By Veronica Chavez
Avid wedding planners and dress consultants may market their services by playing into the stereotype that “all girls dream of their wedding day.”
While it’s unclear whether this sweeping sentiment was ever true, its relevancy is even fainter now. Millennials are choosing to get married later in life and many of them desire less lavish ceremonies than those of previous generations.
Stronger economic eras may have made it more custom for young couples to dream of a beautiful and luxurious ceremony they would one day host in honor of their loving union.
Then the recession happened. Thousands of Millennials entered the working world with financial insecurities strapped on their backs and a gnawing fear-driven mantra to “save, save, save!” echoing in their thoughts.
In addition, the choices that baby-boomer parents made seemed silly, even outright irresponsible. The over-the-top wedding, the split-level house in the suburbs, that vacation to Mexico they took out a second mortgage for–certainly it couldn’t have all been worth it.
Judging their elders’ lifestyle choices while simultaneously watching their recently graduated friends struggle (or fail to) enter the job market duly influenced the younger generation to adapt to frugality.
This shift can be seen in almost every sector in the consumer market. Millennials are no longer spending as much money on televisions, risky stock deals, or even mass-produced beer like Heineken and Coors.
Additionally, they’re taking their sweet time when it comes to large-scale purchases like a house or a car.
Millennials are also putting more weight on saving–specifically retirement saving–than Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers did at their age. A recent study released by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which surveyed more than 1,000 Millennials in the work force, found that approximately 70 percent of Millennials started saving for retirement at the young age of 22. To compare, the average Baby Boomer began saving at age 35, while Gen X-ers got started at 27.
The Millennials’ financial model leaves one major purchase out of the picture: their wedding.
As mentioned before, young adults today are waiting longer to get married, and opting for more humble and inexpensive ceremonies. The median age for marriage has increased over the years, with only 20 percent of young adults today getting married between the ages of 18 and 29–in comparison to the 59 percent of people in that age range being married in 1960.
While this increase in marrying age may very well have to do with the “hook-up culture” pervading society, 69 percent of Millennials surveyed told the Pew Research Center that they were “waiting to tie the knot until they are more financially stable.”
Aside from the money aspect, some Millennials are postponing any marriage plans to further “beta-test” their relationship.
In addition to being apprehensive about the financial decisions of their elders, young people have witnessed society’s increase in divorce rate throughout their lives. All these break-ups haven’t necessarily scared Millennials straight out of commitment–but perhaps divorce makes them treat the institution in a more cautious manner.
Gianna Manta for example, moved to the United States from Greece three years ago and has been with her boyfriend for five years. They currently reside together, but have not yet tied the knot, a decision that Manta loosely attributes to the fact that she was raised in a broken home.
Manta also tells BTR that she wants to pursue additional life goals before she gets married, like earning a college degree.
“Being in a relationship and not married feels like we are still in our 20s and I can still dream about things that I want to accomplish,” explains Manta.
Sophie Lee Morris on the other hand, is 22 and has been married for two years already, after having dated her husband for six years.
Morris tells BTR that she wanted to “discover things together” with her husband, as opposed to accomplishing her goals then getting married.
“It’s really nice to have someone to support you as you work through what can be a truly difficult time,” states Morris. “It’s also a wonderful thought to think that, because we married so young, that we could [live to] see our 50 year wedding anniversary.”
Whether Millennials marry young or wait to tie the knot, they’re definitely approaching their ceremonies in a more economical fashion. As Jamie Miles, Managing Editor of wedding site TheKnot.com, explains to BTR, Millennials have begun to incorporate more DIY aspects into their ceremonies.
“Millennials see their weddings as a reflection of their personalities,” says Miles, “they’re looking to create curated guest experiences and have their style shine through in every aspect of the wedding weekend.”
Creating their own decorations and style for the ceremony saves Millennials money. Doing so pulls them away from the idea that their dream wedding already exists with a definite price tag in some wedding-design book.
Millennials are also choosing more alternative (and cheaper) venues for their big day. Miles has seen non-traditional locations such as, warehouses, vineyards, gardens, and even farms for ceremonies.
Millennial marriage trends also reflect the digital age. With the rise in technology and the ever-growing world of mobile apps, TheKnot.com has extended their services into the mobile arena. For instance, the company offers “The Venue Concierge” which matches couples with venues in their area that reflect their budget, guest count, and style. There’s also “The Knot Wedding Planner” which allows customers to shop for gowns and explore other small details for the big day without the expensive help of a wedding planner.
Whether Millennials choose to get married young or wait until later in life, the wedding market will accommodate whatever budget they propose so that they can enjoy their special day according to their requirements.