Houston, Texas – Once thought to be recession-proof, even the wedding industry is starting to feel the effects of a struggling economy. Boosted by the glamour of TV shows like “The Bachelor,” bridal budgets have been steadily climbing for years, but now the 73-billion dollar industry is discovering that it too is hitched for better or for worse to what happens on Wall Street.
Laurette Veres runs the Houston’s Bridal Extravaganza Show, the largest wedding show in the Southwest. She expects an even larger turnout than normal for the Jan. 10-11th show because of all the budget-conscious brides. “When you get all these wedding industry competitors under one roof, brides know they can comparison shop and find bargains,” Laurette says. “This year everyone is going to be looking for ways to still have their dream wedding without busting the budget.”
22-year old Ashley Flora of Katy says she’s cut her wedding budget in half because of the economy. She got her gown and veil on sale. Instead of renting a reception hall, she’s having the reception in the church and she and her mom are doing most of the decorating themselves. “I refuse to go into this marriage in debt, “ says Ashley. “That’s no way to start out.”
Veres has some tips for the brides who want to avoid the wedding bill blues:
—Watch the flowers. All those arrangements can quickly add up. A nice display at the altar is fine, but brides who are thinking about a bouquet on every pew may discover that this year, it’s nifty to be thrifty.
—Trim the guest list. Of course you want to invite the world, but too many Great Uncle Harry’s or your best friend’s cousins and you’ll quickly wish you eloped.
–Be flexible with your dates. Most venues cost less to rent on Fridays or Sundays. If you have a Saturday wedding expect to pay full price.
–Reduce the Bridal Party. If you have enough bridesmaids to field a girl’s softball team, you may want to cut back. In this economy, less is best when it comes to the wedding party.
But make no mistake, the average wedding bill is still large enough to make the father of the bride wish he’d only had sons. According to the industry research company, The Wedding Report, the average price tag for a wedding in 2008 is only down slightly from last year. The national average is $28-thousand.
Where the wedding is held can make a big difference in how much you spend. Here are the averages for the state’s largest cities:
Austin ($28, 925)
Dallas ($25, 955)
Fort Worth ($25,228)
Houston ($24, 892)
San Antonio ($24, 443)
According to the National Association of Catering Executives, more than half their members are experiencing changes in the menu as couples look to cut costs. Laurette says, “It’s not like brides are going from champagne and caviar to beer and pretzels, the changes are more subtle—instead of 4 courses, couples are going with 3 and the filet mignon is being replaced with chicken.”
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