June 15 – 1: Why even wedding industry reporters should know basic statistics

I really enjoyed this Slate article about the price of an “average” wedding. Although I got married almost two years ago and never plan to have another wedding, I still read almost any article I come across that talks about weddings. I even have a wedding blog or two in my feed reader that I read regularly.

Weddings are celebrations of love – both a couple’s love for each other, and the community’s love for the couple. And I find them fascinating. In part, I like looking at them from an anthropological point of view – thinking about the different traditions and where they have come from, thinking about how weddings have changed over the generations, or how they differ from culture to culture (or subculture to subculture). I also like the pretty pictures that usually go along with wedding articles. Even within a relatively traditional, conservative wedding, a celebration that has a fairly set formula for what is going to take place and how everything should look, I am amazed at the variation and creativity that people show, the details large and small that they put hours or days into developing.

But beyond my interest in weddings, I loved this article because its author grasped basic middle school math, and pointed out the difference between reporting a mathematical average (also known as the “mean”) versus what “average” means to most people when they hear it. And how, at least in the context of an article about “average” wedding budgets, the median is a more accurate “average” than the mean. Go read the article for the reasons why.

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