Millennials Spend Less, Bucking Wedding Traditions

Struggling to cut wedding costs before the big day? You might not need to pull the answers out of the ether. Two recent studies show that millennials are spending less in bridal stores and less on engagement rings—compared to prior generations. Some of the more traditional rituals in weddings are seeing cutbacks, too.

Bridal Store Shopping in Decline

Between 2013 and 2018, bridal store revenue, according to market-research company IBISWorld, actually declined in 2018 (by 0.1% to $2.4 billion). This could be due to a number of factors—couples are living together for longer, and getting married later in life (if at all).

Spending Less on Rings

Bridal stores aren’t the only industry facing possible challenges: millennials also think that engagement rings should cost less than the current average. The 2018 figure of $5,680 is too high—they’d prefer to spend somewhere in the $100 to $999 range. TD Ameritrade’s “Young Americans and Marriage Survey” illustrates that millennial and Gen Z women, in particular, do not plan to spend exorbitant amounts on rings: 90% of millennial women say no more than $2,500.

Changing The Traditions

The studies were released independently, but the timing of their release, in early 2019, could indicate an overall downward trend in wedding spending by young people—or it could mean the tide of wedding traditions is changing. The dress and the proposal are long-standing institutions for the bride and groom, respectively; but it seems millennials have decided it’s time for a change.

Millennial Weddings: Social Media and Video Edging Out Old Institutions

Millennial Weddings: Social Media and Video Edging Out Old Institutions

The Casualization of Wedding Dresses & Tuxes

What does change look like? In the ring department: more unique, vintage, and heirloom styles are coming into vogue, so you might consider trading the jewelry store trip for an antique store, or just a visit with your fiancée-to-be’s family.

As far as dresses go, the industry itself is struggling; David’s Bridal filed for bankruptcy in late 2018 (they hired a new CEO in mid-June, 2019), and more designers and labels are going under as ready-to-wear companies sell more wedding-appropriate apparel. Many sources are observing a “casualization” of wedding dresses, which has an impact on styles and prices—not just for the bride, but for everyone at the wedding. Remember, your dress code is built around what the bride is wearing, so if she goes more casual, it can affect decisions like whether or not you and your groomsmen wear suits or tuxes.

If you’re getting married soon, this is good news. While it doesn’t mean prices are going to go down across all categories, it puts less pressure on you to spend lavishly. Depending on your budget, this could be a chance to splurge on something you and your partner are more interested in… like photography and video? (Or maybe not.) You could hire some wild entertainment. Hell, you could get an ice sculpture of your in-laws if you want! Whatever you choose, the data is on your side. Go forth and spend less!

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