While marriage is, or at least is intended to be, an expression of permanence within a world of change, the face of the wedding itself has been changing significantly over the last few years. If you’re currently planning your own nuptials or just an avid fan of the matrimonial scene, keeping up on these trends can ensure your wedding savvy stays as current as your wardrobe and cell phone.
A trend that began more than a few years ago, that of the “casual” wedding, continues to gain momentum in the U.S., with close to one in five brides currently reporting that she would classify her own ceremony as such, up from around one in ten toward the end of the last decade. Less American couples are opting for formal or “black-tie” ceremonies; only 16% described their weddings that way in 2011. Conversely, average wedding budgets are seeing an increase for the first time since the economic downturn of 2008, both in terms of overall spending and spending per guest. Part of the explanation for this, in addition to inflation, may be the simultaneous trend toward multi-day events, especially within the luxury-wedding sector. High-end weddings will not infrequently last a full three days now, often incorporating a schedule of less-formal “fun” events on both the day prior to and the one after the actual ceremony, which is itself often a more traditional and formal affair. Compounding the increase in average costs is the fact that these luxury weddings tend to involve around 70 more guests on average than do non-luxury weddings. Another contributor to rising wedding bills is the trend toward custom entertainment, including comedians, photo booths, and the increasingly-seen interactive food stations.
While white, the traditional signature hue of the Western wedding, continues to dominate the matrimonial palette, the past few years have seen a shift to regal purple, with one in four brides today choosing some shade of that color to define her look (this compares to only 16% in 2009). Brown, on the contrary, has waned in popularity, while pink, blue, and green have remained popular alternatives. The past year also saw a shift in couples’ timing of their “big days”, with 36% of vows being exchanged in September, October, or November, almost equal to the 37% exchanged during the traditional “wedding season” months of June through August. This compares with only 30% of weddings taking place in the fall during 2009 and 2010.
Anyone who’s kept up on wedding trends over the last decade will no doubt recognize that wedding websites have been de rigueur for years now, but even newer technological trends include the use of social-networking sites and smartphones. Almost half of couples are now using Web 2.0 sites like Facebook and Twitter to share wedding details with guests and an even higher 60% of brides-to-be are utilizing phones in the course of planning their nuptials. Smartphones are the newest, most convenient avenue for accessing planning websites, taking and sharing matrimonial pictures, managing gift registries, and searching for and comparing wedding vendors online, transforming the coordination of the modern wedding into a truly mobile affair.