No two weddings are alike, which is what keeps the wedding industry so fascinating year after year. From celebratory hashtags and social media announcements to mixed-gender wedding parties and the inclusion of local food, it's no surprise that personalization is the one constant theme. In this year's Newlywed Report, you'll notice a continued shift in the traditional wedding season and how couples are relying on technology from the engagement through their wedding day. Planning is also starting earlier than ever before. Based on the largest survey of its kind, WeddingWire gives you the truest look into modern day engagements, ​planning, average cost and more.

Engagement

'Tis the season for proposals, as nearly 40% of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. While 52% of individuals are surprised by the ring, 1 in 3 show their partner photos of the ring and/or style they like. (Fun Fact: 3 out of 4 Millennials even go beyond the ring and start planning their wedding prior to the proposal!) Given the natural excitement, couples are quick to pick a date with the majority now setting their sights on a Saturday in the fall.

icon of an engagement ring $5000 average cost

Popular Female Ring Styles

  • icon of a diamond engagement ring stone
    74% diamond
  • icon showing a halo setting for a ring (a center gemstone completely encircled by smaller accent stones)
    53% halo setting
  • icon showing a multi-faceted gemstone seen from the top
    50% 1-2 carats

Top Engagement Dates

Christmas Day is the most popular day of the year to pop the question, followed by Valentine’s Day and Christmas Eve.

pie chart showing the percentage of engagements that occur each month, with December highlighted as the month with the highest percentage (16%). Other months' percentages are: January - 7%, February - 8%, March - 7%, April - 8%, May - 9%, June - 7%, July - 9%, August - 8%, September - 8%, October - 7%, November - 7%.
icon of a smartphone/tablet 86% of couples announce their engagement on social media

Where Couples Post the News

  • 76% Facebook
  • 35% Instagram
  • 12% Twitter

Fall is now the most popular season to get married, with roughly 40% of all weddings taking place during these months.

Top 5 Wedding Dates in 2017

  1. 1 October 7
  2. 2 October 14
  3. 3 September 30
  4. 4 October 21
  5. 5 November 11
  1. 1 October 22
  2. 2 October 15
  3. 3 October 8
  4. 4 November 5
  5. 5 September 24
  1. 1 October 10
  2. 2 June 20
  3. 3 September 19
  4. 4 September 26
  5. 5 September 12

2017 Wedding Month Distribution

chart showing what percentage of weddings occurred in each month in 2017, with peaks in September/October at around 15%, and a smaller peak closer to 12% in May/June. chart showing what percentage of weddings occurred in each month in 2016, with peaks in October at around 16%, and in June at around 12%. chart showing what percentage of weddings occurred in each month in 2015, with peaks in June at around 16%, and in May, August, September and October at around 13%.

Planning

Setting budgets, finding vendors and knowing you're on the right track are some of the biggest challenges couples face while planning for their wedding. Fortunately, the majority of today's planning is done online where couples utilize an array of planning tools (think: checklists and budget trackers) to help manage the process.

icon of a computer monitor 83% of planning is done online

The Planning Process

  • icon of a mobile device/tablet
    42% on mobile/tablet
  • icon of a computer monitor
    41% on desktop

The Role of Technology in Weddings

Couples rely on technology throughout the entire wedding journey, from mobile apps to wedding websites. However, when it comes to the big day, 1 in 4 couples ask guests to 'unplug'.

  • icon of an open envelope with a card with a heart on it popping out, to signify a save-the-date card for a wedding 36% send online save-the-dates
  • WeddingWire app icon 52% use a wedding planning app
  • icon of a simple wedding website in a browser window 62% create a wedding website
  • icon of a speech bubble with an ellipsis in it, like a messaging or SMS app would use 19% set up a group chat
  • icon of a hashtag (#) 54% generate a wedding hashtag

Top Sources for Finding Vendors

Couples largely utilize wedding-related websites for vendor discovery and then rely predominantly on price and availability, followed by recommendations and online reviews when deciding who to book.

  1. 1 Wedding-related websites
  2. 2 Online searches
  3. 3 Pinterest
  4. 4 Wedding shows/expo
  5. 5 Facebook

Social Media Used During Planning (Used weekly or more)

While Pinterest and Facebook are the social media sites most frequently used for wedding planning, couples utilize Pinterest 2X more than any other social channel for inspiration.

  • Pinterest 69%
  • Instagram 44%
  • YouTube 42%
  • Snapchat 27%

Top Vendors Hired

icon of a shop storefront with door, window, and awning 13 on average hired
  • icon of a digital camera
    86% photography
  • icon of a building with a peaked roof and two wide stairs leading up
    80% venue
  • icon of a hair-dryer
    75% hair + makeup
  • icon of a wedding dress
    74% wedding dress
  • icon of a single rose
    71% flowers
  • icon of a two-tiered wedding cake with icing and a wedding cake-topper
    70% wedding cake

Couples

The average age of today's marrying couple is 32. With a new generation redefining cultural and societal norms, we're seeing new behaviors grow in popularity - such as couples meeting online, a 16% increase in interracial marriage and an increase in mixed gender wedding parties.

  • icon of a birthday cake with icing and 3 candles 33 average age of grooms
  • icon of a birthday cake with icing and 3 candles 31 average age of brides
  • icon of a house 56% plan to buy a home within next 2 years
  • icon of a document with a heart on it and a signature on a line next to an X 70% change name to partner's
  • icon of a computer monitor with a heart on the screen 1 in 4 meet online
  • icon of a calendar 54% dated less than 2 years

Interracial Newlyweds

According to PEW Research Center, there has been a 5X increase since the legalization of interracial marriage 50 years ago.1 Today, 19% of all WeddingWire couples identify as having an interracial marriage.

line graph showing the increasing rate of interracial marriages from 1967 to 2015. The percentage climbs from 3% to 17% with three noticeable spikes.

Although no two couples are alike, there are unique nuances to be found amid newlyweds of similar backgrounds. For instance, when compared to all couples, Asian couples tend to invite more guests to their weddings, LGBTQ couples are more likely to live with their partner prior to getting married and Gen X are less likely to spend the night apart before the wedding.

Today's Couples by the Numbers

  • icon of a birthday cake with icing and 3 candles 32 35 32 32 31 34 44 29 average age of couple
  • icon showing a group of three people 127 132 177 127 131 107 99 134 average number of guests
  • icon showing one person 9 10 9 9 8 7 7 10 number of wedding party members
  • icon of a house 79% 68% 70% 78% 69% 85% 80% 73% lived with partner prior to marriage
  • icon showing a stamp of approval (a checkmark in a circle with a decorative border) 67% 53% 67% 66% 61% 42% 39% 72% asked for parents' blessing
  • icon of a suitcase 71% 71% 64% 67% 62% 41% 52% 74% spent night apart before wedding

Calculations based on partners with equal identifiers (i.e., same reported race).

Gen X: 1961-1981, Millennials: 1982-1996

Wedding Traditions

While certain traditions, like having a first-dance, have been embraced by couples for generations – others like walking down the aisle to non-classical music are on the rise. Regardless of the exact details couples decide on incorporating into their wedding day, couples are focused on finding ways to make their big day a direct reflection of their personal style.

Follow the timeline below to see when couples hire their vendor team and the role each one plays in bringing the couple's personalized wedding day details to life.

12 Months
Venue@2x

CEREMONY/RECEPTION VENUE

77%of wedding receptions are indoors

Caterer@2x

CATERER

54%have food served buffet-style

68%have an open-bar

Photographer@2x

PHOTOGRAPHER

42%of couples do a "first-look"

Attire@2x

SELECT DRESS/ATTIRE

80%of brides wear white

63%of grooms dress in something more casual than a tuxedo

Banddj@2x

BAND/DJ

52%of couples say they’ve seen their band/DJ perform in person prior to booking them

6 Months
Florist@2x

FLORIST

50%of couples do a bouquet toss

Cake@2x

CAKE

82%have a cake-cutting ceremony

37%weddings include a dessert bar/table

Registry@2x

CREATE REGISTRY

(WeddingWire Feature)

2 in 3Millennials create a traditional registry

Website@2x

CREATE WEDDING WEBSITE

(WeddingWire Feature)

62%of couples create a wedding website

1 in 2add accomodations into their website

Roomblock@2x

ROOM BLOCKS

(WeddingWire Feature)

63%of couples book at least one hotel room block for their guests

3 Months
Beautyandhealth@2x

BEAUTY AND HEALTH

31%started a new exercise routine or diet to prepare for the wedding

1 in 2bridesmaids pay to have their hair done by a professional for the wedding

Rehearsaldinner@2x

DISCUSS REHEARSAL DINNER

43%of the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner

Officiant@2x

OFFICIANT

39%of couples create their own vows

Wedding Day

MOST POPULAR

87% of couples perform a first dance

Gainingmomentum@2x

Gaining Momentum

(% vs. 2 years ago)

63% groom(s) dressing more casual than tuxedo (7%)

61% walking down aisle to non-classical music (7%)

59% wedding party: females wearing different dresses (14%)

54% creating a wedding hashtag (10%)

40% wedding party: including mixed genders (14%)

Coolingdown@2x

Cooling Down

(% vs. 2 years ago)

75% order of day: ceremony, cocktail hour, reception (-10%)

74% father-daughter and/or mother-son dances (-9%)

70% changing to partner’s last name (-12%)

45% begin honeymoon 1-2 days after reception (-12%)

Adding a Personal Touch

Now more than ever, couples are steering clear of the cookie cutter wedding and adding unique elements that highlight their relationship and impress guests.

Bagpipe@2x
40%

had unique musical choices during ceremony

(ex. bagpipes)

City@2x
21%

added local elements based on city where couple met or grew up

(ex. food or decor)

Broom@2x
18%

included ceremonial customs related to race/religion

(ex. jumping the broom)

Popper@2x
17%

hired special entertainment for guests

(ex. fortune teller, caricature)

Average Wedding Cost

On average, couples budget nearly $16K for their wedding ceremony/reception but spend closer to $27K once they begin to understand the true cost of each element. Varying attributes like age, region and marriage number also play a significant role in the fluctuation of spend - as Millennials spend nearly $10K more than Gen X on their wedding and those getting married for the first time spend 2X more than those on their 2nd+ marriage ($30K vs. $15K).

All-in Average Wedding Cost

  • icon showing an engagement ring
    $5,000 Engagement Ring
  • +
  • icon showing a wedding venue
    $27,000 Ceremony/Reception
  • +
  • icon showing an airplane
    $4,000 Honeymoon
  • =
icon of a piggy bank =$36,000 Total Wedding Cost
icon of calculator

Budget vs. Reality

Couples underestimate how much they'll spend on their wedding by roughly 40%.

Percent Contributed to Total Wedding Cost

On average, millennials (who account for approximately 80% of today's marrying couples) are paying for roughly 40% of their wedding, while their parents and other family members are contributing the remaining 60%. In fact, 20% of millennial couples don't spend a dime of their own money and get their wedding fully paid for. The majority (56%) of parents pull money out of their savings account to help pay for the wedding and nearly 1 in 10 dip into their retirement!

All Millennials Gen X LGBTQ
Couples 45% 39% 66% 59%
Parents 46% 51% 29% 36%
Other 9% 10% 5% 5%

Most Expensive Cities to Get Married Including surrounding metro areas

  • 1. New York
  • 2. Boston
  • 3. San Francisco
  • 4. Washington, DC
  • 5. Chicago

Average Wedding Cost by Category

Average Wedding Cost in 25 Largest Metro Area Markets

Want the Full Report?

View the entire WeddingWire Newlywed Report to get the full scoop on today’s modern couples.

Access the Report

Methodology

About WeddingWire's 2018 Newlywed Report

The 2018 Newlywed Report is primarily based on WeddingWire's Newlywed Survey - the largest survey of 2017 weddings in the industry (N=17,862). The data is collected from WeddingWire's annual Newlywed Survey, distributed to WeddingWire.com couples married between January 1st and December 31st, 2017. Respondents represent couples from all over the country with various ethnicities, income levels, race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. To provide the most comprehensive view of research collected, WeddingWire has also included findings from ad hoc studies conducted in 2017, as well as behavioral data analyzed by the company's own team of data scientists. In a typical year, WeddingWire conducts research with more than 150,000 US brides, grooms, guests and wedding professionals.