Wedding Industry

wedding fix by Kelsey Dake

Every year in the United States, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings, and the wedding industry has grown into a $40 billion a year market. The wedding industry is a modern phenomenon. In the past, women were viewed as possessions and sold as wives; today, couples spend thousands of dollars to have their ideal of the perfect day of union.

Until the Middle Ages, the Wedding ceremony or betrothal involved of the exchange of a ring or a piece of fruit, a kiss, and then the bride moved into the groom’s home. Today however, the ceremonial aspect of marriage has become more extravagant and more detailed. The average couple will spend up to $4,411 for the engagement ring, and $2,067 for his and hers wedding bands, and the average American couple today spends more than $20,000 on their wedding. For a middle class family, this can be about 51 percent of their income.

In ancient times men would capture their wives from neighboring tribes, and the marriage relationship took on a persona of the man being the victorious slave owner and the woman as the defeated enemy forced to work and bear children. Later, marriage developed into an actual industry where women were sold as wives for cattle, grain, or other valuable goods. It was not until the Roman civilization that women were allowed to choose who they married. Marriages were also a way to secure peace and form alliances between families, tribes, or even nations. This type of marriage was known as a Marriage of state and played a heavy role in the history of the world. A prime example of this is the marriage of King Henry VIII of England to Catherine of Aragon, Spain in 1509; this wedding formed an alliance between Spain and England. King Henry the VIII also used this alliance to invade France. Using marriage to climb the social ladder has been used throughout history and in each economic class.

The wedding industry evolved into the capitalist enterprise that we know today between the 1920s to 1950s, and many of our traditions today were developed during this time by advertisements and promotions from major retailers, jewelers, caterers, and other companies. This industry is atypical of U.S. companies in that it is made up of many small parts, and many of them are local. There is no one major company that provides all the services for a wedding but several that generally have to be contacted, scheduled, and paid for separately; making the planning and organization of the modern wedding very complicated. In the 1960s and 1970s brides started to deviate from the original wedding plan, and moved the wedding outside of the church. This developed the idea of the ‘destination wedding,’ and is still very popular today.

When the wedding ceremony has an issue, such as a lost or damaged wedding dress or tuxedo, a couple may purchase wedding insurance to pay to replace such garments. Other instances that can be covered by wedding insurance are lost deposits, lost rings, severe weather, cancellations of the ceremony based on illnesses or military service, transportation issues and insurance for the venue. However, it does not cover cancellations that are due to cold feet, and problems that a couple knew about before they took out a policy. In the U.S., the average wedding dress costs $1,075. On average, a bride will spend about 6 percent of her budget on her dress.The bridal gown industry relies mainly on bridal magazines for advertising. In recent years, more frugal or eco-friendly brides have started a new trend of buying preowned wedding dresses. This can save a bride 30 to 60% off retail prices.

The locations of wedding receptions vary due to factors such as climate, finances, family tradition, and many other reasons. The wedding industry provides a wide variety of places to celebrate a new betrothal from a Las Vegas casino to a beach in the Caribbean. The depth of a couples pocket books coincides with uniqueness and grandeur of the location. An example of the extravagance of a wedding locations is when Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes in Odescalchi Castle in Italy. The white dress is a standard for modern wedding, but before 1840 brides wore whatever nice dress they had or could make. It was until the marriage of Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in her satin white dress that the fad of dawning a similar dress became the ordinary. The size and grandeur of a wedding reception can be an indicator of a couple’s social status or the one they would like to portray. The amount of guests, quality of the food and drinks, location, and who plays the music can all symbolize the wealth and presumed status of the newly weds. The reception can be an opportunity to flaunt wealth and impress guests (friends and family). This can lead to couples and/or parents spending an excessive amount of money and even putting themselves into debt to pay for the wedding.

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