Millennials, as a generation that came to age around both the Internet revolution and the turn of the millennia, have garnered some broad generalizations.
They are categorized as entitled narcissists who spend tens of thousands on education, all while simultaneously being stingy and frugal. While these stereotypes may come across as contradictory, they are backed by statistics time and time again, making geared marketing complicated, and therefore the generational trends all that more intriguing. While the stereotypes have negative connotations, they denote financial frugality, fierce resourcefulness and a strong reverence of higher education.
Of particular interest is how a group so vastly different from generations before handles weddings. Are they more likely to desire over-the-top venues, aligning with the entitlement stereotype, or more laid back and intimate affairs, more closely affiliated with the frugality sentiment? As recent research illustrates, like most things Millennials, the answer is a complicated “yes.”
The Knot Weds Trends And Traditions In Comprehensive Study
Popular wedding website, TheKnot.com (managed by XO Group Inc (NYSE: XOXO)) publishes an annual survey from the previous year’s brides detailing all things wedding.
As the “#1 multiplatform wedding resource,” the Knot provides the most comprehensive research on wedding trends on an annual basis. According to the company, “The study includes national and regional statistics on the average cost of a wedding, how it is budgeted, the average number of wedding guests, spend per guest, wedding style trends and other key statistics related to weddings in America.”
From the most recent study, the following statistics emerged:
- Average Wedding Cost, Ex-Honeymoon: $31,213
- Average Wedding Dress Cost: $1,357
- Average Bride Age: 29
- Average Groom Age: 31
- Average Number Of Guests: 136
The study noted these trends, as well:
- Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/White (44 percent), blue (37 percent), pink (28 percent), metallic (26 percent), purple (23 percent), with dark blue on a continued popularity streak, up from 10 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2014
- Destination Weddings: 24 percent
- Smartphone Usage: 61 percent of participants used smartphones, with 71 percent accessing TheKnot.com specifically; 61 percent also stated they used smartphones to research wedding dresses and 57 percent said they researched vendors via their smartphones.
- Personalization: “Couples are showing their unique style by choosing unexpected places to wed,” according to the study. “Historic buildings/home make up 14 percent in 2014, compared with only 12 percent in 2009, and farms make up 6 percent in 2014, up from 3 percent in 2009. While banquet halls (22 percent), country clubs (11 percent) and hotels (11 percent) are still popular options for couples, about 40 percent are looking for unusual venues that better reflect their personality.” Also of note, a 13 percent decrease in “church” weddings was highlighted, “28 percent of couples held their ceremony in a religious institution, down from 41 percent in 2009.”
- Less On Ceremony, More On Reception: Musicians, catering and cake spend were all on the rise in 2014, while spending decreased for the ceremony itself.
- Who Pays: The bride and groom, and the bride’s parents, each pay an equal 43 percent, while the groom’s parents were noted to contribute 12 percent to the wedding. According to the study, only 12 percent of couples foot the entire bill themselves.
- Budgeting: 45 percent of respondents went over budget, while 26 percent stayed within their budget and just 6 percent came out ahead. Surprisingly, couples without a budget increased from 17 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2014.
Source: PR Newswire
What It All Means
Marriages may be taking place later in life, leading some to think that in regards to financing, the bride and groom as adults in their mid- to late-twenties would be able to pay without reliance on others.
However, with Millennials predominating the space, simple linear assumptions quickly dissipate.
While it would seem logical that a generation marrying older would be more inclined to pay their own way or budget more conservatively, the percentage of Millennials carrying substantial debt is significant. Furthermore, while Millennials seek independence, the broad trend of 20-somethings boomeranging back into their parents’ homes relates nicely with the noted trend that the bride’s parents still contribute substantially to the wedding festivities. Additionally, it may come as a surprise that with such a proclivity toward frugality, spending is on the rise across most budgeting subsectors; however, within the context of a generation that tends to desire immediate gratification and equal treatment regardless of circumstances, these seeming contradictions fade.
In other words, while these trends may seem messy, they do illustrate the complications and contradictions many other professionals have noted within the generation.
For The Future Bride (And Her Family) And Groom
Trends, while not indicative of what is to happen in individual situations, do give insight into what is probable for the average person.
In looking at the costs of weddings from previous years, it is possible to determine that weddings in the future are going to be expensive. And with that knowledge, proper planning can help curb unexpected financial obstacles.
For future brides and grooms, if their financial situation allows, beginning a savings account set aside for a wedding may be prudent. While dowries have gone out of fashion, parents of future brides may want to consider a liquid dowry of some sort.
Other financing options include personal loans, which are preferable over credit cards in many situations. Particularly if the loan is unsecured, there’s often no competition when comparing rates. Additionally, where credit cards are frequently misused and can easily damage a credit score, personal loans are treated as a fixed-term loan and can therefore help boost a sagging credit score.
Regardless of whether you are getting married or your child is looking to be hitched sooner rather than later, the key to any financial success is to budget, stick to the plan and educate yourself. Through financial literacy (researching what financing options work best for you and your situation, comparing rates, etc.) and proper budgeting techniques, your dreams can be met. Dedication and education go a long way toward making white, lacy dreams a reality.