Millennials are revolutionising not only weddings — but romance, itself.
It is no secret that wedding planning is changing. In fact, the wedding industry has arguably valued tradition more than any other, so this disruption we’re seeing is more than just change—it is a revolution. And no surprise here: everyone is quick to blame millennials for this upheaval. But should we actually be thanking them?
Millennials make marriage a pit stop — no longer a destination.
Millennials are not only changing how we marry, they’re changing the social implications of human relationship and romance by challenging traditional gender roles. And I’d say: it’s changed for the better.
A colleague of ours recently asked their dad what he did to plan his wedding with his mum. The pause before he formed his answer (which was “um…I was out of the loop?”) was all the answer we really needed.
Conversely, we asked a millennial customer of ours, just married this May, the same question. He responded:
“My wife and I planned our wedding together. Some details we worked on together closely; other details we divvied up, checking in with each other along the way. In the end it felt like we’d really shared the work and responsibility for the planning, and it made the whole experience more meaningful for that reason—that it was a collaboration, a shared effort.”
These responses are not out of the ordinary. They accurately represent the majority of experiences of married people within their respective generations.
For men, marriage has always been a pit stop along their way in life. For women, marriage has historically been the destination. For the first time, marriage is now becoming a step in the journey for both genders.
Consequently, weddings and wedding-planning are becoming more accurate reflections of marriage itself: a partnership. A shared effort. Everything is now done together—from engagement to honeymoon—as an example of how everything will continue long after.
And that’s not all that’s changed. Hashtags are the new monograms and Pinterest is the new magazine-cutout-clad vision board. In fact,
“couples are using smartphones more than ever to plan their wedding and they expect personalised solutions. In 2015, the use of smartphones for wedding planning activities, be it researching and contacting wedding vendors, or creating and managing a wedding registry or personal wedding website, was 89%” (The Knot).
Shopping for your wedding has changed
Millennials are now designing and buying custom-designed rings from jewellers like us because they serve as expressions of their unique stories. They’re reimagining cards and choosing invitations and thank you notes from Lovepop. And they’re ordering and receiving custom suits from Indochino without stepping foot outside of their apartments. Millennials plan their lives online. It only makes sense they’d plan their weddings online, too.
Online wedding-planning affords lovebirds more creative freedom. They’re not as limited by their location or their budget because the possibilities online are… limitless. Imaginative couples can custom design their own engagement ring like this one featuring lobster claws:
Which is either a reference to the fact that lobsters mate for life or a glorious tribute to the hit TV series, Friends. And for many, it’s both.
The point is: couples find inspiration in anything and everything, and for this special occasion, they’re keen to create something that connects them, a little secret only the two of them share.
“For our couples, it’s all about telling their unique story. That’s how you end up with a lobster holding a ring and a bottle of champagne in an invitation. Our goal is to combine imagination and engineering to help couples share their story and make it unexpected, personal, and real.” – (Wombi Rose, CEO of Lovepop)
There is undoubtedly a radical shift in how couples are getting married now versus how they once did. The question is, “why?”
Many are quick to answer, “Because millennials are broke.”
But the truth—like most truths—is much more layered than that. The job market may be tougher than ever, but millennials are surviving it remarkably well. Sure, marriage rates have been declining in recent years, but that’s not because millennials are broke. In fact, millennials are spending more money than ever on weddings.
The average wedding cost has increased by more than $5,500 in the past five years with couples spending $32,641 in 2015. This year, the total wedding cost is being driven up by specific categories: reception venue (+$1,950), ceremony site (+$652) and reception band (+$545) saw the largest cost increases (compared to 2009) (The Knot).
Millennials are still getting married. It’s just happening later than expected, which makes it seem like the marriage rate is on the decline. But most importantly, marriage is happening on their terms. They’re actively making sure of it. Despite dropping more dollah dollah bills than ever on planning the big day, millennials are also incorporating a much more DIY approach. Clearly, DIY is no longer code for “cheaper.” Rather, DIY is a budget-blind way of life.
Couples are spending more money on nearly every aspect of their wedding than they did one year ago—from engagement rings to venue to florist.
“Wedding planners are also becoming an integral part of the wedding planning process, with 26% of couples hiring a planning professional in 2015 (up from 19% in 2010). Professional DJs are also on the rise with 66% of couples hiring one (up from 61% in 2010)” (The Knot).
Why the eagle-eye focus on “custom-made”? Because millennials are wildly creative. And I’m not just talking about being creativity on a canvas, a stage, or a computer screen. They’re creators in every sense of the word—most importantly creators of themselves. For the longest time, human beings have simply grown into their identities. Identity has been a result of many factors: —job, family, culture. Today identity is the cause, not the result. It’s a driving thought, not an afterthought. Millennials actively create themselves. Their weddings and their marriages are part of their identities—and the desire to actively take ownership of creating those pieces of themselves is not only strong… it’s absolute.
This millennial creator mindset means more:
- Youtube save-the-date videos.
- Destination weddings in exotic locations that can cost less than a wedding in the US or Britain.
- Pinterest-inspired crafts and hand-made thank you gifts from the bride and groom.
- Quirky new traditions that go viral on social networks.
- Custom-designed engagement rings and bridal jewellery.
Many people and brands seem to be resistant to the shift we’re seeing in how couples marry because they’re assuming the change is rooted in millennials not valuing marriage as much as previous generations have.
Fortunately, there’s not much truth in this—only proof that people are quick to label change as “bad.” Millennials are actually approaching not only wedding planning but marriage itself with a great deal of care and consideration…perhaps more than any generation before has. This could be because of witnessing the divorce rates peak in generations before them. No matter the cause, millennials are taking great care when approaching marriage because they value it—not because they think less of it.
Affecting the way they value marriage more than anything is their prioritisation of social equality. Women are more career-driven than ever before. With both men and women valuing equally their goals as individuals, marriage doesn’t fit into a couple’s life as early as it once did. Millennials see men and women as equals with career milestones they’re driven to reach before they focus on settling down. With such a changing worldview, it’s no surprise that marriage—a piece within that scope—is affected.
This might make you wonder: Are millennials rejecting all tradition just for the sake of being different?
In short: no. Speak to any millennial, and it will be instantly clear that this shift isn’t just some mass rejection of tradition. While it may be true that millennials are rejecting stereotypical gender roles in return for an experience that reflects the equality marriage should be, millennials still value the time-honored traditions of weddings. In fact, they’re devoting more time and money to every wedding tradition because they’re not only keeping those traditions, they’re personalising them. They’re recreating them with more personal touches, to create more meaningful experiences.
In fact, studies show many millennials are actually digging deeper into tradition and resurrecting ethnic traditions from their cultural ancestries to bring into their ceremonies.
“Ethnic, religious and local elements—ranging from bilingual music and Celtic hand tying, to Chinese tea ceremonies and jumping the broom—continue to be a strong part of wedding celebrations, with 19% of couples incorporating an ethnic or religious element into their wedding day” (The Knot).
Do you want to be part of the revolution?
We’re not asking about the revolution of an industry. We’re asking about the revolution of the social norm. We’re asking if you want to actively play a part in redefining marriage and wedding planning in an increasingly positive way.
Whether you’re aware of this or not, you vote with your hard-earned cash.
So vote on brands that support this move towards making wedding planning more like a marriage itself: a union. A joint effort. A reflection of true partnership.
Frankly, we’re excited by how rising superstars of the wedding industry are catering to consumers, rather than wishing consumers will go back to catering to them. We get giggly over companies that share our approach, like LovePop, and Indochino—brands that embrace not only the millennial approach towards wedding-planning, but also the progressive worldview that comes along with it. Brands like these not only empower future couples, they empower human society.