People love to blame millennials. Apparently we’re killing everything from yogurt to golf. We singlehandedly kill industries with our insistence on hipster-approved living. And of course, we’re ruining weddings. We’re getting married later and we’re not buying diamonds—can you imagine? If only we could stop eating avocado toast for one month, we’d surely be able to afford a wedding, a starter home, and all the diamonds in the land.
It’s ridiculous. I mean, it’s all ridiculous—that we’ve ruined napkins and bars of soap and motorcycles—but the wedding argument is particularly flawed. We live in a time of rising cost of living, we’re saddled with student loan debt, and sure, maybe we’re opting to wear comfortable sneakers when we walk down the aisle occasionally. Is that a crime? Nope. So, here's why millennials really aren't changing weddings (it's not like we’re the first generation to come up with new wedding trends.
Some of These “Trends” Are Just Contradictory
As a society, we eat up a good headline about millennials, but let’s be honest—a lot of them just blow a small survey out of proportion. Millennials can’t all be eloping, like one survey says, while at the same time all be having brunch weddings with macaroon stations. We’re not all getting married in barns and all tying the knot at a courthouse to save money. If anything, you could maybe argue that millennials are, in general, branching out and tailoring our nuptials to make them more personal. Maybe we’re expanding the notion of what a wedding can look like, but it’s not like all millennials are moving in a specific direction trying to radically change things.
Some of Our Changes Aren’t by Choice
Now, there are some changes that we can’t ignore—millennials are getting married later, for instance, and it may prove true that fewer of us choose to get married at all. But is that a vendetta against marriage or is it just a consequence of circumstance? The fact that we’re getting married later, buying houses later (if at all), starting families later—they’re all connected. And they all come from the same place: a lack of funds."We believe the delay in homeownership is due to tighter credit standard and lifestyle changes, including delayed marriage and children," Michelle Meyer, a U.S. economist at BAML, recently wrote. "We do not expect these factors to change in the medium term, keeping the homeownership rate low for young adults."
Yes, you can argue that some of us get married later because we grew up with high divorce rates and want to take our time more with the decision—and that’s certainly true for some of us. But that just doesn’t change the fact that we just don’t have the money to do some of these things.
In fact, surveys have shown that millennials are skipping their friends’ weddings because the cost is too high, and that group honeymoons are a more frequent occurrence. And of course, there’s the diamond issue. When the Economist broached the question, “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” Twitter exploded with people pointing out that many young people are working low-paid jobs and struggling to pay the bills. Sure, we may be changing traditional engagements—but we can’t afford not to. (https://twitter.com/clinton_ngn/status/749077318103072768)
There Have Always Been Wedding Trends
Sure, some wedding quirks you can spot as millennial from a mile off. Mason jars, unfinished wood, choosing a seat (not a side!)—we see them all over Instagram, along with the personalized hashtags. But those aren’t changing weddings forever—they are just trends. And there have always been wedding trends and will always be wedding trends, just like clothing or food fads.
In the 1850s, for example, weddings weren’t even particularly celebratory. They were a more solemn affair, without music, and often took place at home. Oh, and the bride wore whatever color she damn well pleased. Hats have gone in and out of fashion, wartime austerity lead to sparser celebrations, and the '80s were...well, they were the '80s. Every generation—even every season—has its own little quirks and things people want to stamp onto their wedding day. And they’ll just keep changing as time goes on.
Maybe there are some changes in the way that millennials are going about weddings. But the only ones that have been shown conclusively are much more products of circumstance. We can’t afford any other option. So before you panic about food trucks and personalized cocktails, calm down and remember it’s just a passing fad. There will be a whole new wave of them in a few years and, if we are making weddings a little more personal, is that really a bad thing?