The Value of Weddings

I have been wanting to write this blog entry for quite some time, but I haven’t had the opportunity to give it proper attention until now.

A few months ago, I attended two weddings within a few weeks of one another. As I observed both weddings, I began to think about how weddings themselves hold no instrumental value. Rather, they have ceremonial value.

Marriages often involve some type of a celebratory ceremony where friends and family gather to witness two people commit themselves to each other for the rest of their lives. These ceremonies have different ranges and can be anywhere from extravagant and lavish to simplistic and intimate. Traditionally, a licensed official performs the ceremony in front of all the witnesses followed by a reception where everyone celebrates the new chapter in the couple’s lives.

Weddings are a celebration. They add no additional value to two people’s love for one another nor do they provide any instrumental enhancement for a marriage. A couple who have an extravagant wedding do not love each other more than a couple who have a simple wedding–rather, the former couple are participating in conspicuous consumption. And a couple who decide to be married at a courthouse are still married in the eyes of the government. The recognition of their marriage is no less meaningful than a couple who have a sunset beach wedding.

Weddings may not have any instrumental value–only ceremonial value–but they do create economic value. If we examine closely what is involved when it comes to planning a wedding, there is a lot of economic activity involved; however, that economic activity varies based on the couple and their budget.

I did some research and found this information here from the Library of Congress (LOC). The LOC identifies some available services when it comes to a wedding: dresses, consultants, food, videography, disc jockey, favors/bridesmaids gifts and destination weddings. The demand for these services creates jobs for individuals. After all, we need bakers to make the cake, cooking staff to prepare the meals, waiters and waitresses to serve the food, tailors to fit the clothes and so forth.

There is demand for other services such as travel, hospitality, decorations, rental of banquet hall for reception, etc. Depending on the complexity of the wedding, the list of services could go on and on.

I couldn’t find official statistics on weddings, but I did stumble across the following website here. It provides some statistics for weddings in 2011 (I can’t assure the accuracy of these numbers). As you can see, the average amount of money spent on a wedding is quite high.

Weddings are a celebration of a lifetime commitment of love. While they may have only ceremonial value, there are certainly economic benefits from them.

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