewed for the last 50 years. “Make your family happy with a Color TV!”, “Buy a Microwave and dinner is easy!”, “This cream makes you look 10 years younger!”. And of course, how could we even imagine a man helping to plan the wedding? Why would HE care?

    I hate how I endlessly hear about how women are so financially irresponsible, and yet we’ve been groomed to be concerned with appearance, clothing, and now apparently weddings. I’ve been told “Are you a woman?” because I didn’t paint my toenails. And then, of course, I hear financial planners telling me how debt happens when people “Buy dresses at the mall and don’t think about the price,” as if men don’t also get into credit card debt.

    Women are constantly being socialized to think of themselves as great consumers, and also financially irresponsible (which is, of course, good for vendors). I am sick to death of it.

  10. baselle says:

    That’s why we call it the wedding-industrial complex.

  11. cptacek says:

    We just got married at the end of January. We had a full Mass, 5 attendants each, 325 guests, an open bar, a meal for all the guests, a dance until midnight and a week long honeymoon. It cost us about $8500, including the honeymoon.

    My mom, his mom and I have all had wonderful compliments on how much everyone enjoyed the wedding, how classy it was, how beautiful it was, how much fun people had. And we didn’t even have favors, let alone cheap ones!

    Now, I am 30, so I pretty much knew in my mind what I wanted and if a vendor at the one bridal show I went to tried to pressure me to buy something, and I thought it was silly, I practically laughed at them. I was just there to get pictures of the decorations so we could make them ourselves!

    I personally think that people started putting so much emphasis on weddings and not so much on the marriage when people stopped inviting God into their preparation and marriage. If there really is no difference for the couple between living together and being married, then all you are having is a big fancy party.

  12. Boo31 says:

    I was to go to one of these bridal expos and my best friend was very ill and in the hospital–I’m glad, after reading this I did not go.

    My husband and I planned our whole wedding by ourselves with some help from the internet and my best friend, one of my maids of honor. We sent out invitations (I printed on my home printer), we planned the ceremony to the reception with the help of our hostess and DJ. We had all of the music picked out.

    We found a reception hall a few towns away from us that had an outside garden. This is where our wedding was held, with the DJ playing the music. The DJ, the wedding cake and a Limo came with the package. Our photographer was a friend of ours from work.

    For Our wedding ceremony, I made a disc from my computer due to the fact I did not want any glitches in the music for the ceremony. I included what is called a Rose ceremony.
    Our wedding was May 29, 2004 and to this day people still talk about our wedding. We had an H’orderve reception and an open bar. Everyone enjoyed themselves–lots of dancing and having fun–it was simple. I think simple is the best way to go.

    We spent $5,700.00 on my gown, his tucks, the wedding/reception package and a night in a hotel. We also had to pay our JP and the extra music outside for the ceremony.

    We had our wedding we will never forget. Our marriage gets better and better everyday.

  13. My wife is the matron of honor for her sisters wedding. I swear I could write a book on the two of them bickering back and forth about what to spend, etc… I thought they were over reacting, but when I saw a $4000 wedding cake I almost passed out! YIKES!!

    Ben @ Trees Full of Money

  14. Pingback: Monroe on a Budget » Blog Archive » Weddings on a budget: Financial lessons from a bridal show

  15. Gail says:

    I found it very interesting that the last wedding I went to that was a hugely elaborate affair, took 5 months to receive a thank you note for the gift we did give them! When my hubby and I got married 6 years ago it cost us about $2000 and the thank you notes were all out within 3 weeks. There is no excuse to not send out a thank you note within a reasonable amount of time.

  16. Rob says:

    Wonderful post! I actually just finished adding something similar to my blog this morning and then stumbled on your post.

    I could not agree more with what you wrote.

    With all due respect to Christine, there is a difference between good marketing and predatory practices.

  17. Amanda says:

    I just stumbled upon this blog…much later than it was written, I know. I’m not sure where this show took place, but I am familiar with that scene. I also wanted to mention that not every bridal show/expo is like this. As a wedding photographer, I do advertise at bridal shows. However, I do not push any bride into anything or make her feel guilty for not booking with me. I provide the information and show my work, and leave the decision to her. Brides want to come to these shows to learn what is available out there, not to be hounded into feeling guilty. People that run their shows this way are ridiculous. My main point is that not ALL bridal expos are this way, and not ALL vendors that participate in bridal expos are this way.

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