Wedding Planning: A Millennial Perspective
Weddings are the largest and most expensive party most people will host in their lifetime. A few months ago I proposed to my girlfriend, now fiancée, and we have quickly learned that there is much to consider when planning a wedding.
I thought my task was over after planning the proposal, but little did I know we must now think about our budget, guests, service providers, and details like colours and flowers. Although this task has proven to come with associated stresses, we are very excited to embark on this journey.
The wedding industry has grown to a staggering $5 billion per year with over 160,000 weddings taking place annually in Canada alone. In comparison, back in the mid-twentieth century weddings used to be a lot more modest, humble and intimate. There are several traditions that have historically been part of weddings, with many that are still used today. Tossing a bouquet evolved from a ritual in which single women ripped off bits of the bride’s dress for good luck. Wearing a bridal veil served the purpose of protecting the bride’s face from the elements and served as a symbol of purity and virtue. Wearing a ring on the third finger of the left hand began in ancient Egypt, where people believed it had a direct connection to the heart. Bridesmaids have been wearing the same dresses as each other since Ancient Rome, usually even wearing the same dress as the bride, to act as decoys against evil spirits or ex-lovers. The white colour of wedding dresses came from the Victorian era as a symbol of purity (before this time, brides commonly wore vibrant colours and rich fabrics, unless they were commoners in which case they would wear a grey frock that could be worn again at church).
Today, anything goes at weddings, with personal style reflected through decor, fashion and other details chosen by the bride and groom. However, this lack of consistency in sticking to traditions can cause more stress for the happy couple. Additionally, with the advent of social media and TV shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress, social pressures have become more influential. This has created a baseline of expectations and costs that make planning all the more challenging.
When planning for a wedding, one must consider financial and social aspects of the big day. As a money-conscious investment professional, I cannot help but look at wedding planning through an analytical lens. I think this is useful for us in our planning process, but you would have to ask my wife-to-be.
Millennials are the largest generation since the baby boomers. This generation has been perceived by many as entitled, even though our financial futures are significantly challenged. With rising costs of housing, stagnating wages and high student debts, it is no wonder so many 18 to 24 year olds continue to live with their parents. When it comes to preparing for a wedding, many of us simply cannot meet the high financial demands. More so, millennials live in a time where our social circles are large and highly interconnected. We go through life adding friends on Facebook and maintaining relationships through Instagram and Snapchat. However, inviting all of these circles to a wedding will exponentially increase costs. From my personal experience, I can say that deciding who to invite to the wedding has been the most difficult aspect so far.
These trends are translating into a shift in the mindset of millennials about marriage and the entire idea of how this special day will appear. Young people are looking for alternative ways to marry – they are veering away from tradition and steering towards intimacy, affordability and doing what is fitting for the couple despite expectations of their guests. Major trends amongst my cohort include eloping, destination weddings, brunch weddings, and cocktail reception weddings. Simply put, these options are more flexible and more affordable.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that a wedding is about the couple and their marriage. Although cost is a major factor, it is not the only reason millennials are turning away from the traditional wedding. We want our wedding to be memorable and different, and to be a representation of who we are. After much deliberation, my fiancée and I have decided to host a cocktail reception, as it won’t have us breaking the bank, and will allow us to create the atmosphere and intimacy we are hoping for. You can expect these trends to continue to unfold, with the wedding industry morphing alongside it.