No more wedding bells? Only 13% of Gen Z would get married in a church

NEW YORK — Forget walking down the aisle to “The Wedding March” — a new survey suggests that couples today are looking to make their wedding as unique as they are themselves. A poll of 2,000 adults in serious relationships, engaged or married, split evenly by generation, reveals that 68 percent feel it is important that their wedding be as customized as possible rather than follow tradition.

For 45 percent, that means hosting the ceremony in a place with personal significance. Meanwhile, others agreed that it means ditching the same old tunes and choosing a different song to walk down the aisle to (36%), leaving dress code norms behind (29%), and choosing an unconventional theme (18%).

One in five millennials would even take it a step further and incorporate a surprise performance by the couple, guests, or a professional performer. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents feel weddings are more memorable when they reflect the couple’s lives.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Minted Weddings, the survey revealed that regardless of how the couple chooses to customize their day, some traditions are best left in the past. Customs like not seeing each other before the ceremony (36%) and wearing a white dress (36%) are considered outdated.

That doesn’t mean guests should come in their all-white attire. Almost one in five (19%) Gen Zers say wearing white is the rudest thing you can do as a guest, whereas only two percent of baby boomers would also take offense. 

However, the top tradition couples are leaving behind is the bride’s family paying for the wedding (46%), so much so that the majority of respondents say that they and their partner are forking out the big bucks together.

Ceremony locations are also seeing a shift. When analyzed by age, the number of respondents who would get married in a house of worship declined with each generation — 39 percent of baby boomers, 24 percent of Gen Xers, 18 percent of millennials, and just 13 percent of Gen Zers. 

When it comes time to make the big decisions, many couples tend to base their final calls on budget (45%). However, 16 percent of Gen Zers are likely to make a pros and cons list, more so than any other generation. 

The survey also found that 63 percent of married couples encountered at least one surprise mishap on their wedding day or weekend. Most commonly, those surprises included family drama (34%), missing or late guests (32%), and inclement weather (27%).

Food mishaps such as “[the] wedding cake toppled over”, and “my mom spilled the punch she had just made” also wreaked havoc on their perfect day.

Many couples weren’t letting anything get them down, however, as 48 percent simply let it go, while 30 percent handled it themselves. Only five percent of respondents admitted those unexpected turns ruined their big day.

“Planning a wedding is like writing a love story. It’s about gathering the people whom you cherish most. It’s about traditions, but making them your own. It’s important that couples’ personalities shine through in the celebration,” says a Minted spokesperson in a statement.

Almost two in five (39%) have an “A” and “B” list for their wedding guests — with “A” being people who are definitely invited and “B” being alternates depending on factors such as cost or RSVPs. This was especially true for Gen Zers, with 62 percent creating dual guest lists, compared to 43 percent of millennials, 31 percent of Gen Xers, and only 19 percent of baby boomers. 

A-listers include immediate family (79%), close friends (72%), extended family (52%), and family friends (50%). Back-up guests include current and former colleagues (44%), childhood friends that they may not currently be in contact with (43%), current and former teachers and educators (33%), and friends of the bride and groom’s parents (32%).

Respondents were divided on how to deal with plus ones. Many (39%) believe it is most appropriate when the couple knows the guest’s partner. Others will include a plus-one if the guest is living with their partner (31%) or as long as the guest and their plus-one have been dating for more than six months (29%).

Only 11 percent of respondents would never give out plus-ones, including 18 percent of baby boomers, more than any other generation. 

When asked what advice they’d bestow on couples planning their wedding now, respondents highlighted communicating opinions honestly (57%), going with the flow (46%), and making a detailed budget (45%).

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who are in serious relationships, engaged or married, split evenly by generation (500 Gen Z, 500 millennials, 500 Gen X and 500 baby boomers) was commissioned by Minted Weddings between June 26 and July 4, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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