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20 Wedding Trends Millennials Say Are On The Rise

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Millennials have been slow to say “I do,” but as more of them step up to the altar, their ideas for the big day are changing…

Millennials are eschewing many social norms, not the least of which is marriage. As we told you last week, 18-35-year-olds are in no rush to tie the knot. While the majority do want to get married, they’re doing so later and later–in 40 years, the average marriage age has jumped from 20 to 27 for women, and from 22 to 29 for men–and they’re doing it on their own terms. That extends as much to when they’re getting married as to how–Millennial weddings are no cookie cutter affairs (except, of course, when the dessert is not cake but cookies). Does that mean Millennials are ditching church ceremonies and fancy catered dinners? Well, maybe. What really counts is whether or not those customs fit into the happy couple’s unique tastes. When it comes to Millennial weddings, like everything else in their lives, tradition is out and customization is in.

So what does that look like? When we asked 18-35-year-olds what they most wanted their wedding to be, their top three answers were “fun,” “personal,” and “intimate.” Less than one in ten say they want their day to be traditional, and nearly eight in ten say they’d rather have a small, intimate wedding instead of a big, expensive one. To get a clearer sense of what this might look like for future weddings, we asked Millennials in our recent monthly survey, “What, if any, new wedding traditions or trends have you noticed lately?”* Here’s what they say is in style when it comes to getting hitched:

*These were open-end response questions to allow us to capture the full range of wedding trends that 18-35-year-olds are seeing. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are seen most. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What New Wedding Traditions Have They Noticed Lately?

      1. Hashtags
      2. Barn / Rustic Themes
      3. Photobooths
      4. Snapchat Filters
      5. Choreographed Dances
      6. Destination Weddings
      7. Dessert / Candy Bars
      8. Themes
      9. DIY
      10. Different Bridesmaid Dresses
      11. Cake Alternatives / Cupcakes
      12. Extravagant Weddings
      13. Outdoor Weddings
      14. Social Media
      15. First Look Photos
      16. Live Streaming
      17. No Kids
      18. Games
      19. Photoshoots
      20. Color themes

Hashtags, barn motifs, and photobooths dominated the top three ranking the last time we covered the top wedding trends Millennials were seeing, too. As we said then, we don’t expect hashtags to go anywhere anytime soon, but the rustic aesthetic will likely fall down the list in the near future as Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds get overloaded with faded wood signs and mason jar cocktails. (In fact, last year, mason jars came in at number 11 on the list. This year, they’ve fallen off completely.) The number four trend, however, made a huge climb from last year (#19) to now, but that should come as no surprise–Snapchat filters are massively popular among Millennials, and the integration of social media into their everyday lives is only growing.

In fact, Millennials’ “pic or it didn’t happen” mentality could be part of what’s fueling the rise of the destination wedding, the sixth most popular trend 18-35-year-olds are seeing today. As OneTravel put it, “Millennials want something one-of-a-kind that they can proudly share on social media, complete with their own Snapchat filters, and Instagram-worthy moments.” Now Millennials can induce FOMO with their wedding day beach selfies, while indulging their own appetite for travel and experiences. Millennials are also looking to cut back on the cost of the big day (or–in this case–days), and, believe it or not, taking the wedding party away from home can help lower expenses. Not only do fewer people attend, but guests are expected to foot their own travel bills. And with live streaming growing in popularity (number 16 on the list), no one has to miss the wedding no matter where it is, further incentivizing young couples to set up altars in far-flung destinations.

A few other nontraditional trends showed up on the list for the first time this year, including dessert bars, first look photos, adults-only weddings, games, and photoshoots. As more of these unique trends rise in popularity, we were curious to know what mainstays of the traditional wedding Millennials think are staying in and going out of style:

While the age-old adage of “something old, something new” is going out the window–along with waiting until marriage to “do it,” having one set of parents pay for the wedding, and getting hitched in a religious venue–Millennials think the majority of wedding traditions are still on trend. White dresses, big receptions, honeymoons, and maids of honor still make a wedding in Millennials’ books. It’s just that now, they’re adding their own twists.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.