Well, not quite yet, it would appear – but many wedding service professionals are biting their nails nonetheless.
‘What’s so bad about Millennials?’ you may ask (not taking into consideration their unruly facial hair and/or knitted beanie hats). Aside from their love of all things tech and their rejection of some traditional customs, Millennials (individuals currently aged 18 to 34) are just as prone to consume as the next generation. So what’s the fuss about? The short answer is that this chunk of the population isn’t getting married…as quick as people once did.
The obvious explanation is that Millennials as a whole are very career focused, and as a result put off getting married in order to establish themselves in the workplace. There are other factors potentially at play though. Millennials are known for being very savvy shoppers – doing more comparative research online (with less loyalty to specific stores/brands). This practice may apply in terms of choosing a partner. With many viable options for meeting literally scores of new people only a click away, this generation may be putting off tying the knot until they are certain they have acquired the ‘best deal’ when it comes to a spouse.
So what do the actual numbers have to say? The U.S. Census released data in 2014 which stipulated that of Americans in the 18 to 34 age bracket, only 33% have gotten married – which is down from 46% in 2000. That is not to say that these millions of people won’t ever get hitched, it just appears to be happening later in their lives. Hence, the wedding industry is not quite panicking…yet.
This trend in the average marital age rising is actually nothing new. There has been a steady incline in people’s wedding day age that goes back to the 1950’s, according to Census figures. When pompadours and hoop skirts reigned supreme, men were 23 and women were 21 when they legally wed. A decade after the Y2K scare, tuxedo clad fellows typically walked down the aisle at 29, and ladies donned the white dress at 27.
These late comers to the wedding party actually are spelling good news for the wedding industry (which totals somewhere in the $55 billion range, annually) in some respects. Wedding magazine behemoth theknot.com found that the average wedding in 2013 ran $29,858, which is the highest figure in recorded history. One of the reasons behind this could stem from the very fact that Millennials are so driven in terms of career. By spending a few more years on the work battlefield, when they are ready to get married they have more disposable income to play with (also they usually have not had child rearing expenses to account for). So rather than relying on mom and dad to pay for their weddings, Millennials are fronting the costs themselves, and doing so a little more lavishly than they would have if they had to raid their parents’ piggy banks. As opposed to older templates on gender based expenditures, Millennial couples share the wedding costs as well. There is also a cultural shift of men genuinely taking more interest in the planning of their weddings too, so they are happy to pay for certain ceremony and reception aspects that particularly interest them.
Another intriguing trend in the Millennial wedding realm has been the increase in destination weddings. While one historically would associate these international excursions with hefty price tags, they actually can cost the same as (and possibly even less than) traditional weddings because of their scaled down nature. Travelmarketreport.com reports that “You have fewer people attending than at a traditional wedding and many resorts, especially the all-inclusives, really throw in a lot of extras.” Regardless, it’s yet another way Millennials are changing the American wedding game, with some funds being allocated to international businesses.
Information provided by ypulse.com lists 64% of Millennials who “would rather have a small wedding with few or no guests than a big wedding with lots of guests.” This obviously seems like a very negative blow to the industry, but one wedding planner, Saundra Hadley, owner of Planning Forever Events, told ibtimes.com that the desire for smaller weddings is negligible in terms of spending, as couples are “upgrading on food and decor and potentially gifts.” So at the end of the day, weddings of any size still come with a massive bill.
All this being said, just because marriages generally are costing more still doesn’t alleviate the concerns of the many people who are vested in the wedding industry. The rate of people getting married has clearly seen a significant drop and there is no definitive data that supports that these Millennials absolutely will ultimately get married; specifically in the traditional, costly manner that buoys the national wedding business. Wedding planners, caterers and banquet halls can only hold their breath and hope that the ceremonial rice continues to be thrown.