Here's the deal: We've had our finger on the pulse of wedding trends for more than two decades, and over 25 million couples and counting have trusted us to provide them with the tools, pros and content to bring their weddings to life. As a result, The Knot Real Weddings study is the most trusted and comprehensive in the industry. And at 11 years strong, it's also the longest running study of its kind! A study like this gives us the ability to track wedding trends, like average cost, guest list size and color palettes for more than a decade.
And anyone can create a survey and collect data on couples, but far too often, survey averages and numbers take the place of real-life application. So instead of providing you with a data dump from the latest survey, we pulled together a handful of trends that are not only big news, they're also ones that can impact your business and bottom line. Here, the eight latest trends from The Knot Real Weddings Study 2017 and what to do about them!
Trend 1: Couples Are All About Breaking Tradition
Photo: Heather Waraksa
To put it bluntly, most couples want nothing to do with traditions. Even the most classic of couples are looking to reinvent the norms and infuse their personalities into the day. And the latest stats are eye-opening: 90% of couples are skipping the "brides side" and "grooms side" at their wedding ceremony. And 31% of women have a mixed gender wedding party and 9% of men do. Add to that, 8% of couples didn't even have a wedding party. That percentage has doubled since 2007! Couples are also less likely than ever to do a bouquet toss or a garter toss and even the notion of having a traditional bridal shower is losing ground.
Why the change? For one, couples are living together for longer than ever before before they marry. A whopping 54% of couples live together for 2+ years before their wedding day. That number is up from 44% in 2010!
As a result, traditional gender-specific terms target like “bridal” sound outdated and in many cases, are a turn-off to couples planning their weddings together.
What To Do About It: When a couple finds you online, are you turning them off with outdated language? Do an audit across your website, storefront on The Knot, social channels and even your contracts. Look for the words "bridal" and "groom" and "bride" and replace them with "wedding" or "couple." Remember it’s all about THEM, not the bride or the bride and her mom. So don’t direct the conversation only to her and use her in reference to the wedding.
Trend 2: It's All About An Overall Look and Feeling (Not a Color or a Theme).
Right in line with the emphasis on infusing their stories and backgrounds into each and every element of the wedding day, couples are increasingly steering clear of the word "theme" or ONLY using a color to describe their wedding. They are far more likely to use a series of words and styles to describe their ideal wedding day. In fact, 69% of couples say that the overall look and feel of the day are a top priority (even moreso than the venue or food and drink).
In other words, they don't want to be labeled. They want a wedding that's so THEM.
Of course this puts a lot of pressure on you all to nail that initial inquiry email. You have to somehow understand what they mean by "a romantic wedding with oranges and pinks in the desert with hints of the classics and a little vintage." (Cue the sighs.)
What To Do About It: Prepare for a shameless plug: When a couple reaches out to you on The Knot, you get upfront access to detailed information about their wedding including the words and descriptions they're using to describe their weddings. It's called The Knot Vision Card and you get access to the styles, colors, guest list count, and their must-haves in their own words. You can (and should) use all of this information to personalize your response back to inquiries that come your way. It will help you create a more meaningful relationship with them and close the sale faster!
Trend 3: It Has to Be FUN!
Photo: Kaytee Lauren, LLC
Yes, the words "romantic" and "elegant" and even "classic" still rank in the top five of words couples use to describe their wedding days. But the more interesting part of the data suggests that there are some words that are on the rise amongst couples. A quarter of couples are now using the word "fun" to describe their wedding days. Another word gaining momentum? "Down-to-earth" is on the rise as a top descriptor (22% vs 16% in 2008).
Translation: They may still be spending a lot on their wedding days and asking for romantic florals but they want their wedding day to feel fun.
Here, a quick snapshot of the top five descriptions:
- Romantic (27%)
- Fun (25%)
- Elegant (22%)
- Down-to-Earth (22%)
- Classic (20%)
What To Do About It: Whether you're offering a high-touch sophisticated experience or you take a more casual approach with your clients, the word "fun" resonates and it's up to you to play that sentiment back! Find new ways to infuse fun into your marketing materials and overall client experience. When you reply to an inquiry, start with a big "congratulations on your engagement!" and then get to the meat of the message. And be celebratory in your captions on social media, in your storefront description and your website.
Trend 4: It's All About the Guest Experience
Photo: A Guy and Girl Photography
All signs point to the wedding guest experience. Spend per guest is at an all-time high at $268 per guest (up $74 per guest in 2009). And here's one of the most telling stats: 40% of couples in 2017 hired extra guest entertainment for their wedding day (vs. only 11% in 2009!). Add to that, almost half of weddings (44%) in 2017 were 3 or more days!
What To Do About It: Find new ways to play up the guest experience both in person but also in the images and content you put on your storefront, your blog and social channels. DJs and entertainer, consider a Snapchat filter for your couples with your company name. Try freshening up your storefront and website with details that center around the guest experience (like the warm pashminas, the extra fun place settings, or the stand-out cocktail bar).
Trend 5: Couples Are Hiring More Planners Than Ever!
Photo: Epaga FOTO
More than a quarter of couples hired a professional wedding planner in 2017. That number is up from 19% in 2009. Why? Scan back up to trends 1 through 4 above–couples are putting more value on the overall experience. Enter wedding planners!
What To Do About It: Take this as a cue to invest in your relationships with other wedding planners in your area. Get out there and network! Sign up for one of The Knot Pro education workshops this year and expand your network. Online, take advantage of messenger apps to connect with other pros and influencers. Something as simple as making a meaningful comment on an Instagram story or Facebook post goes a long way in strengthening your relationships.
Trend 6: Couples Are Spending Less Time Overall Planning Their Weddings
It's true. Couples are just generally not spending as much of their time actually planning their weddings. In fact, they're spending an average of an hour less per week (5.8 hours) than they did in 2013 (6.7 hours). Add to that, couples are waiting 3 months after their engagement to even start planning their weddings (engaged for an average of 15 months but planning for only 12).
What's going on here? Phones. Period. Couples live their lives on their phones, in apps and online in front of their tiny mobile screens. That fact is changing the way in which couples (and really all of us) approach projects, research, tasks, messaging and transactions. And while planning a wedding is far more complicated than ordering a necklace on Etsy or ordering a car to the airport, the digital landscape is shifting behaviors and the weddings industry is susceptible to all of it.
What To Do About It: We have said it 1,000s of times at this point but we'll keep saying it until everyone is on the same page. You have to be 100% mobile-first in everything you do online. Your website has to work on a mobile phone BETTER than it works on a full desktop. Your responses to inquiries need to be short and mobile-first (no big attachments or long paragraphs), and you have to be quicker than ever to reply to initial inquiries.
Trend 7: More Social Sharing Before and After the Wedding
Photo: Love Me Do Photography
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone but the new numbers from our study are biggies. Almost all couples have a wedding website (82%) to share the details of their weddings with guests. More than half (64%) have their own hashtag; 23% have a custom Snapchat filter on their wedding day; and 9% are using a photo sharing app to collect all of their guests' images from the wedding weekend. All of this just to say that couples want their wedding days to be seen and shared online. Whether it's photos of their engagement party on social or their wedding day photos appearing on TheKnot.com, more is more when it comes to sharing.
What To Do About It: If you really want to speak their language and establish a close relationship with your couples, then make a plan to engage with them online in the days and months leading up to the wedding day. Re-gram their engagement photos onto your social channels and use their hashtags (it'll make your name and business more discoverable amongst their wedding guests). After the wedding day, blog about their wedding day and share it out on social. Use that content as a way to not only reinforce the experience with your clients but to also go out and find your next dream couple!
Trend 8: They're Hiring More Videographers Than Ever!
Video: Brian Bossany Photography
Video is on the rise in a big way and 35% of couples hired a videographer in 2017 (vs. 26% in 2009). Add to that, 10% of couples reportedly had a drone capture footage of their wedding days last year.
This is obviously great news for all of you videographers but it's also fabulous news for everyone else in the industry. Why so exciting? According to some estimates, 80% of internet content consumption will be video by the year 2020. With more video content creation around each wedding day, every wedding pro will now have more access to video content!
What To Do About It: Get oriented around video. Make great relationships with videographers and get to know and understand what their process is for creating content and then sharing it out. And beyond the professional content, we suggest you familiarize yourself with video creation and start experimenting. Try going live from an industry event (like a mixer put on by The Knot Pro), posting behind-the-scenes video to Instagram stories the morning of or day before the wedding as you're setting up, or even starting a weekly series on Facebook where you show your followers what it's really like to do what you do!
Want More? Of Course You Do!