Wedding Industry Confidential

Physician's Money Digest, July 2006, Volume 13, Issue 7

My daughter got married acouple of weeks ago. Asimple, if momentous, act.But for those of you who have hadthe privilege of staging one of theseevents for a beloved daughter, youwill nod silently while I describe thegiant boondoggle that is the weddingindustry and the impact on the familyexchequer of putting on a weddingin this day and age.

Think about it; there is rarely anyrepeat business with any of the vendorsinvolved, and even if you hire apricey wedding planner, you are facinghundreds of hours of work on aproject with intricacies you don'treally understand. Emotions run high,and everyone is tacitly committed tospending more on this party than anyother you are likely to throw, so thereare scanty checks and balances involved.Even if you are firm in yourresolve to hold the line on your budget,the whole process is tacked againstyou. Just the words "wedding" and"bridal" immediately jack up the pricefor food, flowers, music, invitations,the venue, the dresses, and on it goes.

There are a few other non-PC butvery real aspects. First of all, in our culture,people are often socialized to afantasy about their wedding day.Second, when our closest friends andfamily are so involved, we want to doa good job and make sure that theyenjoy themselves.

Father of the Bride

To give a couple of examples ofhow the wedding industry uses yourvulnerability, you're looking at invitationsand the salesperson asks whetheryou want them printed on white paperor on lovely ivory stock? Of courseyou want the nicer stock, and whileyou are at it, the beautiful hand-donecalligraphy or else it won't "look right."And what's another few hundred dollarshere or there? Remember in themovie when theDad is confronted with the choice forthe dinner between seafood and the"chipper" (cheaper) chicken? Underthe imagined disappointment of yourloved ones, how can you pick thechipper chicken? Multiply this decision-making process and the attendantcost increases myriad times. It adds upso fast that I stopped asking howmuch everything cost.

Yes, I know there are many happyways to put on a wedding and to savea buck. There are a surprising numberof books alone on how best to navigatethese new-to-you waters. And, yes, ourfamily had a great party, and we arecrazy about our new son-in-law—andthe stock market is up to ease the pain.But I will never again go to a big eventsuch as a wedding and take it one littlebit for granted.