Wedding costs continue to rise, forcing couples, and retailers, to be more creative with ideas

2008-09-28T00:00:00Z Wedding costs continue to rise, forcing couples, and retailers, to be more creative with ideasSHEILA SMITH - H&R Staff Writer Herald-Review.com
September 28, 2008 12:00 am  • 

DECATUR -After trying on only two dresses, Kelly Seger stood in front of the mirror at the bridal shop and cried.

She finally found the dress she wanted to get married in.

"I started crying and kept saying, 'This is the one,' " she said, as everyone else in the shop got teary-eyed.

That was right after her fianc©, Michael Bantz, proposed on New Year's Eve.

The newly engaged couple soon came to realize the high cost of planning their Nov. 15 wedding.

The Wedding Report, a leading research company that tracks wedding spending and consumer trends, states the average wedding cost in 2007 was $28,732 and predicts the cost to be $29,614 in 2009 and $30,553 in 2010.

Skyrocketing prices are making couples dizzy while planning their nuptials.

A bride's wedding dress and accessories averaged a cost of $1,334 in 2007. That number went down slightly to $1,266 in 2008 but could blissfully peak at $1,287 in 2009, according to weddingreport.com. The average cost for a groom's suit or tuxedo was $232 in 2007, $252 in 2008 and $256 in 2009.

Seger said she got a bargain on her wedding dress at a bridal shop in Springfield, where dresses ranged in price from $800 to $2,000.

The groom and his groomsmen will be renting tuxedos anywhere from $130 to $150 at Seno Formal Wear in Decatur.

The couple is getting married at Central Christian Church and having their reception at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel. The hotel is charging them $30 to $50 a plate per person, which doesn't include the additional rental fee for the ballroom at the facility.

Some business owners catering to the wedding industry understand the fluctuating costs.

Marina Loehr has had her bridal shop on Merchant Street in downtown Decatur since 1999.

She said she has only gone up $50 on the price of her wedding dresses over the years. She usually orders dresses from catalogues and also designs wedding dresses.

"Because of the high gas prices and the economy, shipping cost has increased and everything is costing double now; it's killing me," Loehr said who has managed to stay in business with a personal touch of providing cheaper alterations and bridal accessories.

Dawn Gates, owner of Zip Flowers by the Gates, says the cost of flowers is being passed onto her from the growers in Ecuador.

"This 'green' movement has added to the cost because growers are switching the way they do things, from the pesticides used to how they package things," Gates said.

Gates added that is why bouquets and flower arrangements vary in price.

An average wedding bouquet can cost about $200, and more exotic flowers raise the price to $500, she said.

"I'm not doing as many weddings this year," Gates said, despite October being the biggest fall month for weddings. "But I'm finding a lot of people are cutting back on the cost of flowers by doing it themselves."

Doris Ligon couldn't fathom the cost of flowers, a dress and a reception nearly 50 years ago.

She and her husband plan to renew their vows on Nov. 1.

"I'm surprised by the cost of everything like the flowers and invitations," Ligon said. "I had no idea the expense."

Even though she got a great deal at Marina's Bridal Shop, she is stunned knowing her own wedding dress is now costing more than $500.

She remembered wearing a formal blue dress that was only $50 the first time she got married.

Ligon and her husband didn't have a wedding ceremony and stood before a minister at Trinity CME Church on Nov. 1, 1958.

But this time, Ligon's daughter and granddaughter wanted her to have the wedding she never had - with a maid of honor, six bridesmaids and six groomsmen.

Sarah Winick and her husband-to-be, Joseph Stroud, already had a budget in mind for their Nov. 8 wedding.

Winick said she tried to keep the cost of the wedding less than $6,000.

She ordered a wedding dress online from Castaways Bridal, which included the veil, shoes, accessories and alteration for less than $1,000.

"I prioritized what was important to me, which was the dress and the type of flowers that I wanted for my wedding," she said.

Winick did spend more to have Gerber daisies, roses and carnations for the boutonnieres, bouquets and other flower arrangements.

She is having a traditional church wedding at Westminster Presbyterian Church and dessert reception following in the fellowship hall.

The dessert reception cuts down on some of the cost of having a sit-down dinner, Winick said. She and her husband-to-be also aren't hiring a DJ, but instead plan to play music downloaded from an MP3 player.

"We decided it would be either a small wedding and really do it up or have a bigger wedding where everyone could come and still keep it within our budget," she said.

"This is only one day, and it's not supposed to be about the wedding but the marriage. So why go in debt?"

sheilas@herald-reviewa.com|421-7963.

Wedding costs

Averages for 2008

Ring (hers) - $902

Ring (his) - $569

Invitations - $503

Wedding Gown - $1,266

Suit/Tuxedo - $252

Flowers - $1,557

Photographer - $1,956

Reception hall - $1,963

Food/Drink - $9,931

Cake - $331

DJ/reception - $702

Honeymoon - $3,805

Grand total - $23,737

Source: The Wedding Report.com

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