It’s no doubt that a wedding can be one of the biggest investments of a Millennial couple’s budget. In celebration of the start of the spring wedding season, here begins a two-part series on the latest financial trends in weddings, along with plenty of tips to help you stretch your money on your big day.

Mike Steib, CEO of XO Group, parent company of The Knot shares, “Over the last 20 years we have helped to plan 25 Million weddings, and are responsible for the largest audience of US couples getting married in America. We surveyed 18,000 people – the largest study of its kind. We publish this so that everyone planning a wedding can make the most informed decisions and pull off their perfect wedding.”

Generally, most brides and grooms are now getting married in their late 20s or early 30s, a bit later than earlier generations. Yet, as they have been for many years, weddings are still one of the biggest investments a young couple will ever make. Most couples now spend over $30,000 just on their wedding day alone, and even in the least expensive areas, the average cost of a wedding still runs nearly $20,000. For comparison, the median household income in the United States was $53,657 in 2014. With nearly half a couple’s annual salary (or more!) being invested into the “I do’s”, it’s important to choose wisely and plan well, so that you can have the wedding of your dreams and still have enough for your future life together.

For this first part in the series, let’s examine 8 of the newest wedding statistics from 2015, compiled by The Knot. As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”, and this data will help you identify areas where you’d like to splurge and also where you want to save on costs for your special day. Let’s take a look at the results.

1.Wedding Planning: Mobile Apps Take the Cake

Smartphones have taken over countless aspects of our lives in recent years, and wedding planning is no exception. These days, couples are increasingly turning to smartphones for wedding planning services, and they’ve come to expect personalized solutions when crafting plans. In fact, from 2014-2015, smartphone usage for wedding planning doubled. In 2015, 89% of couples used smartphones for some aspect of wedding planning, up from 42% in 2014. The most popular wedding planning activities completed on smartphones were researching and contacting wedding vendors and creating and managing a wedding registry or personal wedding webpage.

In 2015, 58% of brides opted to browse through wedding gowns on their smartphones, and the same percentage of couples relied on their mobiles for obtaining and managing vendor info. Additionally, 16% of couples used an online RSVP service through their mobiles last year, up from 7% in 2014.

“Couples are much more tech savvy and want to work with wedding professionals who are as well. A bride planning her wedding wit her smartphone expects from her local wedding professional the same things that she expects from Uber and AirBNB,” adds Steib.

77% of couples browsed TheKnot.com on their smartphones, and they welcomed the customized solutions and personal touches available through services like The Knot Concierge, which provides customized purchasing guidance and venue recommendations thanks to its high-tech interface combined with the expertise of top-notch local wedding planners.

2. Go With the Pros: Professional Help on the Rise

These days, couples aren’t leaving their special day to chance. More and more are turning to wedding experts to ensure their big day goes off smoothly.

Coordinating a ceremony can be hard work, and 26% of couples hired a professional wedding planner last year, up from just 19% in 2010.

Pictures and video ensure couples have long-lasting memories of their treasured day. To prevent any mishaps, nearly 90% of couples hired a professional photographer for their ceremony and reception in 2015, while 1 in 3 also hired a professional videographer.

Increasingly, couples are turning to professional musicians to assist with their music needs on the day. In 2015, 66% of couples selected a professional DJ for their reception, a slight increase from the 61% of couples who did so in 2010.

3. Location, Location: Wedding destinations

While 24% of couples chose a destination wedding in 2014, only 21% did so in 2015. Still, there are over 350,000 destination weddings annually. 77% of these take place within the continental U.S., while 23% are held at international locations. The most popular international locations for destination weddings were the Carribbean, chosen by 32% of couples, and Mexico, chosen by 19% of couples. Not wanting to leave out important guests, nearly 20% of couples who had a destination wedding in 2015 opted to have a second party upon their return with those guests who were unable to travel to their wedding.

Even though they’re not calling it a “destination wedding,” trends show that an increasing number of couples have their ceremony far from their hometown. Last year, a whopping 49% of couples had their wedding at a location more than 200 miles from their hometown, more than doubling the figure of 21% from 2014.

4. Typical Wedding Costs and the Most Expensive U.S. Wedding Locations

For 2015, the average cost for a wedding was $32,641, an increase on 2014′s average cost of $31,213. Keep in mind, that doesn’t include the honeymoon.

As for locations, Manhattan tops the list for the most expensive wedding sites in the U.S., while Alaska is the most affordable. The average cost of a 2015 wedding in Manhattan was $82,299 compared to just $17,361 in Alaska.

5. Seasonal Shifts, Dresses, and Color Choices

As you’ll know from picking up any wedding magazine, the season of your ceremony determines a lot about wedding colors and themes.

Though summer has long been thought of as the “signature” wedding season, it’s slowly falling out of fashion. While 39% of couples chose a summer ceremony in 2014, only 33% did so in 2015. In fact, last year, fall weddings were the most popular, with 39% of couples opting for an autumn event. Of the autumn months, October proved most popular, with 17% of couples getting married that month. 15% chose September, and 7% selected November.

For the wedding dress itself, the average amount spent in 2015 was $1,469.

For color choices, white and ivory won the top spot and were chosen by 47% of couples. Blue came in second at 39%, followed by pink at 30%, metallics at 34%, and purple at 21%. Of note, metallic gold has become increasingly popular since 2012. The stats show that it’s actually tripled in popularity. In 2012, it was the choice of 7% of couples, and in 2015 that had grown to a staggering 22%!

6. Ceremonies and Guest Lists by the Numbers

It’s been said that people are getting married later in life, and the latest statistics show this to be true. In 2015, the average age for getting married was 29 for brides and 31 for grooms. While those ages are still young, they’re several years older than was the case for previous generations.

You’ve probably wondered about the numbers at wedding ceremonies themselves. Last year, the average number of wedding guests in attendance was 139, and the total number of bridesmaids and groomsmen averaged 5 each.

Guests lists have shrunk in recent years, and 2015′s figure of 139 guests is a slight decrease on 2009′s figure of 149 guests. But, couples are spending more per guest than they have in the past. While only $194 was spent on average per guest in 2009, in 2015, couples spent an average of $237 per guest.

7. Incorporating Personal Meaning into Ceremonies

Couples want their big day to be a truly special event. To showcase their unique style and incorporate their heritage into the ceremony, couples are using a variety of ethnic and religious elements. Bilingual music, Celtic hand tying, Chinese tea ceremonies, “Jumping the Broom,” and bagpipes are becoming increasingly common features at weddings. The latest figures show that in 2015, 19% of couples used an ethnic or religious element in their ceremony.

Many couples dream of a themed wedding that blends their personalities, and 22% of couples chose a themed option in 2015.

For a truly memorable experience, more brides and grooms are selecting close friends or family members to officiate their ceremonies. 40% did so in 2015, an increase on 2009′s figure of 29%.

8. The Reception

To finish of their special day, couples are spending more than ever on their wedding receptions, especially for catering, cake, music, and entertainment.

One of the fastest growing categories is custom guest entertainment that reflects the personalities of the bride and groom. Over the past 6 years, it’s more than tripled, with 36% of couples opting for it in 2015, a dramatic increase from the 11% who chose it in 2009. Examples of commonly requested custom reception touches include wine and liquor tastings, live performances by professional dancers, and even cigar rolling stations!

In the category of drinks, signature cocktails have become increasingly trendy. While just 12% of couples opted to serve a signature cocktail of their own design in 2008, by 2015, that figure had doubled to a whopping 22%!

 

By Winnie Sun