If there's one place family, money, and love converge into an emotional Bermuda Triangle where common sense disappears, it is the wedding.
"It is an industry that profits from your dreams and expectations," says Mary Claire Allvine, CFP and principal at Brownson Rehmus & Foxworth, and author of "The 10 Most Important Money Decisions You'll Ever Make."
Some $23 billion will be spent on weddings in 2011 — and that's just the event itself. Add another $19 billion on gifts and $8 billion on honeymoons and it is the $50 billion juggernaut according to renowned wedding industry researchers Denise and Alan Fields, authors of “Bridal Bargains.”
Allvine, who specializes in advising married couples, says, “It's the most manipulative process."
This manipulation is based on an inelastic demand function. Vendors bet on your expectation that this is the only time you'll do this in your life-and they price accordingly.
So, if you're about to get married, long before you say, " I do", say "I see". According to Sue Totterdale, Board Chairman of the National Association of Wedding Professionals, American weddings currently average between $27,000 – $35,000.
Start saving and learn exactly what it is you are paying for.
Before You Pop the Question
The engagement ring is just the first of many financial hills you'll have to climb or circumvent as a couple.
Hopeful grooms should brush up on their knowledge of gemology. There’s a whole world of choice out there. This is a purchase you want to make wisely in order to avoid scams.
Check out www.BlueNile.com, one of the largest online retailers of engagement rings. The “Education” tab breaks down the 4 “Cs” – cut, color, clarity and carats.
Mark Michaels, VP of Michaels Jewelers says, “Cut is the most important feature of the 4 C’s. The quality of the cut affects the light performance – its sparkle.” What’s more, the cut of the stone can add or subtract up to 50 percent of the stone’s value.
As to how to avoid scams, Michaels says: “Get whoever you buy a diamond from in writing defining the quality using either AGS, or GIA, grading terms on the sales voucher.” (The Gemological Institute of America, GIA, and the American Gem Society Laboratories, AGSL, dictate industry standards.)