(WBIR - Knoxville) We have seen the signs that the economy is improving: new car sales are up, unemployment is down, and people are willing to splurge once again.
But the wedding business is another indicator things are looking up. That was apparent at Sunday's semi-annual Knoxville Pink Bridal Show.
"You only do it once. So I want it to be the big special day," said bride-to-be Danielle Varner.
Wedding vendors featured at the show, from photographers to bakeries, said they are seeing sales back to pre-recession levels.
"We've just been, thankfully, actually busier than normal," said Amanda Graves, event coordinator at White Lace and Promises bridal boutique.
According to wedding website, the knot.com, newlyweds nationwide spent $28,427 on their nuptials in 2012. That's the most since 2008.
"A bride's wedding day is probably the most important day of her life," said The Wedding Market wedding planner, Brenda Johnson.
She said her local brides are spending an average of $20,000 to $25,000 per wedding, up from $15,000 during the recession.
She said lately brides are splurging on the details.
"They're doing custom favors, photo booths, ice cream bars," she said.
Pink Bride creator, Fred Jacob, said while bridal business is bouncing back, it's different than before.
"I think what happened during the economy changes, wedding professionals just got smarter," said Jacob. "Maybe cut back in areas-maybe in staff- to where they could still operate. Where in 2008, 2009 we were all thinking we were going to cover the world. Maybe we backed up now to cover Knoxville, Tennessee again."
He said another change is how the weddings are paid for. The brides' parents aren't the only ones shelling out the cash.
"You have the brides and the grooms contributing as are the future in laws on both sides," he said.
According theknot.com, the most expensive purchase of the wedding is the venue, averaging around $13,000 per wedding in 2012. The least expensive was the groom's tuxedo at around $200.