The intent of this page is to present information specific to some of the component parts of the "wedding industry," present some thoughts on strategy for doing more research, and/or include a few important points specific to that area. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of the parts of a wedding and is only intended to be the beginning of the discussion on research strategy.
Many times keywords, Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), or North American Industrial Classification Codes (NAICS) will be helpful in finding information because of the indexing used and the organizing of data. For example, the following codes can be used to search for companies in databases like Data Axle Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) or D&B. They can also be used to locate information in the Economic Census. This Census comes out every 5 years and has information on sales and numbers of establishments (national and by state). To look for current information use the most current version of NAICS codes, but if you are doing historical research look to see what the previous NAICS codes were. It may also be helpful to use the North American Product Classification System (NAICPS) hierarchical structure consisting of sections, subsections, divisions, groups, subgroups, and trilateral products.
We have also developed a guide Doing Industry Research that will offer more detailed guidance and additional resources.
When looking for data on the size of this industry, the first thing to note is that, while there is a lot of money in the wedding industry, gowns represent only one segment of the industry.
Second, wedding gowns are part of a larger women's clothing industry -- depending on how the business reports itself and how deep the search functionality is of the database, separating wedding dresses from the larger industry may be difficult. There are stores devoted to selling wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses but changing attitudes towards weddings and wedding attire by millennial brides has meant that this industry has seen changes. Alfred Angel a chain bridal store shut down in 2017 and David's Bridal filed for bankruptcy in November 2018. This is coupled with the rise in renting of wedding dresses and the move toward customization and has given rise to indie designers and bespoke wedding dress online retailers.
It might help to use the two NAICS codes that are applicable to help you find companies and numbers (that is, sales figures).Databases like Mergent Intellect and Data Axle Reference Solutions (formerly ReferenceUSA) allow searches by the NAICS codes given above, while other databases still use SIC codes. To have a complete picture, however, it is necessary to also consider those establishments that sell used gowns and those offering rental gowns. Lastly, neither of those take into account those women who have someone make their dress. There are SIC codes for all of these others but not for the instance where a friend or family member makes the dress. If you are interested in the history, overtime NAICS code numbers. For example the below are from the 2012 NAICS codes.
315210 Bridal dresses or gowns apparel contractors
315240 Bridal dresses or gowns, custom made
315240 Bridal dresses or gowns, women's and girls', cut and sewn from purchased fabric (except apparel contractors)
448190 Bridal gown shops (except custom)
532220 Bridal wear rental
Lastly, there are many definitions of wedding dress. When most people in the U.S. think of wedding dresses, they think in terms of the traditional long, white dress. However, there are brides who only buy a nice outfit and go to the judge's chambers and others who plan "ethnic" weddings where the bride wears a traditional costume from her country.
You may have more luck with industry information by searching through articles and gathering snippets. I would suggest searching in wedding/bridal magazines such as -Bride's, Modern Bride, as well as clothing trade magazines such as Women’s Wear Daily, all of which cover this area. In addition, there are full-text databases that local public and university libraries subscribe to such as General Onefile, (which has all three of the above titles) and ABI-Inform, among others. Also, both databases index articles. For example, General Onefile uses the index terms Wedding, Costume and Wedding Supplies, and Services Industry). One caveat, many of the articles will be more fashion-oriented and less business- oriented.
If you want to find information on this industry, try one of the associations included on the Association & Commercial Websites page or contact a local consultant through your phone directory or commercial wedding planning web sites and see what they may offer.
These three industries are ones where some of their business is not wedding related. There may not necessarily be caterers whose only business it to cater only to weddings. The same could be said about those providing music and video. There is an association for videographers on the Associations & Commercial Websites page.
Finding industry information for favors also presents difficulties: the biggest of which is that the choice of favor is individual -- it could be anything the bride/groom chooses. There may be things that are more likely to be chosen (picture frames, jewelry, etc.) but these items are not solely for the wedding industry. There is no way to distinguish between those that are bought for weddings and those that are not. Also, the places where favors or gifts can be bought is not limited to the "wedding favor store." Most stores sell a variety of products and will not mark items specifically as "wedding favors." There may be estimates of the average amount that a bride spends per party favor/gift, but such "averages" fail to take into account the number of people to whom she is giving a gift - which can vary from one to five to eight, and on up. Searching through publications geared to gift markets may be one way to find information on such gifts.
There has been an increase in what is known as destination weddings - those weddings held where neither the bride or the groom lives or necessarily has family. It has been estimated the one in ten weddings are destination weddings - a massive increase over the last decade.
Modern couples are often older then they were 15 or 20 years ago, they are often more well traveled, and/or they may want something more exotic. Top destinations for U.S. couples include Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, and in Europe, southern France and Italy. Resorts and hotels in hot areas are becoming increasingly proactive in their wedding business by putting together packages and offering more services for those seeking wedding services.
There is no single statistical source for data on this segment of the wedding industry; rather much of the information is anecdotal and derived from surveys/questions to hotels/resorts, couples, wedding planners, and others. Thus, article searches may yield the best information on this topic.
Like other parts of this industry, venues can be used for different types of events. The NAICS code 531120 Lessors of Nonresidential Buildings includes venues like Banquet hall rental or leasing.
To understand the trends and issues, search full-text databases using appropriate keywords. If you are interested in researching particular types of venues you will need to include that in your search parameters. Additionally, internet research on similar venues may also be helpful in understanding the challenges certain types of venue particularly if there isn't much written in articles.