NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – August 10, 2016) – Today, Michelle Myers, publisher and chief revenue officer of BRIDES, and Keija Minor, editor in chief of BRIDES, announced the findings from the 2016 American Wedding Study. BRIDES, published by Condé Nast, is the number one bridal brand and has been conducting the American Wedding Study, a survey of engaged and newlywed women, for over 20 years; it shares key insights into the behaviors and emerging trends for couples surrounding their wedding, including costs, planning details, media consumed, and industry trends.

“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.”

“This year’s study shows that, in true millennial style, today’s brides are focused on making both the wedding and the planning process more meaningful and enjoyable for all involved. To that point, brides are moving away from requiring their bridesmaids to wear the exact same dress, with 66% asking them to wear only the same color instead,” said Minor. “Grooms are weighing in on more of the details than ever before, making the big day and events surrounding it more personal and reflective of their style as a couple.”


The results of the American Wedding Study 2016 demonstrate that more than ever, couples prioritize personalizing their wedding, as they are choosing to spend more in details that demonstrate their style (e.g., the dress, which is up to an average price of $1,517 from $1,380 in 2014) and scaling back in areas that don’t, such as the number of guests (down to 135 from 142 in 2014).

This pattern is largely attributed to couples’ increased investment in their wedding, which has reached a new height, with 73% paying for or contributing to the cost. Since couples are investing their money, they have the freedom to spend it how they want without as much pressure from parents and traditions. Social-media sites such as Pinterest (72% are connecting through Pinterest) and the increasingly popular Instagram (33% of brides are connecting with brands and products through it) are fueling this trend.

In addition to personalization, couples are more willing to break tradition by writing wedding vows (up to 42% from 37% in 2014) or having a friend or family member officiate (up to 28% from 20% in 2014). They are also taking the honeymoon and mini-moon, which are still popular (85% of couples take one), and putting their own twist on it by inviting family and friends on the vacation for a “buddymoon” (3%). The practice of including a “man of honor” is also on the rise, with 14% of brides opting to have a male friend stand by their side.

Couples are also not adhering to the traditional “marriage first, children second” timeline: 33% already have children by the time they marry.

Another big break in terms of the traditional wedding is that September and October (16% each) now replace May and June as the most popular months to get married, at 12% and 13% respectively.


* The average wedding cost is $26,522.

* The average reception has a price tag of $11,380.

* Outside of the reception, the next-biggest-ticket items are the engagement ring($5,135), photography ($2,099) and video ($1,533), reception music ($1,508), and wedding bands ($1,725).

* The average wedding cake costs $417.

* The average wedding dress costs $1,517, up $137 from 2014’s average cost of $1,380.

* The average bridesmaids’ dress costs $133.

* The majority of couples set a wedding budget (89%), and one third (35%) spend more than intended (up from 30% in 2014).

* 58% are willing to increase their wedding budget to get the wedding they want.

* To save for their dream wedding, more couples are beginning to consider Friday and Sunday dates (15% and 13% respectively), although Saturday remains the most popular date to marry (65%).


* Social media is the number-one way brides-to-be are connecting with wedding brands and products during planning, with 82% doing so versus 75% in 2014.

* 33% of brides are connecting with brands and products through Instagram.

* Pinterest remains the most popular social-media platform for brides-to-be, with 72% using it to find inspiration and/or help planning their wedding, up from 67% in 2014.

* After telling close friends and family, 62% of brides-to-be changed their social-media status to “engaged.”

*After receiving an engagement ring, 62% posted a picture of it to social networks

* Friends and family of the bride and groom are more frequently seeing the couples’ engagement news on social media – up to 54% from 46% in 2014.

* 39% posted photos and/or video of the proposal to social media.

* 51% create a custom hashtag for their wedding/wedding-related events, 34% for wedding-related events, 46% for wedding itself.

* To keep their guests informed throughout the planning process, 39% of brides-to-be post photos and updates from cake tastings and vendor visits.

* 70% used social media to find wedding inspiration and their wedding style.

* 53% show wedding vendors their ideas on social media (e.g., Pinterest) to use at their wedding.


* Prior to getting married, 82% live together, and 67% do prior to the engagement.

* Before marriage, 33% already have children (including those from previous relationships); 9% have them together.

* The average length of engagement is 14.4 months.

* December is still the most popular month of the year to get engaged (21%).

* Only 60% of couples are having engagement photos taken, down from 64% in 2014.


* Only 29% have an engagement party.

* 18% host wedding weekends (multiple days, multiple events).

* Bridal showers remain popular, with 63% of brides having one (not inclusive of co-ed showers).

* The after-party remains a trend, with 19% of brides opting to continue the party after the reception.

* 10% of couples are choosing to combine their bachelorette/bachelor parties .

* 44% are having their bachelorette/bachelor parties out of town, while 42% are having them locally.

* Honeymoons and minimoons remain popular, with 85% opting to take a post-wedding trip.

* A new trend to watch is the “buddymoon,” a post-wedding vacation with friends and/or family, with 3% of couples taking one.

* Of all weddings, 17% are destination weddings (steady from 16% in 2014).

* At destination weddings, 38% of couples provide hotel accommodations for guests (up from 30% in 2014).

* Of those having a destination wedding, couples are inviting fewer guests (91 versus the 145 for non-destination weddings) but are paying for “extras” such as gift bags at check-in (53%), shuttle buses to the ceremony/reception (32%), and events beyond the wedding, such as planned activities (30%) and the rehearsal dinner (46%).


* The average cost of a wedding dress is $1,517, up from $1,380 in 2014.

* Traditional white and off-white gowns are still the most popular, with 93% of brides selecting either color for their wedding dress.

* However, more brides are looking to make a splash by wearing something non-traditional, with 11% opting for something “unique” (i.e., cocktail length, separates, jumpsuits, non-white).

* About half, 54%, of all brides choose to wear a veil.

* Multiple dresses continue to rise in popularity, with 10% purchasing a second look for the reception and another 7% for the after-party.


* Tuxedos remain the most popular style for grooms, with 54% of men wearing one for their big day. Another 36% opt for a suit instead

* While renting remains the most popular option (51%), 41% now purchase their formalwear (up from 36% in 2014).


* The majority of weddings (88%) have a maid/matron of honor, and 14% include a man of honor (up from 10% in 2014).

* 82% of grooms have a best man, and 7% have a best woman.

* Wedding parties remain very popular, with 99% saying they have bridal attendants and 98% groomsmen/ushers.

* The average bridesmaids’ dress costs $133.

*The average number of bridal attendants is 5.3.

*The average number of groomsmen/ushers is 5.1.

* Flowers girls are part of the wedding party 63% of the time, while 57% of all wedding parties feature a ring bearer.

* Pets are included in the ceremony at 8% of weddings.

* Brides are opting to be less matchy-matchy when it comes to their bridesmaids; 66% of brides choose a color and let their bridesmaids choose the dress style, and only 33% match in both color and style (down from 38% in 2014).


* September and October have become the most popular months for weddings, accounting for 32% of all weddings.

* 63% of brides are having their ceremony and reception at the same place and same time, up from 56% in 2014.

* A quarter of couples choose to marry in a house of worship (down from 35% in 2014).

* When selecting their officiant, 28% of engaged couples ask a friend/family member to get ordained to marry them (up from 20% in 2014).

* Almost all couples incorporate wedding traditions into their big day, including cake cutting (90%), the first dance (89%), toasts (83%), and “something old, new, borrowed, and blue” accessories (81%).

* Before their wedding ceremony, 62% of brides choose not to see their groom (down from 67% in 2006).

* For their wedding ceremony, 48% of couples opt for traditional wedding vows (down from 53% in 2014).

* 85% are planning to take their fiancé’s name when they get married.


Respondents were women ages 18+, either engaged or married within the year. The sample included women who have joined/registered on the site and opted in to receive internal promotions and/or surveys, and women who read or subscribe to BRIDES who are active and promotable. Respondents were surveyed between March 22 and April 4, 2016.