- First, it is an industry that is made up of multiple smaller enterprises
like caterers, wedding consultants, dresses, various beauty suppliers
(hair, makeup), photographers, favors/bridesmaids gifts, music, honeymoon
related, etc. While the industry as a whole represents a lot of money,
each of the component parts is much smaller -- some smaller than others.
These smaller composite suppliers can be very local and likely will be
small and privately owned -- traditionally the types of businesses that
do not necessarily report financial information to any agency other than
the IRS. This is in sharp contrast to larger industries, comprised on
many public companies which are required to file with the SEC making it
much easier to find information. These larger industries also affect the
economy as a whole on a much more obvious scale, also making it easier
to find out information on them.
- Second, many of the smaller components like caterers,
DJs, and photographers, wedding favors, invitations, etc.
also do other events without necessarily breaking their
business down into wedding versus non-wedding.
Third, because some of the individuals and
businesses that provide services and products may
only work part-time on wedding-related services to
supplement their income or out of friendship, there
will either be a minimal charge or no charge at
all. Figures if there are any, will likely not be
in any "industry" tally.
Since overall industry numbers are going to be hard
to come by, other ways of finding the information
will be necessary. One way is by searching local (and
community) newspapers,which may provide information
on a local market. Also, there may be individual
accounts of weddings that would be relevant.
Contacting local companies/people will provide
someone with experience and knowledge on the local
scene. Try the local phone books under weddings,
party planning, catering, event planning, etc. to
find the local companies/professionals. Also,
ReferenceUSA (often available in local
public libraries) is an electronic directory with
SIC/NAICS codes search limitable by various
geographic search functions.
Many times keywords, Standard Industrial
Classification (SIC), or North American Industrial
Classification Codes (NAICS) will be helpful in
finding information. For example, the following codes
can be used to search for companies in databases like
ReferenceUSA or D&B.
They can also be used to locate information in the Economic
Census. This Census comes out every 5 years and
has information on sales and numbers of
establishments (national and by state).
5812 Eating Establishments (includes Caterers)
2335 Women's, Misses', and Juniors' Dresses
(includes Wedding Dresses, Wedding Gowns)
5621 Women's Clothing Stores (includes Bridal
shops, except custom-retail)
5699 Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Stores
includes Custom Dress Making Shops)
7299 Miscellaneous Personal Services, Not
Elsewhere Classified (includes Wedding Gown
Rental and Wedding Planning)
5943 Stationery Stores
315233 Women's and Girls' Cut and Sew Dress
Manufacturing (includes Wedding Gowns, Bridal
Dresses, Wedding Gowns)
315212 Wedding dresses, women's, cut and sew
448190 Other Clothing Stores (includes Bridal
gown shops -except custom)
532220 Formal Wear and Costume Rental (includes
Bridal Wear Rental)
812990 All Other Personal Services (includes
45321 Office Supplies and Stationery Stores
Back to Top
When looking for data on the size of this industry,
the first thing to note is that, while there is a lot
of money in the wedding industry, gowns represent
only one segment of the industry.
Second, wedding gowns are part of a larger women's
clothing industry -- depending on how the
business reports itself and how deep the search
functionality is of the database, separating wedding
dresses from the larger industry may be difficult. It
might help to use the two NAICS codes that are
applicable to help you find companies and numbers
(that is, sales figures). Databases like Duns
Million Dollar Directory and
ReferenceUSA allow searches by the NAICS
codes given above, while other databases still use
SIC codes. To have a complete picture, however, it is
necessary to also consider those establishments that
sell used gowns and those offering rental gowns.
Lastly, neither of those take into account those
women who have someone make their dress. There are
SIC codes for all of these others but not for the
instance where a friend or family member makes the
Lastly, there are many definitions of wedding dress.
When most people in the U.S. think of wedding
dresses, they think in terms of the traditional long,
white dress. However, there are brides who only buy a
nice outfit and go to the judge's chambers and others
who plan "ethnic" weddings where the bride wears a
traditional costume from her country.
You may have more luck with industry information by
searching through articles and gathering snippets. I
would suggest searching in wedding/bridal magazines such as
-Bride's, Modern Bride, as
well as clothing trade magazines such as
Women’s Wear Daily, all of which
cover this area. In addition, there are full-text
databases that local public and university libraries
subscribe to such as Infotrac, (which
has all three of the above titles) and
ABI-Inform, among others. Also, both
databases index articles. For example,
Infotrac uses the index terms Wedding,
Costume and Wedding Supplies, and Services Industry).
One caveat, many of the articles will be more
fashion-oriented and less business- oriented.
If you want to find information on this industry, try
one of the associations
listed below or contact a local consultant through
your phone directory or web sites such as
http://respondweddings.com/ or http://www.afwpi.com/consultants/
and see what they may offer.
For those who want to get into the wedding
planning/consulting business, Sell the
Bride offers tips as well as some books and
These three industries are ones where some of their
business is not wedding related. There may not
necessarily be caterers whose only business it to
cater only to weddings. The same could be said about
Disc Jockeys and videographers.
However, the two associations for videographers
jockeys have interesting data about their
particular industry and their industry in regards to
Finding industry information for favors also presents
difficulties: the biggest of which is that the choice
of favor is individual -- it could be anything
the bride/groom chooses. There may be things that are
more likely to be chosen (picture frames, jewelry,
etc.) but these items are not solely for the wedding
industry. There is no way to distinguish between
those that are bought for weddings and those that are
not. Also, the places where favors or gifts can be
bought is not limited to the "wedding favor store."
Most stores sell a variety of products and will not
mark items specifically as "wedding favors." There
may be estimates of the average amount that a bride
spends per party favor/gift, but such "averages" fail
to take into account the number of people to whom she
is giving a gift - which can vary from one to five to
eight, and on up. Searching through publications
geared to gift markets may be one way to find information on
There has been an increase in what is known as destination weddings - those weddings held where neither the bride or the groom lives or necessarily has family. It has been estimated the one in ten weddings are destination weddings - a massive increase over the last decade.
Modern couples are often older then they were 15 or 20 years ago, they are often more well traveled, and/or they may want something more exotic.
Top destinations for U.S. couples include Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, and in Europe, southern France and Italy. Resorts and hotels in hot areas are becoming increasingly proactive in their wedding business by putting together packages and offering more services for those seeking wedding services.
There is no single statistical source for data on this segment of the wedding
industry; rather much of the information is anecdotal and derived from surveys/questions
to hotels/resorts, couples, wedding planners, and others. Thus, article searches
may yield the best information on this topic.
Back to Top
Statistical data related to the wedding industry can be found in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, where you will find information, not on weddings per se, but on marriages and marital status. According to introductory information in the Vital Statistics section of the Statistical Abstract for 2006, data on marriages and divorces have been collected at the national level since 1887-88. Periodic updates took place after 1888, with annual updates beginning in 1944. Data for earlier years can be found in earlier editions of the Statistical Abstract.
Statistics on the total number and rates of marriages in the United States at the national and state levels is compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the National Vital Statistics Reports, formerly the Monthly Vital Statistics Report (MVSR). One of the earliest comprehensive analysis was issued by NCHS in 1995 and appeared in the Advance Report of Final Marriage Statistics, 1989-90 [PDF: 201 KB/ 24 p.] However, those numbers have since been updated in "First Marriages in the United States: Data From the 2006Ė2010 National Survey of Family Growth" [PDF: 420 KB/ 22p.] published in 2012.
Additional data on marriage in the United States can be found in The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). Conducted by NCHS, the data was published in Series 23, Number 22, "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States" [PDF: 5.5 MB/ 103 p.]
Other sources of statistics include:
Back to Top
There are several large national/international
associations, as well as small state/regional ones; a selection of such associations are listed
Back to Top
"A Big Wedding with a Smaller Bill," by Francine
Parnes. May 25, 2002, New York Times
- "The Bridal Business Branches Out," by Rosemary Feitelberg. WWD, December 20, 2005, p. 8.
- "Bridal Market Takes Aggressive Stand." WWD: Women's Wear Daily, (2009): 198(46), 8-1.
"By the Numbers: Divvying Up the Wedding Cake,"
March 10, 2003, HFN The Weekly Newspaper for
the Home Furnishing Network
"Can't Buy Me Love? Maybe Just a Wedding?" by Julie
Dunn. Feb. 11, 2001, New York Times
"The Copycat Wedding," by Lauren Lipton. May 21, 2004, Wall Street Journal
- "The Cost of Weddings." B. F. Timmons. American Sociological Review, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Apr., 1939), pp. 224-233
- "Destination Weddings: Exotic Locales and Stress-free Nuptials Could Mean the End of Bridezillas," by Janeen Christoff, Marty Wentzel, and Jamie Wetherbe. TravelAge West, October 31, 2005, p. 20.
- "Destined to be Different: In Their Search for Paradise, More and More Contemporary Couples Are Choosing Destination Weddings," by Beth Bernstein. Lustre, March-April 2005, p. 60.
- "Don't buy a 'wedding dress' for your wedding" by Sarah Halzack Washington Post, June 21, 2016
"For Love and Money Amid Economic Sickness, Bridal
Industry Radiates Health," by Dina El Boghdady. May
25, 2003, Washington Post
- "Hotels Say 'I do' to Destination Weddings, Ring in Profits," by Shannon McMullen-Coyne. Hotel & Motel Management, February 21, 2005, p. 33.
- "Inside the Designer Bridal Boom" by Lauren Sherman October 29, 2013 Businessoffashion.com
"Internet Sales Threaten Bridal Salons. - Focus on
the Bridal Industry," by Dominic Mariani. Nov 5,
2001 v40 i45 p17(1), Fairfield County
"Murphy's Law: The Wedding Version," by Christine
DiGrazia. June 16, 2002, New York
- " Sound of wedding bells is fading for millennials," by Schulte, Brigid. Washington Post, May 18, 2015, pA4. Reprinted on WonkBlog (May 17, 2015) as "Why parents should stop hoping their kids will get married."
"You're Getting Married," by Rebecca Mead. April
21, 2003 - March 10, 2003, p38, New
- "Wedding industry costs soar even as growth slows," by Kirby Lee Davis. Journal Record, November 21, 2005.
"Love is Priceless; Weddings Cost," by Leslie Haggin Geary. June 2, 2003 CNNMoney
"The National Average Cost Of A Wedding Is…"
by Jamie Miles. March 2014.
- "Wedding Bells Arenít Ringing for Millennials." by Brent Roderick on June 10, 2015 from Esriís blog Esri Insider.
Back to Top
American Wedding Study
This is a study done by BRIDES magazine and is often cited in news and magazine articles. It is easiest to find press releases about the study as well as references in articles.
The Real Wedding Study
2013 [PDF format: 2.98 MB/57 pp.]
This is a study done by The Knot which is often cited in news and magazine articles. It is easiest to find press releases about the study as well as references in articles.
Bride's Magazine. New York, N.Y. : Condé
LC Call Number: BJ2051.A1 B7
LC Catalog Record:
Boden, Sharon. Consumerism, romance, and the wedding experience New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
LC Call Number: HQ745 .B67 2003
LC Catalog Record: 2003042912
Table of Contents
Daniels, Maggie and Carrie Loveless. Wedding planning & management : consultancy for diverse clients. 2nd ed. Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge, 2014
LC Call Number: HD9999.W372 D36 2014
LC Catalog Record: 2013016881
The audience is students, consultants, vendors, scholars. It provides an introduction to the business of weddings with attention paid to the historical and cultural foundations, practice, and the business of wedding planning. Includes case studies.
Howard, Vicki. Brides, Inc. : American Weddings and the Business of Tradition. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2006.
LC Call Number: HD9999.W373 U646 2006
LC Catalog Record: 2006041845
Table of Contents
Mead, Rebecca. One Perfect Day : The Selling of the American Wedding. New York : Penguin Press, 2007.
LC Call Number: HQ745 .M43 2007
LC Catalog Record: 2006052461
Contributor biographical information
This book is both commentary and investigation into the billion dollar industry. It looks at professional event planners, department stores, the retailers and manufacturers of bridal gowns, etc.
Modern Bride. [New York, etc., CBS Magazines, etc.]
LC Call Number: HQ1 .M63
LC Catalog Record: 53036160
Retail Business Market Research Handbook. Richard K. Miller & Associates.
This report comes out annually and one chapter, which varies is devoted to the bridal/wedding market. For example in the 2012 version, chapter 20 offers an overview of the bridal and wedding market in the U.S. The HFN indicates that newlyweds spend 31 billion dollars on automotive, 15 billion dollars on insurance and 21 billion dollars on financial services over a 17-month period. Data on wedding-gift giving, wedding registries and same-sex marriages are also provided. This chapter in the 2012 (and earlier versions) is also found in Business Source Complete (EBSCO).
U.S. Wedding Forecast
Published by Demographic Intelligence. This is a report released annual in May, that attempts to provide demographic insights into the future of marriage and provides projections for U.S. weddings 24 months out, breaking down these forecasts by income, race, ethnicity, age, and education. This report also projects U.S. wedding totals out 5, 10, and 15 years.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Additional publications in the Library of Congress collection on
marketing to various ethnic groups may be identified by searching
the Online Catalog under appropriate
Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish
to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject
headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute
a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during
periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog.
Marriage customs and rites
Weddings--Equipment and supplies.
Wedding supplies and services industry.
Last Updated: 02/07/2017
To view PDFs