Millennials, who are often referred to as the 'instant gratification' generation, make no exception when it comes to wedding planning. Not only are the majority of millennials doing recon on their wedding PRIOR to getting engaged, but right off the bat they're looking for checklists, budget tools and help on where to start in order to be efficient in the planning process. This generation (who accounts for 80% of today's marrying couples) is driven to get things done with a digital-first mindset (think: planning on mobile apps, researching vendors and even utilizing digital RSVPs to name a few).

2 out of 3 millennials

take at least 1 wedding planning action prior to getting engaged

Top Pre-Eng Actions Among Millennials

  • icon of a fancy dress on a hanger 35% look at wedding dresses/attire online
  • icon of a pushpin 30% create a Pinterest board for inspiration
  • icon of a building with a peaked roof and two wide stairs leading up to a door with a heart over it 25% research venues

Where is Planning Done

On average, couples spend nearly 2 hours a week planning their wedding and spend 80% of their time planning online. When looking at online planning behaviors based on time of day, mobile usage peaks from 9PM – midnight after couples are home from work and often multi-tasking, though Sunday is also a popular planning day on mobile.

80% of planning is done online
  • icon of a mobile device/smartphone 39%

    plan on mobile

  • icon of a desktop computer monitor 41%

    plan on desktop/laptop

Top 10 Wedding Search Terms on Google

What else are couples searching for on Google when it comes to weddings? It's no surprise that searches for checklists, venues and budgets come to the top as determining a budget, finding vendors and knowing you're on the right track are some of the biggest challenges couples say they face during the planning process.

icon of a mobile device/smartphone

Plus, another trend they've spotted is using the search term "near me" on mobile – proving the importance of shopping local to create that personal experience. In the last year alone, dress-related searches that include the term "near me" on mobile has increased by 600%!

Top 10 Wedding Search Terms
  1. 1

    wedding planner (or planning)

  2. 2

    wedding checklist

  3. 3

    christmas wedding planner

  4. 4

    how to plan a wedding

  5. 5

    wedding venue near me

  6. 6

    wedding timeline

  7. 7

    wedding planning timeline

  8. 8

    wedding budget

  9. 9

    wedding planners near me

  10. 10

    wedding coordinator

Source: Google 2018

Who is Doing the Planning

Forty percent of couples start to plan their wedding less than 1 month after getting engaged. Their first actions include setting a date, researching venues and determining a budget.

  • icon of a lightbulb 27%

    hire a wedding planner, with day-of-planners being the most popular type.

% of Planning
  • 54% bride +
  • 25% groom +
  • 14% parents +
  • 7% other
  • = 100% planned!

(based on females in heterosexual relationship)

What Couples Look For When Finding Vendors

Aside from price, reviews and photos are the most important features couples look at when deciding which vendors to initially contact. In fact, nearly 80% of couples find reviews to be very important in their decision making process and are more likely to consider a vendor with both positive and negative reviews than no reviews at all.

  1. 1 price
  2. 2 reviews
  3. 3 photos
  4. 4 availability
  5. 5 responsiveness
  6. 6 location

Role of Tech Throughout Wedding

In just a few short years, the role technology has played in the planning process has greatly evolved. Today, nearly 3 out of 4 couples create wedding websites to share information with their guests (up 15% in the last 3 years) while more than half are creating a wedding hashtag for social sharing (up nearly 10% since 2015).

  • Create a Website 74%
  • Use a Planning App 66%
  • Use Pinterest for Inspiration 64%
  • Offer Online RSVPs 54%
  • Set Up Hashtag 53%

Top Vendors Hired

On average, couples hire 14 vendors for their wedding day.

  • icon of a camera 90% photography
  • icon of a building with a door and peaked roof 86% venue
  • icon of a compact mirror and lipstick 80% hair & makeup
  • icon of a dress with a sweetheart neckline and big skirt 78% wedding dress
  • icon of a two-tiered cake with scalloped icing and a heart on top 76% cake
  • icon of a flower 74% flowers
  • icon of a turntable/record player 72% DJ


Individuals are continuing to get married later in life (average age 33) due to prioritizing other aspects such as education, careers and even travel. Often times these major milestones include exposure to a new city and meeting new people, which is why it comes as no surprise that nearly 6 out of 10 newlyweds marry someone with a different background. While all couples are unique, the blending of these backgrounds is something that couples often highlight in their wedding through ceremonial traditions, food and even décor.

Couple's Journey to Finding The One

  • 23% met through friends
  • 55% dated 2+ years
  • 72% lived together
  • 35% owned a pet together
  • 54% discussed finances
icon of an engagement ring with a large sparkly stone

Celebrating What Makes Couples Unique

Nearly 1 in 5 couples incorporate cultural elements related to race or religion into their ceremony to pay homage to their background.

58% marry someone with a different background
How Couples Differ
  • 22%

    grew up in different regions

  • 18%

    have different religious beliefs

  • 17%

    have different ethnicities

  • 15%

    are of different races

Methodology: Couples could select more than one category

Today's Couples by the Numbers

Although every couple has its own identity, we see that race, sexual orientation and/or cultural roots can create similarities among newlyweds of similar backgrounds. For instance, Asian brides are less likely to wear white than the national average, and while the size of LGBTQ weddings continues to increase (now 110), the number of wedding party members remains a bit smaller than the average wedding.

  • icon of a birthday cake with icing and 3 candles 33 37 32 32 32 34 45 30 average age of couple
  • icon showing a group of three people 126 133 219 125 119 110 100 132 average number of guests
  • icon showing one person 10 11 10 9 9 8 7 10 number of wedding party members
  • icon showing a stamp of approval (a checkmark in a circle with a decorative border) 67% 51% 67% 70% 64% 49% 40% 74% asked for parents' blessing
  • icon of a document with a heart on it and a signature on a line next to an X 80% 77% 43% 83% 74% 60% 74% 81% changed last name
  • icon of a clothes hanger 82% 63% 67% 86% 81% 69% 67% 86% at least one wore white

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

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


Although weddings are all about celebrating the happy couple, couples themselves and their planning behavior show us that guest experience is just as important! From starting the day in matching 'getting ready attire' (hello, bridesmaid perk) to interactive food stations and unique entertainment (palm reading anyone?) it's all about impressing guests from start to finish and creating a night to remember.

Follow the timeline of events below to see how couples are personalizing their wedding day and incorporating new and time-honored traditions.

icon of two glasses of champagne clinking together

Wedding Party

  • 65% of couples get ready with their wedding party
  • 60% of couples have a ring bearer and/or flower girl
  • 55% of bridesmaids get hair/makeup done by a professional
  • 34% have a mixed-gender wedding party (ex. man of honor)
  • 28% do a pre-wedding activity together (ex. golf)
  • icon of a sheath dress with a tulip wrap skirt and a sweetheart neckline. icon is positioned in a light blue circle with sparkle accents 63%

    of bridesmaids wear different dresses ( +18% since 2015)

icon of two wedding bands overlapping with a heart above them


  • 77% of fathers escort one or both down aisle
  • 70% of ceremonies are 30 minutes or less
  • 64% include a reading during the ceremony
  • 44% of couples write their own vows
  • 25% held in a religious institution
  • 17% include customs related to race/religion
icon of a party popper: a striped cone with confetti and streamers bursting out of the end


  • 79% incorporate their wedding colors into their florals
  • 52% incorporate a wedding theme into their décor
  • 47% of couples give a speech during their reception
  • 36% display a wedding hashtag for guests to share images on social media
  • 22% add elements based on where couples met or grew up (ex. décor, cuisine)
  • icon of two musical notes. icon is positioned in a light blue circle with sparkle accents
icon of a domed metal serving/catering dish, with garnish

Food & Drinks

  • 84%

    do a cake-cutting ceremony

  • 76%

    have an open bar

  • 28%

    have a signature cocktail (vodka being the most popular spirit)

  • 24%

    serve late night snacks

  • 18%

    have an interactive food station (ex. oyster bar, crepe station)

icon of a person with short hair wearing a tie, next to a person with long hair

Guest Experience

  • 69%

    hand out favors (food is most popular)

  • 25%

    have a photobooth at their reception

  • 25%

    host a post-wedding after party

  • 15%

    hire unique entertainment (ex. fortune teller, wine tasting, etc)

  • 14%

    provide guests with transportation

Average Wedding Cost

On average, couples underestimate their wedding ceremony and reception budget by nearly 45%. While this may come as a surprise, 1 in 3 couples acknowledge that their inital budget is not always the most realistic and more of a starting-point (as it's often set before making some major decisions like location, venue, guest size, etc.). Sixty-five percent of couples go on to create a more detailed budget as they become educated on vendor expenses, but often times it's the personalized details and extra upgrades that contibuted to a higher overall spend. Today, couples are spending nearly $30,000 which is roughly $230 per guest.

All In Average Wedding Cost

  • icon showing a simple engagement ring $5,000 Engagement Ring
  • +
  • icon of a building with a peaked roof and two wide stairs leading up $29,200 Ceremony/Reception
  • +
  • icon showing an airplane in flight $4,500 Honeymoon
  • =
icon of a piggy bank =$38,700 Total Wedding Cost


icon of a calculator
On average, couples expect to pay $16,000, but end up spending roughly $29,000 on their wedding.

Why the difference? Nearly 80% of couples set a rough budget prior to researching any vendors – often times under-estimating the cost of products and services.

Why Couples (Often) Spend More

icon showing a person with short hair wearing a collared shirt, next to a person with long hair wearing a sweetheart neckline
roughly half of couples spend more than planned
Top 5 Reasons Couples Increase Total Cost
  • 33%

    Initial budget was set lower than reality

  • 28%

    Fell in love with things "we needed to have" during planning

  • 25%

    Added custom/personalized elements

  • 24%

    Guest count changed

  • 21%

    Opted for upgrades (ex. 2nd shooter, top shelf bar)

Who's Paying?

The average couple pays for roughly 45% of their wedding cost, with family and friends footing the remaining bill. Couples tell us they mostly dip into their savings (42%), find ways to make some extra cash (30%) and even incur credit card debt (20%) to cover their share.

All Millennials Gen X LGBTQ 2nd Marriage
Couples 45% 40% 69% 57% 78%
Parents 46% 51% 27% 35% 19%
Other 9% 9% 4% 8% 3%

Variation in Spend

Just like couples, no two weddings are alike, and cost can easily fluctuate based on factors like age, who's paying and whether you consider your wedding to be a destination. In fact, 1 in 4 couples consider their wedding to be 'a type of destination wedding'; meaning it isn't taking place in either of their hometowns or where they currently live.

Wedding Ceremony/Reception Spend
Gen X
Destination Weddings
Hometown Weddings
Opposite-sex Couples
Same-sex Couples
1st Marriage
2nd+ Marriage
Parents Cover Full Cost
Couples Cover Full Cost

Calculations based on partners with equal identifiers (i.e., age, marriage #, etc.)

2018 Average Wedding Cost by Category

2018 Average Wedding Cost in 25 Largest Metro Areas


About WeddingWire's 2019 Newlywed Report

The 2019 Newlywed Report is primarily based on WeddingWire's Newlywed Survey – the largest survey of 2018 weddings in the industry (N=18,395). The data is collected from WeddingWire's annual Newlywed Survey, distributed to couples married between January 1st and December 31st, 2018. 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 2018, 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.

  • Lauren Goodson Director of Insights
  • Kirsten Francis Senior Market Insights Manager
Looking for the WeddingWire 2018 Newlywed Report? You can find it here.