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USM researchers write first-of-its-kind economic analysis of Maine’s growing wedding industry

cover of Marry Me report

The Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at University of Southern Maine has partnered with the newly created Maine Wedding Report to issue “Marry ME,” a first-of-its kind economic analysis of Maine’s growing wedding industry.

Weddings and wedding tourism contributed an estimated $937 million in total output to the Maine economy, supporting over 13,600 jobs in 2017. This includes ripple effects that accrue in the economy from spending by supplier businesses and industry employee paychecks. The direct spending on weddings at Maine businesses and organizations totaled $205.9 million.

 "The scale of the wedding industry and its contribution to the Maine economy has gone largely unnoticed, until now,” said Ryan Wallace, director of the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research. The center is part of the Muskie Institute of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine.

 "The “Marry ME” report demonstrates how weddings not only contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy, but are also a key driver of tourism to the state, attracting upwards of 1 million visitors each year," Wallace said.

 In addition to direct spending, overnight wedding visitors are estimated to have spent $345 million at Maine businesses and organizations during their stay. Meanwhile, total taxes resulting from weddings and wedding visitors are estimated to add about $40 million locally and $32 million to state coffers, according to the 29-page report.

 Nadra Edgerley and Heidi Curry, wedding business owners and advocates for establishing Maine as a premier destination wedding location, created the Maine Wedding Report and commissioned ”Marry ME.”

 “We feel it is important for not only the State, but the private sector to begin to recognize the contribution the wedding industry has on the economy and the growth we can achieve by attracting a larger percentage of destination weddings,” Curry said. “As tourism is such an important part of the Maine economy, it is important to understand how the wedding industry here in the state can benefit businesses and industries outside of the scope of the traditional wedding vendor.”

As Maine grows as a wedding destination, USM is incorporating weddings into its Tourism and Hospitality program.

“Maine is a great place for a destination wedding because it has a perfect backdrop for an outdoor ceremony with natural beauty, and rustic charm,” said Sara Ghezzi, a Tourism and Hospitality faculty member.

Tracy Michaud, an assistant professor in Tourism & Hospitality, agreed.

“This industry contributes significantly to the tourism economy of Maine,” Michaud said. “It is important that we incorporate event management classes into our USM Tourism & Hospitality curriculum. We have an event planning certificate as well. A number of our students have completed wedding-based internships with wedding planners, weddings venues, and caterers. Currently we have USM Tourism and Hospitality alumni working in all aspects of the wedding industry.”