Gen Z, millennial couples say it’s too expensive to get married in this economy

Personal finance

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While many young couples may hope to tie the knot one day, some are spooked by high costs. 

Some three-quarters, or 75%, of Gen Z and millennial couples said it’s too expensive to get married in the current economy, according to a survey by the Thriving Center of Psychology. The center polled 906 unmarried Gen Z and millennial pairs in June.

The cost of the average wedding reached $30,000 last year due to steep inflation, per an annual study by The Knot — that’s up $2,000 from 2021.

Gen Z recognizes that weddings are expensive, but the majority, or 66%, say it will be worth the cost, The Knot found in forthcoming research.

However, some couples have been able to wed for a lot less. 

Janet Counts from Front Royal, Virginia, and her husband Brian spent less than $15,000 on their wedding a year and a half ago. 

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“It’s really important for couples to figure out what they want out of a wedding,” said Counts, who is in her 30s. They wed on Feb. 12, 2022, the anniversary of the day they first met. 

Traditions are evolving and more couples are comfortable with smaller, more intimate weddings as they finance the events themselves, said Jason Rhee, a wedding planner based in California. 

Here are ways couples can save on expenses.

Prioritize what is important to you

As recently as a decade ago, parents and in-laws often still pooled funds to pay for a wedding. Nowadays, with couples funding almost half of wedding costs themselves, many are more mindful and intentional with their decision-making. 

Engaged couples should be realistic and have conversations about what the wedding will look like, said Rhee. Be honest about your budget and save money on things that don’t matter as much to you. 

“Prioritize what is important to you,” said Rhee. “Save yourself $1,000 on the cake to give yourself the dream photographer, the venue that you love or the extra 30 minutes at the bar.”

For instance, the Counts prioritized investing in quality food and an open bar, a DJ and photographer, plus a shuttle service for their guests, along with Janet’s bridal gown.

Meanwhile, they were frugal when it came to other areas of the day. While the bride and her bridesmaids held fresh flower bouquets, the couple used artificial flowers purchased at a craft store as decorations and centerpieces. 

If you have no idea what your budget should be, list the elements that you like and start to do the math on what a spending plan would look like, advised Rhee.

‘Be more intentional’ with invitations

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The fewer people you invite to your wedding, the more resources you will have for the party, said Rhee.

Couples used to be more welcoming about guests bringing plus-ones or children to receptions, but that is changing. They are being more intentional about who they want to share their day with, added Rhee.

The Counts chose to have an intimate wedding and limited their guest list to 90 people. They were therefore able to splurge on catering, which ended up being the most expensive part of their wedding, ringing up at about $45 per person. 

Be open to new ideas, changes 

Couples should understand that images they see on professional wedding sites should be taken as inspiration and ideas, and not set in stone. 

“Be open to understanding that styles and inspirations are there as suggested forms of ideas, but similar to everything else in your life you’re doing within a budget, you have to understand that there has to be some sort of flexibility,” said Rhee. 

Some couples are leaning into the proverbial “something borrowed” and seriously consider renting over buying, especially when it comes to flowers, fine jewelry and even their bridal dresses.

“This next generation of brides is thinking about experiences over possessions,” said Miriam Williams, co-founder of Atlanta bridal rental company Laine London. “It’s only natural that they’re rethinking what their wedding day might look like.”

Additionally, consider vendors newer in the wedding space, as they tend to offer lower rates. 

“The reason they’re cheaper is because they’re newer, and the reason you’re paying more money [for established vendors] is because that person has more experience,” added Rhee.

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