Paying More for the White Dress
In an article for The New York Times Magazine, Catherine Rampell explores the “wedding markup.” While planning her own wedding, Rampell was surprised by the lack of transparency in the wedding industry, even with all the wedding-related sites on the Internet:
Wedding vendors seemed to be trying to size me up to figure out how much I’m willing to pay; consumer advocates say this is a common practice, as is charging more for a given service for a wedding than for a “family function” or “corporate event.” Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, recalls that when he was married over a decade ago, one caterer initially quoted him about $60 a head, and then jacked up the price to about $90 per person after realizing the function was a wedding. These are forms of what economists call price discrimination; it sounds unfair, but it’s perfectly legal, and it’s easier to get away with in markets where there’s little price transparency and consumers are relatively uninformed.
Many of the industry experts Rampell interviewed attributed the markup to the fact that brides are usually less-informed “first-time shoppers,” and also to the “once-in-a-lifetime logic”: