What if we told you that the cost of a wedding has gone up? Recent surveys from both Brides and The Knot both allude to this phenomenon, showing that modern couples are going out of their way to spend larger sums on the so-called “dream wedding.” Before you get alarmed, you should also take into account that the increased spending is completely voluntary, and that, to a larger degree, couples feel the additional costs are worth it. After all, who wouldn’t want to have a wedding that both they and their guests can enjoy to the fullest? From The Knot:
“With to-be-weds now shelling out more money per guest, they’re more excited than ever to create the ultimate guest experience complete with out-of-the-box entertainment and exceptional amenities…”
Brides goes on to note that couples are more willing to draw inspiration from a wider range of sources to bring their wedding plans to the peak of perfection:
“The 2016 American Wedding Study shows that today’s couples are spending more of their own money to have the wedding they want. Their level of financial and personal involvement means that they are seeking ideas and inspiration at a greater scale than ever before, and bridal media is more valuable than ever.”
So, just how are these booming budgets affecting the experience? Here are some of the trends that have taken the wedding world by storm.
To have a dream wedding, you might do well to secure a dream location. At least, this is the reasoning of the newest crop of young adults to take the plunge into married bliss. While the trend of the destination wedding—having a ceremony in some far-flung, exotic locale—is on the decline, it seems couples are embracing traveling further away within the country to find the spot they want. A winery in the next state over, a scenic manor house out in the countryside, or that elegant chapel a few cities away are all on the table, along with a number of other venues that were off the table just a decade or so ago.
An interesting trend among those who are still planning destination weddings—they’re inviting fewer guests. Instead of bringing along a big squad, they’re tightening up their inner circle and using the leftover funds to increase the quality of the ceremony. This means more perks, better hotel accommodations, and fun activities at the wedding that everyone can enjoy. Speaking of which…
Just how are couples making their ceremonies more lively events for all? For starters, they’re now more likely to hire a team of professionals to ply their trades: photographers, videographers, event planners, wedding bands, DJs, florists, and more are all in on the act. The “professional touch” is bringing an extra layer of polish to event, but it’s not the only means that couples are using to enhance the experience. They are also dropping dollars on party favors, organizing customized wedding themes, and including “extras” at the ceremony like premium catering, games, and the now-ubiquitous photo booth.
2017 has already seen its share of interesting trends start to take off. In the food arena, we’ve seen an upgrade in the level of food presentation, along with new offerings like gourmet donuts, ice cream bars, and exquisite meat & cheese trays. Live entertainment, which once consisted only of the wedding band, has evolved to include dancers, silent discos, and more. Even the wedding invitations themselves have been given an overhaul. Instead of the same-old styles and fonts, couples are getting creative, hiring designers to devise custom graphics and unique correspondence that stands out.
The average reception now costs almost half as much as the wedding itself. Like the ceremony, the money is going into securing prime venues and hiring the best professionals available to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Again, the DJ is an important component in this equation. As the complexity of the wedding and reception has evolved, so too have the DJs. They’re bringing more music, more equipment, and more service to the table. No longer content to spin a few tunes and call out a couple of names, they’ve taken to providing a complete party atmosphere for the reception, along with karaoke, games, prizes, and whatever else the bride and groom would like them to arrange.
In some respects, standard wedding attire hasn’t changed much. Grooms are still likely to wear a tuxedo or traditional suit, and brides are still fans of the tried-and-true white gown. More couples are choosing to purchase their attire (as opposed to renting), and the costs for gowns and tuxedos have climbed in recent years. A small portion (about 11%) of brides go for something non-traditional, which can often incur an additional expense, and, more than ever before, brides are shirking the tradition of having bridesmaids all wear the same dress. Now, the only stipulation is that the dresses fall into the same color pattern as the wedding’s theme, with some couples going so far as to foot the bill for some of the extravagant outfits bridesmaids are selecting.
In the era of social media, it’s no surprise that these sites are taking a larger role in the wedding planning and documentation process. Sending reminders to friends and family, connecting with professionals, posting pictures, and even creating wedding hashtags and social media campaigns for the big day are practices that are becoming more and more standard. For those with enough coin to hire one, social media managers are the go-to for making sure all the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts are perfectly crafted and released at the optimal time.
Wedding spending has gone up, true, but that’s hardly a bad thing. It means that an increasing number of couples are willing to save and invest in the wedding they want—their dream wedding. By spending more, they’re getting more. Better venues, outfits, ceremonies, and festivities are now the new normal, and the trends will only continue to evolve as the tastes of modern brides and grooms become even more discerning. Far from a concerning development, the age of the highly personalized wedding bodes well for both couples and wedding guests alike.