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On Not Buying into the
Wedding Industry

by Carol Reed-Jones

The wedding industry is a $32 billion-a-year business.  Many of the businesses have good products and services that marrying couples need. The operative word is need. A notice I received for a seminar for bridal business professionals was very enlightening.  The various session topics and their descriptions were as follows:

  • Seven Reasons why you can make money in a growing wedding market. The wedding industry is estimated at more than $32 billion a year.  You can increase your share if you know why brides are in a 'buying frenzy'.
  • Overcoming Objections--Brides have all sorts of reasons why not to buy from you. They always are in a state of sticker shock and always raise the key objection of money. Find out how to use proven techniques that work with brides to overcome this basic objection and all the other reasons not to buy.
  • Closing the Sale--The hardest part of getting the business. Some closing techniques work better for brides because of the emotions involved in a wedding. Explore the techniques specifically developed to make the bride want to buy from you. Learn the psychology of making the bride want to say 'Yes!'.

Again, many of these professionals have services you can use. The thing is to distinguish between want and need. Last year, a groom decided to give his fiancé the wedding of her dreams. He went to various businesses and got them to sponsor the wedding. (This was on TV; did everybody see this?) Invitations had the name of the printer and other sponsors. Ditto for the wedding programs and place cards at the reception. The sponsors evidently hoped to gain some advertising and the business of paying customers who had sampled the catered food and wedding cake, seen the invitations, heard the music at the reception, etc. It worked for the couple, but I have a better solution: marry someone who doesn't require a wedding that costs tens of thousands of dollars. 

Here are some green ways to cut wedding costs:

  • Select a venue where you can have both wedding and reception. Avoid holidays, when rates may be higher; inquire about reduced rates for certain seasons, dates. Shop around. You may be able to have a beautiful wedding in a friend or family member's garden.
  • Hire a single musician for both ceremony and reception: an organist or pianist who can play anything from light classical to jazz at the reception.
  • Consider doing your own food or having a potluck reception. If you hire caterers, see if you can reduce costs with a vegetarian menu, or by supplying some of the food. Bake your own cake (see Green Weddings for recipes, or Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible if you're not vegan).
  • Choose only in-season flowers.  Consider growing your own (the organic option!), or purchasing them wholesale from the floral department of a grocer's (these will be sprayed with pesticides; don't put on or near food). Arrange your own flowers; check out library books on flower arranging to see if this is feasible for you.
  • Save on wedding clothes by: renting, borrowing or buying secondhand; wearing heirloom wedding clothes; buying gowns, tuxes and attendants' clothes at sales at bridal fairs (check newspapers, local bridal publications for dates and locations) or at clearance sales; find women's dresses and men's suits and shoes on sale in department stores and outlet malls around January, May and August. Know what you're looking for, and refuse to pay retail!
  • Save on your honeymoon by: not going to the moon, and using some of that money for a down payment on a house. Seriously, consider a regional honeymoon close by. Or if you decide to travel a distance, see if you can time your departure for a day of the week when air rates are lower.
    One couple discovered that if they took a bus to a large metropolitan airport an hour away, instead of flying from their home town airport, they saved about $100 apiece on airfare.
Use the professionals of the wedding industry to help you have an unforgettable day, not an unforgettable debt.

Carol Reed-Jones is the author of Green Weddings That Don't Cost the Earth, by Carol Reed-Jones. (Paper Crane Press, 1996)

Copyright © 1999-2000 Carol Reed-Jones

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