ANALYZING DATA – Holly Foster Media


If you’ve been following my blog recently you know that I produce a podcast called Choosing Your Reflection, which is based on my two experiences: choosing my own wedding dress and helping my daughter choose hers. The goal?

Through discussions with guests we attempt to “unravel the mystique that exists around choosing a wedding outfit.”

During the early stages of production I also created and distributed an online Wedding Outfit Survey to assist with gathering insight on why people make the choices they do. In addition to basic demographic questions like gender, age, and relationship status, the survey also included a key question:

What was the MOST important factor guiding your choice of wedding outfit?

– Cost
– Wedding Theme
– Body Shape
– Comfort
– Perfection
– Other

When I composed the question I thought I had covered the bases pretty well. I also assumed that cost would be the predominant answer. I was close, but I was wrong.

The top ranking answer from 165 respondents? Body shape.

That being said, since cost is such an important attribute of the process I believe it warrants further investigation.


For most people, at least in my demographic, cost is a constraint. So I dug up some stats on what the average bride spends on her wedding dress. No stats on the men yet — sorry guys!

The most expensive region was the Mid-Atlantic (e.g. New York and New Jersey), while the northern Midwestern states (e.g. North and South Dakota) came in at the low end of the scale.


How about looking at how many couples actually got married in each state? Here’s a visual of that information from 2019 published by The Wedding Report.

  • Wyoming couples numbered 4163, the lowest across the nation.
  • California came in at a whopping 214, 562 weddings, putting it in first place.

Finding some data on the cost of a wedding outfit as a percentage of total income would also be interesting, as well as taking state population density into account. Here’s a map that contains median individual income across the country.

And let’s not forget that some states are much less densely populated than others.


As I spent more time with the survey results I made an interesting qualitative discovery — the other category contained 21 responses. Things like:

  • Color
  • Convenience
  • The way it made me feel
  • My husband-to-be’s opinion
  • Mother
  • Pregnancy
  • That I could wear a real bra with my dress

These 21 answers, each taken by themselves, are outliers.

In statistics, an outlier is a data point that differs significantly from other observations (“Outlier,” 2020).

Using the survey statistics, my own experience, and what I’ve learned from the guests we’ve interviewed on the podcast I’m confident I can provide some insight as to what drives people during the wedding outfit process.


“When we reason about quantitative evidence, certain methods for displaying and analyzing data are better than others” (Tufte, 1997, p.27).

In his book Visual explanations: Images and quantities, evidence and narrative American statistician Edward Tufte provides guidance for providing what he calls “truthful, credible, and precise findings” from data (Tufte, 1997).

  1. Place the data in an appropriate context for assessing cause and effect.
  2. Make quantitative comparisons.
  3. Consider alternative explanations and contrary cases.
  4. Assess possible errors in the numbers reported.

By adding addtional data sources to my existing dataset and using Tufte’s method I hope to shed some light on the wedding outfit traditions that exist in the United States.

Stay tuned!

until nxt time …


Average Income by State, Median, Top & Percentiles [2019]. (2019, November 4). DQYDJ.

Browse Markets for Wedding Statistics. (n.d.).

Outlier. (2020). In Wikipedia. Page Version ID: 966353403

Population density in the U.S., by state 2019 | Statista. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2020, from

Shaw, G. (2019, May 23). What the average bride spends on her wedding dress in every state—Insider.

Tufte, E. R. (1997). Visual explanations: Images and quantities, evidence and narrative. Graphics Press.

Tufte, E. R. (2006). Beautiful evidence. Graphics Press.

Header photo by Vladislav Reshetnyak from Pexels

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