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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Couples planning weddings may see the first step toward the rest of their lives together and a venue full of family and friends, but savvy retailers see a blank catalog waiting to be filled and eager consumers ready to make sentimental spending splurges.
Isn't love grand.
Behind all the designer dresses and tuxedos, fondant-embalmed cakes and silly love songs is an industry raking in $74 billion a year, says Amy Eisinger, editor of TheKnot.com's sister site WeddingChannel.com. Stripping away the honeymoon, registry and other nonceremonial items, Eisinger says spending on the day of the wedding alone brings in roughly $36.2 billion each year.
Though wedding market research firm The Wedding Report notes that average wedding costs dropped from $28,730 in 2007 to $19,580 in 2009, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com Real Weddings study found that only 31% of brides said the economy affected their wedding budget last year, down from the 34% who said as much a year earlier. As a result, the average price of a wedding soared to $24,070 last year as unwavering brides and grooms stood their ground amid growing consumer confidence.
"Weddings are recession-resistant at the very least," Eisinger says. "Brides have been planning this day for a long time, and families have been awaiting this day for a long time, and they're not compromising on the things they want."
Increasingly, couples aren't putting a price tag on their ideal weddings. According to the Real Weddings survey, 42% of couples with weddings last year went over budget, while 16% had no budget at all. With so much money on the table being spent so freely, it's little wonder retailers and services are going out of their way to wring couples and their families of every wedding dollar and slap their brand on one of the biggest days in their consumers' lives. The following 10 companies have made weddings their business, and business for Wedding Inc. is booming: