Following up on some questions about wedding costs that I received in response to my class presentation, The Digital Bride, I decided to do some deeper digging. The most common question I received was asking whether or not using wedding planning websites, such as WeddingWire or The Knot, has decreased the overall cost of weddings. The average cost of weddings over time, according to statistics aggregated from The Knot and CostofWedding.com, has continued to increase year over year from 1990 to 2014. There was a minor dip on the graph in what appears to be around 2008, however that was also during the time of the recession, so it is wise to assume that that played a major part in engaged couples’ willingness to spend.
The cost of the average wedding in the United States now hovers around $30,000. Here is a breakdown of the most expensive wedding costs:
What can we extrapolate from this and what does that mean in regards to our question about WedTech bringing down the cost of weddings? Based on my experience in working for WeddingWire, these costs are not costs that any digital business can help minimize. While an online catalog of wedding vendors can help you pick a wedding venue with more knowledgeable data, such as pictures of past weddings held there and reviews from couples who used the venue, the wedding websites do not actually aim to reduce the cost of the wedding venue for the engaged couple. Rather, WeddingWire and The Knot help to inform the engaged couple and make them as knowledgeable about the services offered and available to them.
When comparing two DJs side by side in Lake Winnipesaukee, for example, you can look at price difference and go with the less expensive option if you are budget-conscious, but chances are you would still have done the leg work (just a lot more of it) without the help of the wedding website to compare the two DJs to one another.
Pinterest was another website that I presented on, explaining how wedding idea boards are often made by females who are not yet engaged. Pinterest allows females who are or are about to get engaged flag photos of different wedding dress designs they like and ring cuts they prefer. This information is useful for dress shopping once engaged, as well as for the pinner’s fiancé when he is looking for an engagement ring that his bride will like. Pinterest is a social media platform that allows for the sharing of idea visually, but its aim is more to help a user generate an online vision board more so than to help her cut costs on wedding dresses, rings, etc.
The area where digital businesses could save an engaged couple on expenses are with digital invitations. However, as sited by the statistics we viewed earlier, that is considered a minor overall expense and it is not something that comes without a price tag even if done digitally. The engaged couple may just save on postage by sending the invitations online versus by snail mail. The average cost of wedding invitations is $443 nationwide as of 2016, which is 1.5% of the $30,000 overall budget that we took into consideration earlier. Maybe a couple can save on the online invitations using a digital business, but if the couple also wants to add in a GeoFilter on Snapchat as previewed in the in-class presentation, they are making up for the savings by adding on an additional expense.
The overall take away from this conversation about WedTech and The Digital Bride is this: the point of wedding websites is to generate business for wedding vendors while helping engaged couples plan their weddings with more ease than they would have been able to prior to the age of the world wide web. The goal is not so much to save money on the wedding as it is to be more knowledgable about the industry, more involved in the planning process, and make the experience more personalized. With the advent of Instagram hashtags, wedding websites and crowdsourced honeymoons on HoneyFund, a more customizable wedding is available but still for approximately the same price as it was before the wedding business shifted to a digital platform.