The Right Coast

September 29, 2005
The Economics of Brides and Grooms
By Mike Rappaport

The question:

Why do brides often spend thousands of dollars on wedding dresses they will never wear again, while grooms often rent cheap tuxedos, even though they will attend many formal social events in the future?
The answer:

Because most brides wish to make a fashion statement on their wedding day, a rental company would have to carry a huge stock of distinctive gowns - perhaps 40 or 50 in each size. Each garment would thus be rented only infrequently, perhaps just once very four or five years. So the company would have to charge a rental fee greater than the purchase price of the garment just to cover its costs. In contrast, because grooms are willing to settle for a standard style, a rental company can serve this market with an inventory of only two or three tuxedos in each size. Each suit can thus be rented several times a year, enabling a rental fee that is only a fraction of its purchase price.
Both the question and answer were supplied by a student in one of Robert Frank's introductory microeconomics classes. Read Frank's quite interesting discussion about how to teach and learn. (Hat tip: Marginal Revolution).