The economy of matrimony

Wedding dresses by Nicholas Shannon KulmacLove may be blind, but marriage isn’t cheap. Just ask the British royals, who paid an estimated $40 million for the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Outside of royal
circles, the price tag for nuptials is smaller – about $27,800
according to, a popular online wedding resource. But even that figure is nothing to sneeze at for a tying-the-knot Clark County couple.

Personal income was $35,789 per capita in 2008, according to an analysis by the Washington Employment Security Department. Couple that figure with the lingering effects of the Great Recession, and it all translates to lower wedding budgets and more do-it-yourself brides.

However, just as spring hits its stride and the wedding season gets under way, experts say there are signs of recovery in the wedding market.

Arvid and Vicki Anderson own and run Anderson Lodge in Amboy. The Andersons, who give wedding parties free reign to either call in professionals or call in volunteer help from family and friends for the big day, said they saw a big uptick in discount weddings over the last couple of years. But that didn’t translate into less bookings at the lodge, where prices range from $2,000 for winter weddings to $5,300 for summertime ones.

“The recession did not affect us at all,” Arvid Anderson said, figuring that a Clark County wedding is still, by far, cheaper than a destination wedding in, say, Hawaii.

Of course Clark County couples continued to get married and take vows during the recession’s height, but experts say it was on a reduced budget. Now, with flickers of economic hope, business is improving for some and bustling for others.

Beautiful Brides in downtown Vancouver by NSKKelle Herring, owner of Beautiful Brides For Less in Vancouver, can be counted among the bustling set. Her business caters to the budget-minded bride, offering wedding dresses for $400 and less. Herring reports that business was steady during the recession’s height, but this year has blown out her expectations.

“We definitely have had our best year yet so far,” Herring said. “The volume is much bigger. I’ve placed more orders for inventory in these three months, it’s been amazing.”

Photographer Tara Thackeray, owner of One Love Photography by Tara, has also enjoyed improved business of late, having shot 15 weddings last season. Recently, she even raised her prices – a move that made for some pensive moments when she wondered if the market was really ready to absorb the increase.

“But I didn’t end up having to lower my prices,” said Thackeray, who has 12 weddings booked so far this season. Her rates range from $500 to $3,000.

Wedding Chapel by Buck HeidrickWhile many in the wedding industry said bookings are on the rise, Vicki Greenleaf, who manages Windsor Weddings at the Academy Chapel in Vancouver (where chapel rentals ranges from $275 to $900), said they’re not quite back to pre-recession levels.

Greenleaf suggested that gauging the success of the season is a bit more complicated these days, because more brides are taking less time to plan their weddings. She said the norm has typically been eight months to a year to book and plan a wedding. “Now, I have more people who book four to six months out,” she said.

Back at Anderson Lodge, Vicki Anderson said she has no summertime weekends left and has already booked a quarter of next summer’s wedding season.

“Weddings, I tell ya, everyone just wants to get married.”


Anderson Lodge

18410 N.E. 399th St.,


(360) 247-6660


Beautiful Brides For Less

114 E. Evergreen Blvd.,


(360) 737-1767


One Love Photography by Tara


(360) 606-0953


Windsor Weddings at The Academy

400 E. Evergreen Blvd., Suite 216,


(360) 696-4884

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