How Wedding Planning Has Changed Over the Last 10 Years

Wedding Wire interviewed over 15,000 couples to get their answers

Updated 05/17/17

Photo by Ashley Ludaescher Photography

It’s time to get the real low-down on weddings, and what better way than getting a first-hand opinion from real brides? In honor of Wedding Wire’s 10th anniversary—and the start of wedding season!—the go-to digital marketplace revealed its first and largest survey comparing different aspects of wedding planning through the last decade. The results, based on the answers from a whopping 15,000 U.S.-based couples, reveal differing trends around budget, planning pressure, and more. The results are pretty surprising, and we definitely encourage you to take a look before you’re knee-deep in planning for your own big day.

Budget

According to the survey, couples are spending nearly double on their wedding today as compared to 10 years ago, even though the guest list has generally stayed the same number of people.

Ten years ago, couples spent about $16,000 on a wedding with an average of 110 guests. But today, that number has grown to approximately $28,000 with an average of just 124 guests, making that an 81% increase over the past 10 years (the guest list only increased by a measly 13 percent).

Wedding Planning Methods

  • Make no mistake, a lot of our favorite planning traditions are more popular than ever before. For example, per the data, only 27 percent of engaged couples sent a save-the-date to guests compared to 67 percent today!

Thinking of hiring a wedding planner? That might be a good idea! Thirty-one percent of engaged couples sought the help of planner to assist with their big day, compared to less than a third 10 years ago.

Make sure you book that photographer, too. Only 34 percent of couples decided to take engagement photos, compared to a whopping 62 percent today. Say cheese!

Flower-Covered Ceremony Altar
Photo by Mariel Hannah Photography

Have a Theme in Mind?

Creative brides, you’re gonna LOVE this one! Ten years ago, only 17 percent of engaged couples incorporated a theme into their wedding, but, great news. Today, a little over 50 percent of couples plan their wedding around a theme—this trend has gone up nearly 188 percent! Feeling rustic? Go ahead! Want something a bit more beachy? Plan away.

Wedding Attire—Grooms

Keepin’ it casual is way in. Ten years ago, 31 percent of grooms dressed in a suit or opted for something more casual for their wedding-day look. But now, over half of grooms today prefer to don comfortable attire while walking down the aisle.

The Grovers Photography

Catering and Dessert

The uber popular trend of incorporating non-traditional food options has doubled, with 26 percent of couples today using a food truck, pizza bar, ice cream station, and/or local fare during their big day. Keep in mind, only 14 percent of engaged couples followed this trend 10 years ago.

More desserts, please! Over half of couples today provide their wedding guests with dessert other than the traditional wedding cake, compared to 28 percent 10 years ago.

Social Media

Go ahead and share that engagement ring selfie! Sixty-four percent of couples announce their engagement via social media compared to 18 percent 10 years ago. The same goes for announcing your nuptials.

But, make sure guests unplug on the big day. Many couples today request that guests turn off their phones to be fully present during the ceremony, compared to six percent 10 years ago.

Marble-Inspired Wedding Program
Photo by Sandy SooHoo

Finding a Vendor

With the help of technology, finding a wedding vendor is basically easier than ever before. Just 47 percent of couples a decade ago would view vendors online compared to 72 percent today. There is one downside, though. Nearly half of engaged couples today reported it being more difficult to narrow down vendors compared to just 25 percent before.

Planning Pressure

  • The media aren't always your best friends. Nearly 40 percent of engaged couples say they felt pressure from the media to have the “perfect” wedding, versus 20 percent 10 years ago.

Unfortunately, brides are feeling the heat now more than ever, too. Nearly 40 percent of brides-to-be say they do all the wedding planning themselves versus 20 percent of brides-to-be 10 years ago.

But! Grooms are also pulling their weight more, too. Ninety-two percent (yep!) of grooms say they helped with at least one aspect of the wedding planning process, compared to just 83 percent of grooms before.

And the Most Challenging Part of Wedding Planning Is...

  • The top concern of planning remains determining the budget and number of guests.

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