Weddings Are Big Business: How to Cash In

Weddings Are Big Business - Are You Cashing In?

Are you considering starting a wedding-related business?

If so, you’ve picked an enormous industry rife with opportunity. Even better, you can start a wedding business on almost any budget. The following presents some eye-opening wedding business statistics along with the most lucrative wedding businesses, wedding businesses with low startup costs and overhead, plus unique and emerging wedding businesses you can start today – including links to resources for additional information on launching a successful wedding business.


How big is the wedding industry?

The average couple spent $35,329 on their wedding in 2016, according to data compiled by The Knot. That represents an 8% growth over 2015 ($32,641) – and an 81% increase over 2007 (from an average of $145 per guest to $240 per guest).

WEDDING COST PER GUEST

Multiply that by 2.14 million marriages per year, according to the most recent National Center for Health Statistics Data, and the U.S. wedding industry weighs in at a whopping $75.6 billion. And that’s just the tip of the $300 billion-plus global wedding market.

Note that these figures do not even include the amount spent on honeymoons or wedding gifts (and the average wedding has 141 guests).

Don’t forget the honeymoon!

According to TripSavvy , the average couple spends $4,466 on honeymoons, fueling a $12 billion market (luxury honeymooners – 15% of newlyweds – spend an average of $9,854).

Guests contribute significantly to the wedding economy

According to a survey conducted by RetailMeNot and printed on Brides.com , the average wedding guest spends between $45 and $195 on a wedding gift. Take the average of $120 and multiply it by 141 (the average number of guests) and the average wedding generates an additional $16,920 in goods sold. This doesn’t even take into account hotel rooms, meals, new suits, new dresses, new shoes, and other goods purchased by wedding guests.

It all adds up

So, while the average wedding costs $35,329, that figure doesn’t tell the whole story. Add in the cost of a honeymoon and the amount guests spend on wedding gifts, and the average wedding generates more than $41,487 in spend – and that’s a conservative figure; when you consider for unaccounted costs incurred by wedding guests (clothing, meals, hotel rooms, gas, babysitters, etc.), that figure might more realistically approach $50,000. Bridal showers, bachelor parties, and bachelorette parties also add to the total economic impact of a single wedding.

AVERAGE WEDDING EXPENSES BY CATEGORY (from The Knot)

This version removes the biggest expenses for better data visualization

Single Wedding

In short, a single wedding is the catalyst for a lot of money to be spent – and there’s no reason you can’t start a business and earn your fair share (or more) of that spend.

TOTAL WEDDING COSTS

The best part? Weddings are so localized, there is no dominant company in the wedding space. That means there’s plenty of opportunity for even the smallest startups to profit from the wedding market.

Weddings require diverse services

Another feature of the wedding industry is the diverse products and services that are purchased for the typical wedding. That diversity means you have multiple ways to enter the market; and there’s a good chance at least one of those suits your interests.

In fact, Wedding Wire found that couples hire 13 different vendors for the average wedding – up from 6 vendors just 10 years ago. The vendor types that have seen the greatest growth are wedding venues, caterers, photographers, DJ’s, florists, and wedding planners (perhaps because couples spend an average of 8 hours per week planning their weddings!).

Perhaps you’re interested in being a wedding planner, a wedding reception DJ, or a caterer. You’re only limited by your passions and your cost to enter the market.

Some wedding

Related businesses require extensive upfront capital – banquet halls, for example – while others can be started with little more than a business card (think wedding planners).

Of course, you also have the ability to get creative. For example, you might partner with a restaurant to provide catering services: you do the marketing and delivery, they do the cooking, and you split the take. Or, a graphic designer could partner with a wedding invitation printing company to print wedding invitations, rehearsal dinner invitations , and bridal shower invitations.

LOW-COST WEDDING STARTUP

As you can see, even the most budget-strapped entrepreneur can enter the wedding space; while well-funded enterprises have enormous potential to profit from weddings.

How much do wedding-related business make?

The big question to answer, of course, is how much can you make by operating a wedding-related business? The answer ultimately depends on the size of your market (local or otherwise), typical costs in your area, and your ability to market your products or services and land clients. That said, the following details potential gross revenues for businesses that commonly serve the wedding industry (startup figures taken from Entrepreneur.com’s Business Idea Center).

Wedding venue

If the average couple spends $16,107 on its wedding venue, and your venue books 40 weddings per year, your gross would be $644,280.

Of course, This is before

  • Deducting your mortgage
  • Staff, Insurance
  • Other overhead expenses

Startup costs vary tremendously depending on the property, décor, and operational overhead.

Wedding photographer

Based on 40 weddings

Wedding photographers can make $111,320 before:

  • Overhead such as camera
  • Lighting equipment
  • Staff
  • Advertising

Since most weddings can be shot with just two photographers and you can advertise with little more than a business card and Facebook page, your equipment is really the only cost to enter this market. Startup costs can be as little as $2,000 .

Wedding planner

Wedding planners have an even lower cost to enter the market – all you need are some simple marketing materials such as business cards and brochures and perhaps a website and Facebook page – yet can make $2,037 per wedding .

At a clip of 40 weddings per year, that adds up to $81,480. Start a wedding planning business for less than $2,000.

Reception band

Forget the bar scene; bands charge an average of $4,156 to play a wedding. Play 40 per year, and your band can rake in $166,240. If it’s a four-piece band, that leaves each member with $41,560. Of course, you’ll incur expenses such as your instruments, amps, PA’s and monitors, and advertising.

Startup costs range from $2,000 to $10,000.

Reception DJ

Like a band, you’ll have to purchase good equipment (though probably not as much); unlike a band, you only need to pay yourself. Land 40 gigs and you could earn $49,800 . Startup costs could be as little as $10,000.

Wedding decorator or florist

As a wedding decorator or florist, you can sell retail products and charge an additional fee if you’re to also handle the decorating. Based on the average spend, you can earn $101,360 in revenue over 40 weddings; however, keep in mind that sum must cover your wholesale costs.

Startup costs can be as little as $2,000 or as high as $50,000, depending on whether you want to start from home or open a full retail shop with on-hand inventory.

Wedding videographer

Video weddings as a standalone service or add it to your photography business. You can also offer an add-on video editing service that highlights the most special moments of the couple’s big day. At $1,995 on average, videographers can earn $79,800 with relatively low overhead.

Startup costs are around the same as a photographer.

Bridal shop

Unlike some other wedding-related businesses, bridal shops can serve multiple weddings each week. The average wedding dress costs $1,564; sell 40 per year and that adds up to $62,560. However, you could easily double that number on wedding dresses alone – and this doesn’t include bridesmaid dresses and add-on accessories or custom tailoring services. You will, however, incur the overhead of having a retail space.

Expect to invest $5,000 to $50,000 in startup fees.

Tuxedo rental

Like bridal shops, tuxedo rental companies can service multiple weddings each week. You don’t even need to carry inventory, as several national brands allow you to take measurements and custom-order tuxedos to your door. That means your retail overhead can be minimal, and you can sell tuxedos to the groom as well as his groomsmen. The average tux sells for $196; so a wedding with a groom and four groomsmen would earn $980. Serve two weddings per weekend for 40 weeks (for a total of 80) and that adds up to $78,400 (plus accessories) less overhead. If you’re not carrying inventory, you can start up for less than $2,000.

Cake maker

The average wedding cake sells for $582, and you can bake as many as you can sell. Do two per week for 40 weeks and earn $46,560, less your costs and advertising. Partner with others, such as bridal shops and wedding planners, to promote your business for cheap and to avoid the overhead of your own retail space.

Startup out of your home for less than $2,000.

Wedding invitations

Graphic designers and printing companies can sell wedding invitations, and like some other businesses there’s no limit to the number of weddings you can serve on a given week. Couples spend an average of $462 for wedding invitations, which can also include save-the-date and RSVP cards . Sell invitations for 80 weddings per year to gross $36,960. Or, design customizable wedding invitation templates so couples can print their own unique wedding invitations. In addition to wedding invitations, most couples send thank-you cards once they return from their honeymoons; plus, you can create custom bridal shower invitations and rehearsal dinner invitations.

Start your own graphic design service for between $2,000 and $10,000, depending on what equipment and software you have on-hand.

Wedding caterer

Weddings average 144 guests at $71 per plate, which means the average wedding catering bill comes in at $10,224. Do 40 weddings annually to gross $408,960 – less materials, staff, cooking equipment, and advertising fees.

Startup fees range between $10,000 and $50,000.

Other businesses that commonly cash in on weddings include:

  • Ceremony venues
  • Destination weddings
  • Hotels
  • Party favor suppliers
  • Jewelers
  • Bartenders
  • Tent rental companies
  • Transportation companies (limousines, horse-drawn carriages, etc.)
  • Wedding officiants
  • Rehearsal dinner and bridal shower venues and invitations
  • Travel agents
  • Wedding hairstylist and makeup artist services
  • Table and chair rentals, perfect for offbeat wedding venues that do not have their own

Keep in mind the numbers provided here are for gross receipts; all expenses, overhead, costs-of-doing business, staff, insurances, and marketing fees will be deducted (along with taxes). Work on developing a formal business plan to help project realistic profits.

POTENTIAL GROSS REVENUES

Your options are practically unlimited

You don’t have to stick to the most obvious wedding-related businesses. Perhaps your local market is already saturated with wedding planners. That doesn’t mean you can’t launch your own wedding planning business. Remember, your performance will earn your name within the industry and create demand for your services.

Moreover, as Profitable Venture points out, you can delve into sub-niches for nearly any industry. For example, instead of being a “wedding planner” you can launch a wedding planning service that focuses on:

  • Theme weddings
  • Retro weddings
  • Ethnic weddings
  • Destination weddings
  • Luxury weddings
  • Budget weddings
  • Same-sex weddings
  • And more

Or, you could write a wedding planning guide and sell it online and in bridal shops.

That said, if you want to offer a different type of service there are plenty of unique and emerging wedding business to consider.

They include:

  • Wedding blogger (who makes money via advertising, affiliate marketing, and other services)
  • Online wedding services
  • Conflict-free diamond jeweler
  • Create personalized reception favors (water bottles, for example)
  • Wedding registry manager (even Dominos Pizza has a wedding registry!)
  • Wedding highlight real maker (collect clips and photos from the bride, groom, friends, and family to create a highlight video to be viewed at the reception)
  • Bridal boot camp classes
  • Wedding dance lessons for the bride, groom, and/or entire wedding party
  • Wedding insurance (in the event weather threatens the wedding, particularly for outdoor celebrations)
  • Outdoor wedding lighting expert
  • Pet wedding apparel
  • Wedding gift and bridesmaid/groomsmen gift retailer
  • Themed wedding officiant (put on your Elvis costume or don a fedora)
  • Custom bridal garters
  • Ice sculptures for elegant receptions
  • Photo booth rentals for receptions
  • Temporary outdoor dance floors
  • Bachelor/bachelorette party planner
  • Build wedding websites and coordinate social media to help get the word out, collect RSVPs, and document weddings. Custom wedding hashtag, anyone?
  • Wedding assistant – not every couple wants to hire a wedding planner, but a wedding assistant can perform critical tasks such as picking up flowers, ensuring all the groomsmen have been fitted for their tuxes, and that the limousine will be arriving on time
  • Websites, catalogs, and trade magazines for the wedding industry

Check out Entrepreneur.com and Profitable Venture for more great wedding-related business ideas.

Set your wedding business up for success

Choosing a wedding business to start is only the tip of the iceberg; once you settle on an idea, the challenging work begins. Start by creating a formal business plan that forces you to research the industry and your market, and to make realistic projections for startup and operation costs, business growth, and sustainability. Marketing case studies can prove excellent resources, such as this case study on how Ellen’s Dress & Bridal Boutique committed to a marketing makeover that led to 20 bridal dress sales in a single day (also featured on an episode of Small Business Revolution).

As you can see in the case study and video, Ellen’s Dress & Bridal Boutique followed a strategy that included:

  • Defining the problem
  • Planning
  • Business branding
  • Logo design
  • Retail packaging
  • Website design
  • Email marketing
  • Print marketing
  • Social media marketing

In this case, a multi-channel strategy helped propel the company to new heights.

If you’re seeking a great business idea for your startup, the wedding industry is full of excellent opportunities. As with any business, you need to conduct your own research, write a solid business plan, and develop a sound marketing strategy to compete against existing companies. Doing so will lend you the greatest chance to launch, grow, and succeed with your wedding business.