Spending Habits of the Newly Engaged & How Couples Choose Their Wedding Suppliers: Market Research from Splendid Communications & Brides Magazine

A couple of wedding media outlets have conducted some pretty awesome market research over the past few months. These included the amazing Liene of Splendid Communications and Brides Magazine (US). Both interviewed thousands engaged and newly married couples and with their permission I’m sharing some of their findings today.

From Liene’s results, I found the factors couples consider when booking their wedding suppliers particularly interesting (click to enlarge each image).

So what do these answers tell us?

Primarily it appears that while couples see added value in a supplier who gets press and features (on blogs or in magazines) recommendations from friends and family (in real life or via facebook) is still the number one way couples find their suppliers. They want to book people they can trust.

They also cited that a supplier’s personality plays a huge role (70% said it was ‘very important’ with a further 27% saying ‘it matters’). So being yourself, connecting with clients who are like you and being a nice person (as well as a good at what you do) is paramount. Sounds obvious but believe me there are some suppliers I’ve met who seem to forget that last part!

Maybe one of the most surprising results to me was that 94% of couples said that speediness of reply to emails ‘is very important’ or ‘matters’ when booking a supplier. My advice after seeing that would be to make your inbox a number one priority!

These three factors were way more important to couples than fancy awards or celebrity clients. If you ignore external factors (and what everyone else appears to be doing) and instead focus on your brand, on being attentive to a potential client’s needs and on being yourself, the right kind of people will be booking you!

Thank you to Liene for allowing me to share these snippets in the Green Room today! If you want to read more of Liene’s findings, the 41 page PDF with her complete results can be purchased here.

The Brides Magazine research is particularly interesting for those in the wedding fashion, styling or design arenas as their research shows that couples are not only mainly funding their weddings themselves these days, but that fashion forward choices were playing a huge part in their weddings – i.e picking non-traditional elements that make their wedding stand out from all their friends’. I also think some of their basic findings on how much couples are spending, and how that relates to years gone by are also particularly helpful.

Their key findings included:

♥ The percentage of couples paying for the wedding reception exclusively themselves (36%) is up significantly vs. 2009 (29%) with 62% of couples contributing or paying entirely.

♥ There is an emphasis on style with wedding dress costs continuing to increase. The average cost of a wedding gown is now $1,355, up from $1,289 in 2011. Average costs of bridesmaid dresses ($145 vs. $143 in 2011), groomsmen attire ($137 vs. $121 in 2011) and honeymoon attire ($902 vs. $845 in 2011) has also increased. We’re also seeing an increase in grooms buying tuxes rather than rent.

♥ Couples remain committed to personalisation with 31% planning weddings personal themes, 31% creating custom cocktails and 20% incorporating cultural traditions.

♥ 59% of couples are using Pinterest to find and collect wedding inspiration.

♥ The cost of weddings continues to remain steady with an average price-tag of $26,989. This is a slight increase from $26,501 in 2011. Wedding spending peaked in 2008, with the 2009 Brides AWS reporting an average of $28,082.

♥ An average price tag for a reception is $11,599.

♥ Outside of the reception, the largest chunks of money are going to photography ($2,186), wedding rings ($1,594) and flowers ($1,334).

♥ An average wedding dress costs $1,355 up from $1,289 in 2011.

♥ Spending has increased slightly for photography ($2,186 vs. $2,097 in 2011).

Take from these results what you will, but I hope sharing them may help some of you with your plans for your wedding business moving forward.



  1. Lucy

    this is really interesting, even as a bride to be! i wonder though if people are saying they dont fond their suppliers on a blog or through an advert but they are still indirectly influenced by what they see online and in mags.

  2. This is an amazing useful piece of research- I have been seriously doubting recently how effective print advertising is, and wow, do I need to stop doing that! It’s also really good to hear that personality counts for so much, and the very basic (and free!) idea of being nice, which seems to be a bit lacking with some in our field. Thanks Kat!

  3. Sam

    Hi! I think the most important things when choosing a wedding supplier are speediness of replying to email enquiries and personality of the person you are dealign with. Wedding are one of the most stressful things you’ll ever go through, I think people just want to keep it as painless as possible. I found the most frustrating thing was emailing suppliers over and over again and being ignored or not getting straight answers to questions. Hopefully all my suppliers will pull it out of the bag on the day! PS – love that dress on the front of the magazine cover. xx

  4. VERY interesting read. Great to see my own suspicions/ theories on these various points confirmed. I shall continue being lovely, not fret about not entering awards/ competitions most of the time and use the time I save lovingly tending my website and inbox instead 🙂

  5. Really interesting findings. That appetite for personal recommendations explains the popularity of forums among brides. Most of all they want an unbiased opinion they can trust and seek this in the real-life experience of others. The most important thing to most couples is that the day goes smoothly and their guests enjoy themselves. That explains why they aren’t bothered about awards or celebrity association. Perhaps there’s a gap between perception and reality in how many vendors market themselves. Emphasise a personal touch and not perceived prestige.

  6. Marie-Claire

    I completely agree with the speediness of replies. It looks extremely unprofessional when someone takes weeks to reply or does not reply at all. If the vendor is not interested then said vendor shouldlet the client know. It is extremely rude to leave someone waiting for no reason. And please, if you find months down the track that you missed an enquiry, do send a response. It is never too late. A bit of niceness goes a long way.

  7. Post author

    sooo agree Marie-Claire – i am obsessed with replying to my emails for this very reason!

  8. As a bride to be, this all sounds about right!

    Email response times are of massive importance to me. I had one venue who didn’t get back to me about availability after we visited, despite me emailing them directly a week later to ask for an update. Three months later, they rang me, said they were sorry but they’d had problems finding my phone number, and that they were available after all. Why on earth hadn’t they just replied to my email three months beforehand? By the time they got in touch we’d written them off and hired somewhere else.

    Also, any supplier who has an email address but responds to queries by emailing asking the customer to ring them gets a massive black mark against their name in my book. If I email you, it’s because I want to correspond via email at this point.

  9. This is great, thanks Kat and Lienne, I actually bought a book from Lienne I think last year or early this and still waiting for it from amazon, so will chase it up now. I love that personality and excellent quality of service are top of the list. Just shows too that advertising is not that useful generally. Makes me smile that brides want a real person to help them and are not too bothered if you are famous as long as you understand what they want, are attentive and deliver what you say you will. Thanks again.

  10. It is interesting how important the personal part is, while awards and famous clients really does not rank that highly. People really want someone they like and trust to take the photographs, and someone who will arrive on time of course.

    This is very useful, thanks.

  11. This is really interesting and useful, thanks Kat! Really useful to see that speediness in replying to emails is so so important, as it’s something I really try to stay on top of (and consider extremely important when i’m at the receiving end).

    However “speediness” is also a fairly subjective term. Some people might consider <24 hours speedy, other would want a reply within just a few hours, and others still might be happy with a reply within 2-3 days. It would be interesting to see more detailed research on this.

    Thanks again!

  12. This is FASCINATING. I was just saying on Twitter the other day that I’d love to know how couples choose their wedding photographers. Most of it is just as I’d imagined. I can’t imagine people really care about awards, or whether the supplier had handled celebrities. Thanks for this!

  13. I can definitely vouch for some of these findings. A few of my brides have said that they decided not to book one of my competitors due to the fact she had no personality and was disinterested and were more than happy with me.

  14. Laura

    I’m currently trying to find a venue for my wedding and reception in Liverpool (my home town) but my fiancé and I live in east London. As a result we can only view venues of a weekend but despite explaining this one venue has insisted I can only view Wednesday or Thursday early evening. I can’t get to Liverpool for then but they aren’t willing to accommodate us at all so they’ve gone straight off my list. Right now my list is definitely being ruled by speed of reply and courteousness. I’ve been turned off a good few venues based on this alone!

  15. Laura

    I’m currently trying to find a venue for my wedding and reception in Liverpool (my home town) but my fiancé and I live in east London. As a result we can only view venues of a weekend but despite explaining this one venue has insisted I can only view Wednesday or Thursday early evening. I can’t get to Liverpool for then but they aren’t willing to accommodate us at all so they’ve gone straight off my list. Right now my list is definitely being ruled by speed of reply and courteousness. I’ve been turned off a good few venues based on this alone!

  16. very interesting to read Kat! Seeing that I am in the wedding industry and that I am a bride to be, I completely agree with findings. Solid writing. Thanks!

  17. This is why I have a FULL-TIME employee who’s job is just to answer e-mails and keep clients happy. It’s a LOT of money (especially at Manhattan employment rates), but it’s by far my best expenditure.

  18. Thanks for sharing this massively important and useful information. It does confirm pretty much what I mostly expected after all if wasn’t that long ago that I was the bride to be. Responding to client and potential client emails has always been of huge importance to me and it is good to see that it is worth my husbands annoyance when I get the laptop out to fire off a “few quick emails” at 10 pm! Also nice to see the info re print ads, I was considering doing a few test ads soon but may redirect that budget now, and enquire about one of your media packs! Thanks again kat

  19. This is great information. If I were out and about, I’d usually wait to get home before replying (out of fear of cell phone auto-correct flubs) but I have to rethink that now.

  20. Post author

    Mercedes – I think waiting until you get home is ok!! I’d say within 48 hours is acceptable!

  21. Thanks for taking the time to post all this. I find it mostly true, but that more and more, the most important single factor for professionals is their consistent quality and recommendations.

    Please share more when you find it… regards, David.

  22. Great article. It makes a lot of sense. Who cares how many awards a photographer has won or celebrities they have photographed if you don’t like their personality and they have horrible customer service. You want to be able the enjoy the photographers company on your wedding day and have them be responsive to your needs.

  23. Ha ha, so our little ego trips from being published and getting awards and joining associations and blah, blah, blah don’t matter so much to clients. Hilarious. Why do all these pros ignore what really matters… THE BRIDE? I don’t get it. I hope everyone in this industry reads, understands and learns from these results. Be yourself, be reliable and trustworthy, build that reputation and get more clients. Worry about them and how great they are and forget yourself. You are there to serve them, not vice versa. I love this article and thank you for it. You’ve provide invaluable information.

  24. Thank you for the work it took to be able to share this information. While I have always prided myself on timely replies and actively listening to what the bride has to say, rather than talking about myself. I am heartened to learn that brides are in fact more interested in communication and personal recommendations than in celebrity and awards. And I agree, the Bride always comes first.
    Thank you Kat, Liene and everyone at Brides.

  25. Hello! I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the good job!


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