Uhhhh... I absolutely hate when the media uncritically (or at least without context/a disclaimer) parrots The Kont's "Real Weddings Survey" as meaningful, because, IMO, this number is somewhere between very misleading and complete bullshit.
-Selection bias - only includes people who sign up for wedding websites, (or in the case of Brides magazine’s “American Wedding Study,” subscribe to wedding magazines) which, by definition, excludes people who have reasonably priced weddings. People whose weddings are a BBQ in the backyard aren't signing up for wedding websites and subscribing to wedding magazines.
-Reporting on average without including median, which is much, much less. One million dollar wedding can skew the average very high, and like I said before, the low side isn't even included in the data set to offset the Chelsea Clintons.
-Conflict of interest - the wedding industry itself is the only one reporting these figures and the wedding industry has a vested interest in reporting astronomical numbers because it gets you primed to spend spend spend.
At the end of the day, this article isn't investigative journalism. It's not different from articles where they obtain a quote from an email or phone call with a university professor on some topic, without a critical analysis of that professor's research focus, conflicts of interest, etc.
So little jounalistic quality/scientific integrity.
My wedding reception was a huge party at our house (we have a big house that can accommodate tons of people) and the total cost was maybe $300(?) in food and booze, perhaps a little more, but definitely less than $500. If our house wasn't big enough renting the Italian American Club that's down the street for a day couldn't cost more than a few hundred dollars. The ceremony itself was just the two of us signing some papers in an office at city hall the total cost $100 for the JP and ~$30 for the registration fee. I couldn't imagine signing up for wedding website. Why on earth would I want to? What would I get from it? "inspiration" for toppings on the pizza we ordered? A discussion on the merits of cherry tomatoes vs grape tomatoes in the toss salad?
I had plenty of time to plan a wedding. I knew I was getting married: After all, I moved to a different country a few weeks later.
But what the heck would I use a bridal magazine for? Why would I want to sign up for a wedding website? We didn't even have presents nor a ceremony. Just some folks together in my mothers backyard.
Granted, we sorely missed out on having folks come in costume, but that's quite alright.
Disclaimer: My spouse and I also missed out on a hollywood wedding -- we were in grad school at the time, and didn't want to spend any of our families' money. And I am now in the wedding industry, as a musician playing in what I would call "low budget" bands, typically for people who are on their second wedding.
I would mention here that I really don't think I "missed out" on the whole fancy wedding, but "luckily was able to avoid it" :)
I don't think it's too hard to understand why. A lot of it is cultural inertia, some of it rather sexist. There's a strong notion that this is "her day", as if the rest of her life is going to be "somebody else's day". But even if she does escape the worst of the indoctrination, there are a lot of people who want to plan a once-in-a-lifetime party for a once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully) event. The dream about that is on par with dreaming about what you'll do with your lottery tickets, or planning your next vacation, enjoyable on its own merits even aside from the event itself.
Not everybody will buy into that; clearly you didn't. But I don't think it's unreasonable that other people do. It's just another form of entertainment.
So I think the general spirit of your assessment is correct, I still think it's a false assumption. Also, where do you live that you can supply food and booze for a huge party for $300?! :)
$300 for the wedding.
The money saved went towards mortgage downpayment.
Because people have extremely high expectations for the major expenses of a wedding (venue, flowers, band, etc.).
The joke (and I even see it here) is that you can go to a baker and say "I want a cake" and they'll say "$20" but if you say "it's for a wedding" the price becomes $100. Why? Because if one iota of that cake is decorated incorrectly, the baker will hear hell about it - maybe not from your wedding party, but for every reasonable wedding party there are 99 expecting perfection.
So, it's not a huge surprise to me that wedding vendors have been hard to disrupt - it seems logical to assume that mass market usually comes with a reduction in quality compared to bespoke (or at least a bespoke-like experience), and people mostly refuse that and are willing to pay a huge premium for weddings (begrudgingly, admittedly).
Most regular cakes are small affairs. If you go to that same baker and ask for a 3-tier, ornately decorated cake that will feed at least 50-100 people and has a keepsake decoration on top, it'll be more.
Cakes like that are a different beast. They require special recipes so they don't collapse themselves. I know professional bakeries are able to spend less time than I did making my sister's wedding cake - a 3-tier affair - but they are still a decent amount of work and effort. Doubly so if you are paying the baker to transport and assemble the cake.
So yeah, of course wedding cakes are expensive, depending on the bells and whistles. But so are equally decadent cakes with the bells and whistles.
I, however, did not go that route :)
Of course our wedding was in the morning, and later that day there was a story published in several newspapers about a couple that had managed to get married on 11/12/13 at 14:15.
I'm still amazed that didn't occur to me!
Truthfully, the part the guests largely enjoy is the reception (which is often indoors anyway), so it's really not a bad idea at all.
I would compare it more to, a regular cake has like, 2 9's SLA of being what you wanted. But for a wedding cake, people want 5 9's. They want enterprise Cake, that's always available and exactly as they expected.
So that's what they pay for. If I was working with a vendor, a plain-old regular cake with 2 9's availability would be fine for me. I'm unwilling to pay 4x as much for something, just to chase a very diminishing improvement.
You're paying them to absorb that stress and ensure that everything's perfect without having to manage them. It's me saying - I need exactly this, at this exact time, on this exact date, in this exact location. I need it perfect, no ifs ands or buts, no excuses, no reasons, no failures. Perfect. Period.
When providing this level of expectation, when any kind of failure or indeed anything less than absolute perfection is not an option, when there's no chances for do-overs, the stress load that comes with providing that is huge.
I'm not in the wedding planning business, but I'm a service provider in the tech market. As a service provider, if you want me to absorb that level of stress so that you don't even have to think about it, I'm capable, I can and I will absorb all of it. I will shield you from it all and show up with exactly what you ask, exactly when you need it, no failures, no excuses. But you're going to pay for the stress that causes me... and it doesn't come cheap. But it is dependable.
There's a reason you have a wedding planner for your perfect day and they're not just charging you for their planning skills. You're paying them for absorbing all the stress so that you just have to show up and have enjoy your fairy tale day.
You can only live under that kind of stress load for a finite period. Most people crumble in days or weeks. Forget lasting months or years. Eventually everyone breaks. Do you really want to break before your big day?
If you don't want to pay so much, you have to be prepared to throw out your expectations and go for something more relaxed. If relaxed is your bag (it is mine), then you won't have to pay 5 9's prices because you're not putting everyone under the pressure of delivering perfection.
As I mentioned in another comment, I know a couple that substituted cupcakes in place of cake. Not only are cupcakes way easier to make than a multi-tiered cake, but they're quicker to serve, so guests aren't standing around waiting for dessert.
Even though you'd still have stipulation of "the cupcakes must be at this time and place", surely it's much easier to deliver on that. I bet they saved a bit on dessert costs.
Like you say, very little needs 5 9s. Many people want that and get their hopes up to be able to expect that and then complain about the price without thinking about the level of stress that puts on everyone.
My Mum baked and decorated my cake. She's not a baker, she's not a cake decoration specialist. She's just my Mum. I wanted the cake that reminded me of my childhood and that's exactly what I got. I knew she could do it, she's done it a thousand times in my life. It was never going to be perfect. It never needed to be perfect, yet it was perfect to me. I didn't care what anyone else thought. It served exactly the purpose I needed it to - I needed it to be a piece of who I am. It was comfort food - my Mum's cake. That was everything to me... and it was free.
My best friend's Mum from when I was a kid was like a 2nd Mum to me. She's been a florist my whole life. I asked her for flowers and gave her free reign on making the place look pretty. No stipulations, no expectations. She did a wonderful job with flowers she already had to hand and she loved doing it. She only charged me for her costs.
Which is an absolutely crazy notion, but I don't see why we can't apply our learnings from things like managing AWS costs (on demand instances vs. pre-emptible instances) to wedding supplies.
> I don't know if I believe the price goes up that much because of the fear of [an overly zealous wedding party member]
> But for a wedding cake, people want 5 9's. They want enterprise Cake, that's always available and exactly as they expected.
I see those two things as related, I guess. Nobody knows the difference between 2 9's and 5 9's until the service goes down or something goes unexpectedly.
> If I was working with a vendor, a plain-old regular cake with 2 9's availability would be fine for me.
Unfortunately for the vendor, since you're not ever going to be a repeat customer they have no idea which type of customer you are and have to assume you want 5 9's even if you're saying otherwise - or that you want 5 9's for the 2 9's price. The opposite of a lemon market, I suppose (a peach market?).
Look at it from their perspective: The worst case scenario is they give you the 2 9's price but you expect the 5 9's and complain loudly when you don't get that.
I should have set the premise up a little better: I can go to my local supermarket (2 9s) and order several cakes of different sizes, and get a fancy serving tray, to get the multi-tiered cake appearance that's classically what I think of, when I think wedding cake.
If my supermarket doesn't give me exactly what I want, nobody would really care, since most people don't go to supermarkets to by Enterprise Cake. They go with a more specialized vendor (5 9s).
You can go to a specialized cake vendor and still get a 2 9s cake - many people do, in fact, for special non-wedding events (for, say, a 60th birthday). That cake will still be significantly less expensive than if you tell the specialized cake vendor it's for a wedding.
Enterprise cake comes in many flavors :).
Nobody paid attention to the background or bothered to frame things well, even when they had us pose for photos. My mother-in-law sent us an enlarged photo featuring an ugly old statue... oh, and us too. It looked like a photo taken to commemorate our trip to visit a statue.
Mind you, I do shoot corporate events and other things (concerts, sports) from time to time unpaid. If someone wanted to pay me to do something like that I'd be happy to. Especially with digital these days, I'm very confident I'll produce something very publishable.
This is very important to keep in mind. Never mention that you are working on organizing a wedding. Renting chairs? It's just for a party. Getting flowers? It's for a birthday. Vendors will almost always apply a huge markup when they hear "wedding".
You usually sign pretty tight contracts/agreements for a wedding, less-so for a birthday party.
It goes both ways. The vendor can also decide they don't want to deal with a customer who's being intentionally dishonest with them.
It's quite simple for them to just refund your deposit/money and leave you without a florist a week before your wedding, especially since you didn't sign the type of two-way "binding" (I'm using that term loosely here) agreement that you do with a wedding.
I spoke to several vendors in the course of my research who handled situations like that in exactly that manner, for what it's worth. In one case the vendor arrived at the venue on the day-of, realized it was a wedding, and straight up just turned around and went home. Another basically required a "security deposit" that would be returned once the vendor confirmed the event wasn't actually a wedding.
If a vendor who supplies kids' entertainment rental (like those blow-up house things) tried to charge more for their services at a wedding than at a birthday party, I'd think they were trying to gouge. Flowers, something I know very little about, I could understand being treated differently for a wedding than other events, but I'd be interested in why.
I mean, you can just ask why if you're curious. Most of them are sole proprietorships. It's not like you're dealing with a large corporation where pricing is set by a corporate office.
Re: bailing, honestly I think most of them just react negatively to being lied to because there's some element of a personal relationship involved in this kind of service. I'd similarly be pretty pissed if my boss lied to me intentionally about what I was working on.
Note and important that the baker is not insulated in any way from the aggravation and the bad feelings as a result of a problem. They will hear about it and they will live it. This is pretty much true for any small business. In other words if you are Comcast the CEO is well insulated from the pain and agony of any customers. Ditto for Airlines and so on. But the front office staff and/or the people who actually take the calls. Sure they hear about it and sure they might perceive it's a problem but they are not hearing the actual customer pain and getting aggravated. The baker will have someone come into the shop and they will see and feel the pain directly.
I don't agree on your why. The point is not perfection; the point is that a wedding is supposed to show affluence. It's in the same ballpark as a present to your fiancée (remember the rule of thumb for the price of the engagement ring: three times the gross monthly earnings whatever they are- which means: expensive by any standard). And I suspect this is valid across many cultures, so I'd say the reason is more or less anthropological. Thriftiness is rarely valued when it comes to these things.
Ugh. Are many people really like this? I would never date, let alone marry someone who had this kind of attitude. It's so... wasteful. And stressful. I don't understand it at all.
I don't have good references here, it's just observation. But think about it: all the process of the proposal, the engagement, the long planning, the event itself, the dozens of relatives and friends invited, the food and the party... it's heavily ritualized and designed as a public and expensive event. Of course, you can deviate from the script as much as you want. If anything (also pure observation, I might be wrong) it seems to become less extreme in cultures that value more careful planning against spontaneity and of, course, tradition: for example weddings in India are an incredibly expensive affair that can last for several days and have thousands of guests.
Somehow the practice reminds me a bit of that of the potlatch , a ritualized exchange and destruction of goods that was meant as a display of wealth in some tribal societies (possibly also ancient Greece).
I would argue strongly that these two things are highly related.
Nobody attaches a physical price tag to their cake at the wedding - it looks immaculate, so you just assume it probably cost a lot.
Also likely why people get upset when it's NOT immaculate - it looks cheaper.
To overgeneralize a lot, but nevertheless I think that the trend is this way though it's nowhere close to an ironclad rule on any of these, petit bourgeois White Anglo-Saxon Protestants don't haggle over prices when planning a wedding. People of lower socioeconomic standing do, people of higher socioeconomic standing have agents that do it for them, and people of other ethnicities do because they don't have the cultural attitude that haggling is gauche.
I imagine a fair amount of haggling goes on in cultures where that's a standard affair.
Thankfully, since then there is a new baker on the block.
What can it do? Attempt to be a middleman that extracts wealth from the sellers' margins.
In this case, the workers are not "gig economy" but professionals. They cannot be bullied nearly so easily as Uber can do with lopsided agreements and pittances in money to the desperate.
They can try to make it easier to connect these professionals with couples, but since people like to talk directly with these professionals and get the planning as part of the "experience", the two groups will bypass the middleman app's rent seeking through direct negotiation.
So the industry resist control by a tech company, simply because you cannot distill the whole process into swipes in an app + a credit card. This means the tech company needs service. It cannot have explosive tech-only growth where the only things needed are another few devs and more rented cloud servers.
When I got married, there's no way that I would have selected any of the vendors through an app. Even if I were inclined to discover them that way, my wife and I met with every vendor in person to evaluate their work, personality (as a proxy for reliability) and discuss pricing. It is an intimately personal affair, and I simply don't see room for a middle man. Even with a wedding planner, the couple getting married still often go through all of those steps.
MAYBE what could be done is to provide a party planning system; specify type of occasion, select from suggested categories of vendors, and let the system manage an assortment of the necessary details, including meeting times. Even in this situation, it's going to be extremely location-dependent. Imagine the complexity of organizing data for Door Dash or Grubhub, multiplied by all of the other categories of vendors (venue, supplies, decoration, setup, cleanup, so forth).
Wedding planning feels more analogous to a hobby. My wife and I enjoyed the time we spent together while planning...tasting cakes, "dates" at caterers, looking at flowers, picking out attire, etc. Yes, there were some stressful moments, but if we had a startup that was designed to "streamline" everything, we would have missed out on that experience.
What I learned on organizing mine is that service providers self organize in networks that refer each other not just as "favourtisement" but because they shared previous jobs and integrated well and that reduces their friction on delivering the client requests.
That something that a startup should target more than the end clients. Disrupting wedding planners seems more efficient than disrupting the wedding industry whole.
If you don't want to bother so much about the wedding it seems likely you don't want to pay enough for a middleman to make a profit.
It cheapens the experience if planning a wedding is as simple as going to a McDonald's drive-thru. For something that's supposed to be once-in-a-lifetime, I don't think people would want an app where they could just customize a few options, and have an entire wedding planned. The point of it, really, is that it isn't supposed to easy.
The thing that just a budget and schedule lacks is being able to watch each others progress and preferences.
There's plenty of room for innovation, with some more imagination.
I think you are partially right, but the key components aren't commodities, at least, for the clientele willing to spend enough money to be worth serving. Venues for ceremony and/or reception are quite often not, for instance
One possible way to disrupt such an industry is by encouraging pre-planning, which helps eliminate the tight time constraints.
But while we all know we're going to die, and our preferences around our funerals tend to be based on our individual wishes, it's not certain that we're going to get married, and our preferences around our weddings tend to based on the joint wishes of the couple, so you can only go so far with pre-planning. It would make little sense for you to start pre-planning before you start dating the person who will become your future husband or wife.
I'm not sure you could get the venue owners to drop rates, because it sure doesn't seem like many have much of a demand shortage. Wedding venues seem to be booked way far out in advance, and don't seem to have any issues with vacancies. And I'm sure they are well aware of each others' rates.
Anecdotally, I also see large disincentives to lower costs for the other major services. Musicians who play weddings do so because the gig pays well, not because playing crappy covers is what they really want to do. Pretty sure the same goes for photographers - if the wedding business wasn't so lucrative, they'd probably just go do something else with their lives. They're all professional, but I'm not sure many would identify as a "wedding singer", just "musician" or "photographer". But, I'd guess they too are very aware of each other's rates, which gives them no reason to work for less money.
Not sure what there's to "disrupt" here other than culture. And if there's one true rule I've learned: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Once you get to 100+ attendees, options drop dramatically. When I did a cursory search for "average us wedding size", I got a number of 120.
So, I'm just not sure where this source of "good enough" venues are going to come from, that aren't already in use.
Financially, I make the same in a single 8 h day of coding that I do in my average "2 h" gigs, which really take 5 hours or so all inclusive, and which only occur 5-10 times per year. If I quit my full time position and tried to get more gigs, I'd get maybe 2 or 3 times more, and my income would go down about by 50k or around 75%.
Given that music is already the #2 cost for weddings, I'm not sure how you "disrupt that" other than not hiring musicians.
I haven't been to a lot of weddings, but non of the weddings I've been to the past few years had a band. So maybe that's already happening.
In the case of a couple planning their wedding, what exactly do these service providers know that the couple does not? How much food ordinarily costs, when catered? How much a particular venue space usually rents for, for an evening?
Finally, even services that should be commoditized, like catering, segment their prices and offerings for weddings, because they can.
And also because they're probably often a PITA compared to some conference or corporate event. I'm not saying corporate/conference event planners don't make a genuine effort to get things right. Smaller events, in particular, can be very well done. But no one's going to freak out if some aspect of the dinner isn't just so.
- Dress (wedding dress/men's dress)
Many of those can be rolled up into a venue (i.e. the venue supplies food, DJ, Cake, etc.), and personally, my fiancé nor I want to spend a lot of money on it.
So it feels like where they are disrupting are the "nice to haves" (expensive dress, cards, etc.) and not focusing on the "need to haves" (Food, venue, etc.)
I've attended a wide gamut of weddings over the years. Some are in the above vein, others are much more informal affairs, still others make the wedding a small family affair and have a bigger casual party as a separate event.
Put another way: If the norm was to have a casual catered party/BBQ at your (or a friend's/relative's) house for a wedding, how many people would consider planning a $50K reception and dinner?
That's where we were at - we ended up renting out a restaurant for the evening - as long as they made what they normally make for an evening they were happy to have less people come in. They went all out on the food as they were feeding 30 people with it instead of the usual restaurant crowd. Our wedding cake was a nicer version of their regular chocolate cake (again, included in the food cost). Our music was the restaurants usual music. It was an excellent.
In regards to the dress, if you're non-traditional there's a ton of off-white non-wedding dresses that look perfectly acceptable and cost a tenth of the wedding varieties.
I will echo the truth behind this. My food truck usually does food service for 3-4 weddings a year and we don't charge much more than our usual prices unless they're asking for something outside standard offerings. We greatly enjoy doing them since we know exactly what we're doing that day, they're a guaranteed income, and we can focus on good quality. Plus it's great fun to be a part of things like weddings, even on the business end of things.
We considered the restaurant option as well. But I think we are going to work with one event space that is actually very reasonable and fairly inclusive with everything.
The pricing variance between venues was insane (some charged to rent the space, come charged a price minimum, some charged for things other did not, some just had some different requirements).
I'd never suggest otherwise. My wife couldn't stomach the thought of spending thousands of dollars on a dress, so she went for a cheaper alternative.
We were married directly in the restaurant (like I said, we're non-traditional), so it was just the one venue for us. The restaurant was incredibly helpful the whole time - they seemed to really enjoy being able to provide fine dining and change up their menu and venue as well.
Just thought I'd offer up my experience. Best of luck with your wedding, and I hope it's the start of a long and happy marriage.
If the typical mobile, prepared in advance, reduced menu restaurant with no real physical footprint can charge per plate what the finest tradition restaurants charge then there is clearly room for disruption.
Just as a comparison, the most expensive group dining option at Ruth Chris (selected for no reason other than I like their food) is $115 a plate. That is less than 2/3rds what we paid per plate at our wedding for something called "beaph" and looked like an old shoe.
[As someone else alluded to, sure you can bring in a couple of food trucks, which I see more and more at conference events. But that's not what a lot of people have in mind for a wedding meal.]
For me, the question is does the caliber of the cook staff, the wait staff, the food at the typical catered event come anywhere near the caliber of what is offered at the very best sit down restaurants?
This post has lots of other noting that telling your service provider that the event is a wedding instantly doubles or triples the price.
Just my opinion, but it seems that there is plenty of room for "disruption" here. I think the same is true for "realtors" and "funerals" and "tour guides".
On the flip side, the forces working to keep these industries protected are basically fear and tradition. Both powerful motivators.
Of course, you've got to balance that against the efficiency gains from the much shorter menu.
Catering a meal for a large group is tougher without a local kitchen. If you're imaginative about meal choices (e.g. optimize around BBQ of some sort) or if you're willing to tolerate lines for e.g. food trucks you can do better. But in my experience you have to make some choices to serve a large meal where there's no permanent kitchen. (I did work for a caterer once upon a time.)
No, they don't, not really, hence, tipping culture. But for catering, unlike menu price at a restaurant, you are paying full freight for service. You are also (compared to a restaurant) paying for the lack of upsell opportunities. (Particularly, if you are supplying drinks separately and don't have a cash bar operated by the caterer: the bar is disproportionately where restaurants make their money.)
I wish. Wedding vendors, especially catering, are also tip driven and its generally expected to tip individuals (coordinators, bar tenders, wait staff etc).
The venue was the next most expensive coming in at a flat rate of a few thousand
Everything else was pretty inexpensive by comparison although it does add up
It's such an important day, people want to make sure they'll be taken care of as special, unlike say, a cleaning service.
These days, "disrupt" is really just fig-leaf language for "How do I get me a piece of those sweet, sweet margins?"
My breakdown of the three largest expenses was about 40% food, 20% clothing and 10% the honeymoon.
We also ended up moving the wedding sunday which was weird but cut off some costs dramatically, we paid the stay for our international guests etc, so, as before, ymmv
I kept an Excel somewhere if people are interested in that sort of thing.
If it's a signature venue, maybe, but for most weddings food is going to be a bigger expense, IME and from everything I've heard from everyone else whose been through the exercise.
For couples having a "big wedding", 80%+ of the cost goes to: catering, venue, photographer, dress, flowers. All of those require a business with a local presence - a web startup isn't going to be able to replace any of those.
The companies mentioned in the article are actually tackling wedding line items that represent a much smaller fraction of the wedding's budget: stationary, registries, wedding websites, and wedding planning tools. Median spend for websites and planning tools is probably $0, because most couples are fine with free website creators (often provided as a loss leader) and Excel spreadsheets.
They're also aiming to collect referral fees or advertising spend from the vendors that actually provide the big line items. However, the total market there is "advertising budgets of other wedding vendors", not "total wedding vendor revenue".
“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
If people seriously thought the risk of a marriage going wrong was significant why would they ever get married? So anyone who actually goes through with the wedding has to be completely emotionally all in already. Arguing against giving into emotions is tantamount to arguing they shouldn't get married in the first place.
The risk of business failure is similar to the risk of divorce yet people don't consider starting a business a "fiction entirely based on irrational emotions." It's not, just like marriage is not.
And since more unmarried couples split up than married couples, you're actually arguing against romantic relationships entirely.
Using this logic, since you usually lose touch with many friends over the years, why have friends at all then? You're probably going to outlive your pet, so why get a pet at all if it's just going to die?
Just because something ends doesn't mean it wasn't worth it for the time it lasted and even if it wasn't, taking some risk isn't entirely irrational.
Take a look at these wedding vows, which I think are still representative :
Do you think it’s at all common that engaged couples would be happy to give up the vow of lifelong commitment (literally until death) or that mainstream culture would agree with you? I highly doubt it. Whatever the pragmatic view you support, neither marriage vows, romantic comedies, disney movies or religion seems to go along with it.
The building we got married in has been torn down. I lost my original wedding ring. The cake is long gone. My wife's dress sits in a cedar chest and has never been worn again. The developer lost our honeymoon pictures. Our marriage is still here.
I think maybe the focus on the day can be a distraction from the lifetime. The day isn't what's going to make your marriage work.
I think this is a similar situation to the often extreme costs seen in the Death Care Industry (Funeral and Mortuary services), just with the opposite end of the emotional spectrum being taken advantage of. People get invested in what they think society sees as necessary or appropriate and are driven by an emotional high/low into not really thinking about what they (or their passed loved ones) really want. They are driven by the emotional state to ignore expense and do whatever they can to convince both themselves and others of their feelings/intent, be that the love and promise of a new marriage, or the love and respect for someone who has passed.
Weddings, by their very nature are Affective Events. They are events that reproduce social relations and emotions in the attendees. As such, the decision making process is lead by emotions.
Don't assume that everyone who has an expensive, traditional wedding hates it - that's as bad as turning up a nose at affordable or quirky weddings.
Maybe the planners would like and be willing to pay for some tool that helped them organize things, but there's probably too much individual customization needed to make any such solution practical to build cheaper and better than Excel or something.
You have one chance to get it right for your clients - there are no do-overs. People only get one wedding day and if you screw it up, you've ruined it for them and they will talk about it for decades to come.
There is no "fail fast" in this realm. Tread lightly.
A lot of that cost differential is high-touch, small-floorspace, low-volume boutiques that throw a lot of effort into the buying experience; budget sensitive buyers can and do cut a lot out of that already, through discount bridal shops that have a sales experience more like traditional retail (despite providing all the same substantive services lie fitting and alterations/customization.)
The rest of it is the substantive services like multiple fittings and alterations, which tend to be priced in with wedding dresses and charged separately otherwise.
Unless there's something about the cake design that obviously gives away the context of your request to the vendor --but beyond that-- it seems disadvantageous to disclose the information.
I'll be honest, I haven't seen many wedding cakes. I've seen far more regular cakes. If I went to a wedding, and someone wanted to trick by serving non-wedding cake, I'd be fooled.
And after expanding the scope, as you do, you mostly get the same recursive problem the article concludes with: most of the expenses go to unconnected third parties like venue, band) who have little opportunity for roll-up.
Then it becomes a configuration problem. You could build a platform that connects couples with wedding vendors, but you might struggle to make that platform flexible enough to allow people to search for all aspects of what they're looking for. Food is a good example of this. When I got married, I had 3 separate dietary requirements I had to meet, which most caterers weren't able or willing to accommodate without a drastic price increase.
It would've been really difficult to build a platform that vendors would fill out fully because there are probably dozens of questions to ask.
I'm sure there are other reasons as well, but that was the biggest pain point for my wedding.
People get real salty if they've done something for generations and then suddenly you want to change things (or more likely things changed around them). See all rural politics.
In my culture, people just went to the Church and got married, followed by an open reception at someone's house or a hall owned by the Church and the ladies made sandwiches. People danced and went home. They were not big events.
Things that people don’t do frequently never get fixed!
Buying a mattress
Anytime you come across high prices and broken processes check it against this rule.
As for customs, there are various electronic entry lanes for immigration and I haven't actually had a bag looked at by customs for years.
> Health care is something people use frequently, has broken processes, and high prices, and will seemingly never be fixed.
Your counter example doesn't work. The original claim was "things that people don't do frequently never get fixed", not "things that never get fixed are infrequently used by people".
And there's a lot of older people. As a cohort, there's only slightly fewer boomers than millennials.
There are now many websites that sell quality mail order mattresses for much less than a brick and mortar store of yore.
I don't know how successful they are, but Redfin seems to have improved the process of home selling/buying.
- Registries: the article itself talks about Zola, for example. Although traditional registry sites (e.g. bloomingdales, bed bath and beyond) seem to still have most of the market in my experience.
- Invitations: You can still go to someone local for this, especially if you need something customized, but more and more people are creating their invitations online.
But there are a bunch of pieces of the wedding that are stubborn to change. Other major expenses include venue, catering, photography, flowers and music/entertainment. But finding these things, which often involves driving out and meeting with someone face-to-face, or at least talking to them over the phone, is part of the process that people love about weddings.
Companies spend $30,000 on events. But most people spend $30,000 (or whatever your wedding costs) are paying for the experience of planning the party. My wife insisted on driving out to sample caterers' food (which for me was the best part of wedding planning) and meeting the potential photographers in person.
If this was strictly a business transaction, then yes, an app could probably make this more convenient. But the process is part of the experience that people seem to like.
EDIT: A lot of people don't see the rationality in having a big, expensive wedding that takes a long time to plan. My brother had close friends and family at a restaurant and it was great. If more people did that, then the wedding industry would be "disrupted". But I'd venture to guess that most people spending large amounts of money on their weddings enjoy the current aspects of the process.
Why must these things be so expensive? You might as well ask why engagement rings are so expensive, or why dowries used to (and in some places still do) exist.
The parties involved see this as an existential purchase, not a practical purchase. The cost and and sacrifice you must give up is a reflection of the value of the bride. Skimping on a cost or a service is seen as an admission that the bride lacks value.
Dowries existed in a time where women were not valued, because taking them on might be seen as an expense. So men got some 'free stuff' in addition.
Also, to be fair, men got the inheritance, so a dowry could be viewed as a kind of inheritance for the bride as well.
As far as 'cost and perception' - my feeling is that this is mostly not being driven by the groom's need to sacrifice, rather by bride's need to have 'perfect weddings'.
Personal experiences are not entirely scientific, but I've been to probably a couple of dozen weddings and in 100% of the cases, the grooms were not hugely interested in the organization, and were a little wary of all the spending. The brides were keen and eager to plan, to make the experience whatever they were. Marriage magazines etc. cater almost exclusively to women, for example.
By the way, that De Beers campaign was marketed at the men, not the women, so it's men that are falling for that rule just as much, if not more, than women are demanding it.
Putting the cost of weddings at the feet of the brides is ridiculous.
For reference, I'm getting married in April, and it's been my wonderful bride who has kept costs way down, compared to my wild spending ideas.
Advertising is absolutely just straight up sexist in a lot of cases, and people (speaking in the broad strokes that you have to when talking about complete populations) eat that up.
I definitely know someone who got turned down because the ring he bought her wasn't expensive enough. Personally I think he dodged a bullet, but that's neither here nor there there.
Advertisers use sexist advertising because it works.
I am claiming that as far as I can tell, there is a difference between how men and women view the importance of a costly wedding. It's possible that you think this is a sexist idea. I don't, and I think it's just a value judgement. (ie, a preference)
0_0 Wow, brides don't even get awarded a pronoun by you?!
In a more humanistic universe, the traditions around marriage means the wedding celebration is generally considered the most important party you ever arrange, so costs are expected to be greater.
Anecdotally, american culture also seems to use wedding spending as a straight up status indicator, comparable to having an expensive care. A notion that is undoubtedly supported by the industry that has much to gain by getting prices as inflated as possible.
While there are many things that seem to be specific to US consumer culture, weddings historically have often been about aggregating wealth and power (rather than formalizing love-based relationships) and it's not like those families stop to consider how vulgar displays of wealth make them look.
It's absurd and repulsive.
It's like we took only a single generation to forget how it was done for 3000 years across most cultures.
Yes, the elite always had big weddings, but most people didn't.
My grandparents and their peers: you go to the Church with family and friends, and then there's a reception at the cottage (considerably more people come by to say hi) where the ladies have sandwiches made. Uncles and aunts play music, people dance a little bit and then go home.
It's another negative aspect of cultural secularization that people don't even realize is happening because they have no context.
One day, after weddings have been corporatized, it's possible future generations think that getting married a 'The Starbucks (of weddings)' is normal as well!
Some of them will invent words like 'holistic' and 'organic' to buck the trend, when they don't even realize is what they mean to say is: "old timey, tradition wedding". Which just doesn't sound very cool or progressive ...
So we never employed anyone who Works on Weddings, and years later, our friends still insist it was the best wedding they've ever been to. All for ~$6,000.
Our wedding planning experience got off to a bad start when we told our wedding planner we had no specific budget. He took that to mean an unlimited budget... and came back with a plan for a 100 person medieval-themed party in fancy dress, complete with monogrammed plates and dancing midgets. Total cost around 45k euros. (The midgets alone were 1.5k!)
So we sacked him and did it for 1/4 of the cost:
- Timing - Switch to a Thursday, with an afternoon ceremony and evening dinner. No problems getting a venue. We decided not to stress about people who couldn't make it midweek.
- Venue for ceremony - The venue was a medieval cloister in the middle of Amsterdam. By doing it on a Thursday afternoon, we paid their standard rates for a business meeting. We made friends with the venue manager. He was able to provide post-ceremony drinks and nibbles at much cheaper rates.
- Celebrant - A friend who did weddings in a another region was able to register with the city council to be our celebrant. Zero cost.
- Fancy dress - As a joke to the wedding planner's medieval idea, we surprised our best man etc with ridiculous medieval fancy dress. A cheap way to help everyone laugh even more at their speeches.
- Flowers - The previous evening, the venue was used for the Dutch 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' awards presentation. The friendly venue manager kept their flowers for us. Zero cost.
- Wedding cake - Decided we could do without this if people had nice post-ceremony drinks. Zero cost.
- Dinner - Booked out a nearby restaurant for the night. They could seat 80. That worked fine as from the 120 guests, many families with kids appreciated the option to go home after the post-ceremony drinks. The restaurant arranged all the catering at their standard reasonable prices. Very nice meal served by professional staff. Zero stress. After dessert, everyone gathered at the bar area and talked and enjoyed themselves til 1am.
- Photographer - A friend asked if she could take photos. Problem solved at zero cost.
- Band/dancing - Neither of us wanted this. Lots of clubs nearby for people who wanted to go out afterwards.
I definitely recommend booking a standard restaurant for a wedding dinner. Don't go to a specialist wedding venue!
Because you'd have to AirBnB the destination, Uber the guests there, Blue Apron the food/cake, Facebook the invitations/web site, etc...
IOW, what I'm saying is you would have to be multiple startups in one.