'Wedding-nomics,' the pricetag on love

Feb 14, 2014

From the moment you slip on the ring, and in some cases, years before, the wedding march begins.

It’s a dizzying dance of planning, budgeting and buying. It happens so quickly, we rarely pause to see what it means.

Today, we’ll walk you down the aisle, as we examine the wedding industry and its effects on the local economy.

It’s wedding-nomics, the price tag on love.  

The business of weddings

Piece of Cake owners Cate Cisco and Christie White say that blogs and sites like Pinterest have changed the kinds of cakes they are sending out the door.  Brides are asking for more personalization, like monogramming, and intricate details. Prices have increased about $1.50 per slice, White said, since the bakery first got started 16 years ago.

Wedding planner and self-described "event engineer" Saundra Hadley says Pinterest has been helpful for her business, but she sometimes has to recommend clients to "edit." Hadley defends the wedding industry and explains pricing depends on experience and how much a vendor thinks their service is worth. Hadley also shares her insight on how much weddings and planners have evolved since she got into the business a decade ago, and in particular, how  vendors are marketing themselves as "gay friendly" for same-sex couples planning a wedding. 

Icing on the statistics

While I was researching the numbers on wedding costs for this show, I noticed that the numbers seemed extremely high. They do, however, vary somewhat depending on region. For example, couples on average spend $21,000 in Vanderburgh County, $28,000 in Warrick County and $20,000 in Henderson County. But when I saw the figures,  it still seemed astronomical, even prohibitive.

Then I came across an article published in Slate Magazine about a year ago about how wedding industry publications report the “average” cost of weddings, rather than the median, which would be a more accurate indicator when looking at how much people typically spend.

So I called the writer, Will Oremus, to hear how he puzzled through the statistics in his article.

Tying the knot

In this final segment, Evansville business owner Alex Jarvis tells the story about his engagement to Robert Owen. The couple married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, and returned to Evansville for an elaborate reception with friends, family and colleagues.

Here's the full interview:

Looking at weddings exclusively from an economic lens is obviously a limiting perspective. It's a social construction. So I invited a sociologist, Dr. Ronda Priest, to help explain what this age-old ceremony means, and why we assign so much value to it.

If you liked a song you heard on today’s program, here’s the playlist:

“Wedding Song” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“A New Life” – Jim James

“Wow What a Wedding Cake” – Beethoven’s Wig

“The Bride” – The Dirty Projectors