Weddingnomics: The High Price of Signaling

A blog about business and economics.
April 4 2012 7:50 AM

Weddingnomics: The High Price of Signaling

Planet Money's Caitlin Kenney teams up with Slate V to investigate why wedding dresses are so darn expensive:

It's a great video. This is a subject that's of interest to me since I'll be getting married on April 14, but my fiancée and I aren't especially tradition-minded and it turns out to be amazing what you can save by just not getting "wedding" stuff. She has a lovely dress and we have a nice space rented out with good food and plentiful booze where everyone can celebrate, and all for much less than the average American wedding even though I don't feel like we've been skimping on stuff.


So to Kenney's points about signaling, I would add that framing and context matters. We don't drive great bargains on wedding-related things because we don't want to see ourselves and be seen by others as being stingy about such an important event. So if you're purchasing wedding-related items in a marketplace where everyone else is also shopping for a wedding, you're looking at an environment where the prices are systematically higher. By contrast, if you shop in a normal store then even if you, personally, are acting in a relatively price-insensitive way the fact that everyone else is driving a harder bargain helps you out. If you're determined to be traditional, there's no way around this but the price you pay for self-selecting into a niche market is pretty high no matter what strategy you adopt.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.