Last month in March for Wedding Wire professional members, they held a webinar to discuss their 2019 Wedding Trends Report (published annually).

Excuse me while I geek out, but this is where I like to grab my mental knife and start cutting into the knowledge that’s out there. Research on love, relationships, and studies on how the dating landscape continues to change with the rise of new apps and tech spark my interests as a photographer. Insights like these help me stay sharp on figuring out how to translate love language visually.

The whole webinar was 58-minutes full of data and they saved a little time for Q&A at the end, but I felt there were some things that could have made the study a bit more relevant and contextual for today’s vendors. Even though the study contained core focuses like engagements, planning, couples, traditions, and cost — adding a bit more of a comparative study on the landscape of how couples connected in the past to now could be very valuable in the studies moving forward. Let’s take a quick look back on Philadelphia couples in the 1930s for example.

“People will go as far as they have to to find a mate, but no farther.” — John Ellsworth Jr., Yale Sociologist.

In 1932 a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania named James Bossard looked through five-thousand consecutive marriage licenses on file for people who lived in the city of Philadelphia. One-third of couples who got married had lived within a five-block radius of each other before they got married. One out of six had lived within the same block. Check this stat out: One of every eight married couples had lived in the same building before they got married.

The geographic proximity of partners in 5,000 marriages. Source: Modern Romance, James H.S. Bossard, “Residential Propinquity as a Factor in Marriage Selection,” American Journal of Sociology 28, no. 2 (1932): 219–24

The singles bar in our pockets
Today, I bet this is hard for us to even imagine multiple couples marrying someone they grew up with. Our choices today are infinite. In the words of author and comedian, Aziz Ansari, he says in Modern Romance, “Today, if you own a smartphone, you’re carrying a 24–7 singles bar in your pocket.” I would amend that to say, “…you have access to a 24–7 singles bar in your pocket.” Not everyone decides to or feels like they need to opt into online dating culture. Nevertheless, our choices are infinite. Apps like “Hinge” have redesigned themselves in an attempt to toss hook-up culture by the wayside.

Hinge users value relationship-oriented connection.

We all have friends who have tried these dating apps and platforms like or Tinder (including myself). Even though there’s no real long-term definitive study that helps chart the rise of relationship apps and correlates them to their wedding journey, there’s kindling here that could help lead to that (if there’s not one already in the works). After sitting through their webinar, I tried searching for any statistics or trends Wedding Wire might have published that covers dating apps related to the marriage proposal and planning journey and this is what I could find:

Wedding Wire, if you run across this, I hope you start to include some questions in your next survey that might help provide a line of sight into how couples are actually using these apps in the next study. All that being said, their team did a good job putting this data together and presenting it. The newlywed report site is beautiful. Now here’s a little background on the study, highlights I thought were noteworthy, and what you might learn from this report.

Insight into the journey of finding the one
It’s the largest study of today’s wedding planning journey in the U.S. based on data from over 18,000 newlyweds married in 2018. It attempts to represent couples from all over the country. Different ethnicities, income levels, race, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

  • 80% married couples today are millennials, age 23–37.
  • 55% dated for two (2) plus years.
  • 72% are living together and are not fully settled into home ownership.
  • 18% own a house together.
  • 54% of couples have talked through finances together.

Highlights that stood out from the top 10 must knows

  1. Christmas Day continues to be the most popular day to get engaged, with 7 out of the top 10 most popular days to get engaged taking place in December.
  2. 58% of couples today marry someone with a different background.
      • Example post on Wedding Wire Forums: It’s not always clear how to blend cultures.
      • “So, I’m just looking for tips or advice from anyone who’s had a “mixed wedding.” I’m Mexican American. My parents, aunts, uncles only speak Spanish. I’m just nervous about how everything will go that day. We’re planning on having a bilingual DJ & officiant, but I’m still worried. Is there anything else I should/could do to make it easier for everyone?”
  3. While two-thirds of couples are planning pre-engagement, 35% look at a wedding dress and attire online.
  4. The top search phrase on Google for this segment is “How to Start Planning?”
  5. In the last year alone, dress-related searches that include the term “near me” on mobile has increased by 600%.
  6. 80% of planning is done online.
  7. Couples are still turning to print for more traditional forms of communication (i.e. 85% send “Thank you” notes post-wedding).
  8. One in four couples has a destination wedding.
  9. 75% of couples are having a wedding ceremony in a non-religious institution, 44% of couples are writing their own vows, and 49% are still asking for their parents blessing to move forward with marriage.
  10. Price still remains an important factor when searching for vendors.

What can you learn?
Dating and the path to marriage isn’t as easy or clear cut as scrolling on your Instagram feed and seeing someone you follow finally make their “engagement announcement.” Social media might make it seem like it’s instantaneous or relationships are evolving at a quicker pace than usual, but as you see in the Wedding Wire post above, it’s not always clear how to blend cultures. The nerves, worries, and road to making a frictionless wedding are what many couples want, but difficult to figure out in the moments leading up to the big day.

Couples are using time during their lunch breaks, during the week, and on weekends looking for ideas to make a memorable moment.

Even though we live in a digital age, the art of physical paper goods is not yet lost.

More and more couples are putting their own spin on their wedding ceremony. In the age where religion isn’t as ingrained into the nature of society—innovation, ingenuity, and the concept of love and care for all are credos of engaged couples today. They’re also having their ceremony and reception at the same place. A wedding experience doesn’t need to be a rigid or old traditional experience. For example, check out this bride and groom who told their guests to haul out their old wedding gowns. There are good ways to keep your wedding fresh and not reinvent the wheel. Make it yours. There are good ways to keep your wedding fresh and not reinvent the wheel. Make it yours.

Lastly, pricing is still top of mind today. With newlyweds taking on debt to finance an education and rising living expenses, finding one or many ways to pay for a wedding can serve as a jumping off point for a couple. The average couple pays for roughly 45% of costs and 51% of millennial parents are covering for half of the wedding. Credit card debt isn’t out of the question as 20% say they use lenders like these to cover the remaining foot of the bill.

. . .

Intangibles that can’t be quantified
Again, I’ll note this report was great to read, but I wonder if Wedding Wire would talk to real people about their experience and capture it in some form of rich media? A value add for someone like me would be watching a few videos of Wedding Wire participants in the study talk about what makes their relationship work. While wedding trends and aspects of the industry can be measured in a report like this—the road to someone’s special wedding day contains many intangibles that can’t be quantified. That’s where we need to challenge ourselves to try and get close to understanding what’s not being said.

See you back here next year for the 2020 report.

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