Friday, April 10, 2009

The Price of Marriage

Ah, the wedding industry. My fiancee and I are in the midst of this dance and dealing with the shock and awe of sticker shock. Despite the economy, we haven't seen a massive price reduction in the San Francisco Bay Area among venues, caterers or other services. You'd figure, given the 10% unemployment rate in California, that wedding services might show greater price flexibility. Here are my theories about why we're not experiencing bargains.

1. It's still the Bay Area
All those hills, beaches, forests and vineyards provide enough of a compelling backdrop that demand remains high. I spoke to a wedding coordinator yesterday at a local winery who said despite the bad economy, people still want to spend a lot of money getting married.

2. Expectations for a 2010 recovery
Some venues are giving deals 2009, but returning to their original prices in 2010. It's an interesting dynamic because both consumers and vendors anticipate greater spending next year. If you're desperate for a deal, throw a wedding in December 2009.

3. Maybe I'm just a bad negotiator?
This crosses my mind a lot. Maybe I'm giving in too easily. I should turn over my duties to Ellen, who negotiates for a living. I hope she's reading this. But, I bet the real reason why the wedding industry refuses to budge is because of the next point.

4. They're all in cahoots
Every month, a cabal of caterers, wedding venues and photographers meet to fix prices and gouge consumers. "This month we're going to double the price of halibut!"

On a separate note, this is a funny visualization that I stumbled upon the other day. It shows what kind of engagement ring people of various incomes can afford to buy based on two months of their annual salary. I had no idea lifeguards could afford such nice rings!


  1. I read in a book once when you are calling to get prices, you should say it's for a retirement party... then drop the bomb that it's actually a wedding after you get the prices! not a bad idea, but I didn't have the courage to do it!

  2. I've heard that too and I also don't have the cojones to hoodwink the place. I wonder if anyone has succeeded in doing so.

  3. The wife of one of our engineers is a fabulous wedding photographer...Lisa Neighbors

    I'm never getting married again, but I'd use her if I were :)