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A Minute with Cele Otnes


6/4/2008

Summer means wedding gowns and receptions, not just shorts and cookouts. And getting hitched will continue without a hitch this summer despite an economic downturn that has boosted already hefty costs, says Cele Otnes, who co-authored a 2003 book on the allure of the lavish wedding. Otnes, a marketing professor in the U. of I. College of Business, also offers a few money-saving tips in an interview with News Bureau Business & Law Editor Jan Dennis.

The term "June bride" is thrown around a lot. Are there really more weddings in June and, if so, why?

Photo: Cele OtnesJune is still the most popular month for weddings, followed by August, September, October and May.

I don't know why July isn't as popular, but typically people want to get married when the weather is nice, and when people can travel. Brides and grooms who choose September and October also typically enjoy the added bonus of not having to pay peak-season rates for honeymoons.

The average U.S. wedding costs nearly $30,000 according to estimates. Why so pricey?

The average cost for a wedding is now about $28,700, according to recent calculations by The WeddingReport Inc. Some of the key elements that go into a wedding -- namely, food and beverages, airline tickets for honeymoons, and even the cost of gold for rings, which has risen 30 percent in the last year - are all passengers on the current inflation train, so these costs are being passed on to the consumer.

Are couples trimming costs due to the nation's current economic slowdown? If so, what sacrifices are they making?

Some couples are doing so, and choosing to create some elements of the wedding such as centerpieces for tables themselves. However, it's very difficult to dislodge childhood fantasies about weddings (e.g., "Your One Day to Be A Princess"), and people are likely to sacrifice in other areas before they will do so for their weddings. A recession and hard economic times provide even more of a rationale that the wedding can be the one time for an extravagant blowout, before returning to clipping coupons and consolidating errands to save gas.

How will the rising cost of travel and devaluation of the dollar affect honeymoon destinations?

Travel agents are reporting that with the Euro at about $1.55, people are choosing destinations where the dollar is still stronger than the local currency. So dream trips to Italy or Spain might be rethought in locations such as Mexico and South America.

What tips would you give couples to trim costs but still have the wedding of their dreams?

By far one of the biggest costs is food. Just until very recently, the food events were actually more casual -- for example, it was perfectly acceptable to have a rehearsal dinner at home. Perhaps couples could consider having a barbecue for a rehearsal dinner, or having it at a more casual venue. Other couples are having weddings in the afternoons to eliminate the cost of a sit-down dinner, which can be one of the biggest line items for the whole event. Another popular idea is to have a destination wedding -- with couples not paying for the travel costs of the attendees. Because fewer people typically attend, these types of weddings are both more intimate and more affordable.

Related Information:

Professor Cele Otnes - Faculty Profile

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