Monthly Archives: May 2017

Chicago Ranked As One Of The Most Expensive Cities For Tying The Knot

Not to rain on your wedding day, but the price tag that comes with getting married in Chicago is one of the highest in the country. This is according to an annual study by The Knot, which surveyed almost 13,000 couples about their big-day spending. Chicago ranked as the fourth most expensive city for getting hitched.

With an average of 2.4 million weddings performed each year, The Knot reports that the average 2016 wedding cost $35,329, increasing by $2,688 from 2015. Manhattan bent the curve quite a bit, taking the top spot with a $78,464. Long Island checked in second, costing the average couple $67,831, and was followed by New Jersey, costing $62,606.

Then there was Chicago, where the average wedding costs $60,035, still almost double the national average. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, the average cost of a Chicago wedding is actually higher than the average income in the United States, which was $56,516 as of 2015.

According to The Knot, the increase in wedding costs is due to heightened attention to detail, not the number of wedding guests. While the average wedding has 165 guests, couples are focusing more on guest experience.

“Wedding spend continues to rise, but at the same time, guest lists are shrinking as couples spend more per guest to create an unforgettable experience for those closest to them,” Kellie Gould, editor in chief of The Knot, said in a press release. “Couples are also using their wedding day to make their first big statement as a couple. From invitations to the reception band, couples are spending more to put their personal stamp on every detail.”

A 2014 study by The Knot shows that the average engagement lasts 14 months. This time is now up to 15 months, according to the most recent survey, giving couples one extra month to plan every detail of their expensive big day. According to The Knot’s press release, couples are investing portions of their budgets on details like signature cocktails, photo booths, and fireworks. The Knot also mentioned that live painters, aerialists, and acrobats could be among the top 2017 wedding trends.

Couples are also spending an average of $16,107 on a venue, an investment that is making its mark in Chicago as well. In a statement to Chicago Tribune, Charlene Liang, owner and planner of Sweetchic Events, said that some of the most popular city locations are The Ivy Room, Ovation, and The Chicago History Museum.

“We are lucky to have such a variety of venues in the city, but they are expensive to rent,” she said.

As these results continue to make headlines, some lifestyle writers are pointing out potential flaws in the data. Anthony Todd speculates in the Chicagoist that the survey results could be exclusive to more privileged demographics, skewing the results upwards significantly.

“Is it possible that the data is wrong? Well, it’s from TheKnot.com, which means that the only respondents were the type of wedded folks who would use TheKnot.com: a large chunk of people, but one that I’d guess skews upward in terms of economic status,” he writes. “It also assumes that the average couple is buying a $6,000 engagement ring, and factors that into the cost of the wedding. In other words, before you feel bad about not keeping up with the (very expensive) Joneses, know that this data might be a bit flawed.”

Illinois Senate Bill Would Tax Home Maintenance, Worrying Repair Workers

Illinois State legislators are mulling over a bill that would add a 6.25% sales tax on repair and maintenance services. My Journal Courier reports that the bill is raising concern among homeowners and businesses alike, as it would raise the price of home repairs.

While lawmakers have not revealed the specifics of the bill, My Journal Courier reports that the bill will likely be similar to one in Wisconsin. This bill taxes home repairs on appliances like furnaces, water heaters, and HVAC systems.

This bill could impact projects like bathroom maintenance, which according to the National Association of Home Builders, 78% of rennovations and are the most-requested type of home improvement. This would impact local plumbers like Lewis Williams, who said in a statement to My Journal Courier that the bill will take business away from service companies as people try to perform these remodels themselves.

“It’ll drive more people to get unlicensed work done,” Williams said. “When that happens, it can end up being dangerous for them. Things may not get done up to code. I see more homeowners taking a risk and doing the work themselves.”

With this added financial burden, some homeowners will likely choose to not renovate at all. With 35% of remodels involving the whole home, entire houses may sit untended. This could lower the quality of entire communities, David Padgett, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Southwest Illinois, said in a statement to SW Illinois News.

“People already don’t like to maintain their homes because of cost,” he said. “That brings down neighborhoods.”

Further adding to the lists of inconveniences for homeowners, avoiding home maintenance and remodels will eventually lower the home’s resale value. Even a minor kitchen remodel has an ROI of 82.7% . Without this convenience, homeowners could be missing out on successful selling in the future. This blow to the housing market would add to the list of industries that could be effected by this tax. In a statement to My Journal Courier, Home Builders Association of Illinois President Allen Drewes said that people not purchasing renovation services could be detrimental to the state’s already fragile economy.

“It’s bad enough our state’s economy can’t seem to recover from the depths of the recession, and not enough people feel comfortable they will have their job tomorrow to invest in their homes for the long term here,” he said.

He added that legislators should be making an effort to create the opposite effect, building up the economy be encouraging renovations and the hiring of service workers.

“This tax will lead to layoffs, higher costs and less work for businesses like mine, and that means I’m spending less money here in the restaurants and at the stores,” Drewes said. “If we want to get more revenue from home projects, give incentives for people to do the projects — don’t make it harder.”

O’Hare Revamps Security Regulations Following United Airlines Incident

Officials at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport have changed regulations on how they will handle onboard disturbances after a disturbing, viral incident on a United aircraft.

USA Today reports that the Chicago police will now handle all unrest that happens on the planes, rather than aviation security officers. These officers will only board the aircraft for medical emergencies or urgent threats.

This decision follows the April 9 incident in which security officers dragged Dr. David Dao, a physician from Kentucky, off of an aircraft at O’Hare to make space for United Airlines crew members. United officials asked the officers to respond in this way, according to USA Today. Dao lost two teeth and sustained a concussion, but United became the target of national outrage when video of the incident went viral.

O’Hare has continuously ranked as one of the busiest airports in the United States. With about 30.78 million citizens traveling overseas in 2014, these airports do not have room to skip security measures. Ginger Evans, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, told a senate panel last week that the security officers were not following standard procedure and have been suspended. She said that by adjusting the policy at O’Hare, the department hopes to prevent future incidents like this.

“While we cannot reverse what took place, as a department we are taking action to ensure this never happens again,” Evans said at the hearing.

United said that they will no longer call airport security in response to problems like this, Reuters reports. Evans also said that security officers and Chicago police will no longer be involved in any customer service issues at the airport.

“These actions will not be tolerated,” Evans said in her statement. “Our policies are clear that force should only be used when absolutely necessary to protect the security and safety of our passengers.”

Commercial airlines are not always the most comfortable setting to begin with, and passenger disturbances take this to a new level. USA Today reports that some of the senators at the hearing brought up other issues that airline customers face, including cramped seats and cancellations caused by technology failures. There is a reason why business people report a 40% decrease in productivity while flying commercial. American Airlines even announced last week that they would reduce space between seats — again — from 31 to 29 inches.

Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo. and head of the panel, said that this incident brings up cause for airlines to listen to public dissatisfaction and outrage, according to USA Today.

“It’s impossible to ignore the public outcry at recent incidents involving passengers, airline employees, and airport police,” he said at the hearing. “This incident was nothing short of disturbing.”

Following the April incident, many people put out a call on social media to boycott United Airlines, showing that reputation matters. With one in nine U.S. jobs depending on travel and tourism, any mass disturbance in the leisure industry could be detrimental to millions of jobs.

“I think it may be time for a new passenger bill of rights,” Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, said at the hearing.