June 26, 2008 -- It may not buy love, but money certainly pays the bills.
And weddings are costing a whole lot of it, averaging more than $27,000, according to a recent survey commissioned by The Knot Inc., a publicly traded wedding media and services company.With the dress alone reaching into the thousands of dollars, plus more spending on cakes and photography, for instance, every penny counts, especially in these tough economic times.So one bride in Virginia Beach, Va., got creative and turned to the Internet, auctioning off a spot in her bridal party to the highest eBay bidder.Kelly Gray and her fiancé, Karl Gau, both 23, were trying to plan their wedding on a tight budget. Their combined income is about $32,000, on which they support a 1-year-old child.The couple tried to cut corners wherever they could, and they aren't alone. Many brides are planning weddings on a shoe-string budget."There are brides out there willing to put together their own floral arrangements, brides who ask a friend to be a photographer," said Antonia Van der Meer, editor of Modern Bride magazine.When one of her bridesmaids had the idea to raise some quick cash to pay for the $7,000 wedding, Gray decided to give it a shot.Gray, a hairdresser, began the eBay auction and watched the bids pile up."I can't sleep at night," Gray said. "I go to bed and then wake up an hour later -- and run to the computer."With the top bid at $5,700, the auction ended Wednesday night, and the winner was, surprisingly, a man named "Nick" who told Gray that he was raising his own bid to $10,000.But it turned out "Nick" was actually a representative for the owners of Dr. Pepper and Snapple. And he won't be in the wedding. Instead, the company is launching an online competition to decide who Gray's bridesmaid should be -- and they say it could even be a surprise celebrity.The amount of money and media attention is more than Gray ever expected."We can have a honeymoon," she said with glee. "I wanted my wedding, now we can have a honeymoon."