Big news: The Knot Real Weddings Study 2018 results are out and we couldn't be more excited to share them with you! Never heard of our study? The Knot Real Weddings Study is the longest running and largest study of its kind (12 years running with 14,000 respondents in 2018!). And it's designed to uncover all sorts of trends to help us understand exactly how today’s couples are planning their weddings and hiring their pros (from the words they're using to describe their weddings to how much they're spending on average). Here, the top insights from The Knot Real Weddings Study 2018 -- plus what to do about it!
1. They're Spending Less Time Planning (Because They're Doing It All On Their Phones!)
It's true: Couples on average are spending 6 hours and 12 minutes planning their weddings. That's a big decline since 2013 when the average was 6 hours and 48 minutes. Why are they spending less time planning? Blame it on the phone. Today's couples live their lives on their phones, in apps and online, in front of their tiny mobile screens. That fun 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 pizza or 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: The biggest takeaway for every wedding business owner should be to understand that your website and the way you work with clients should be a 100% mobile-first experience. Add to that, you have less time than ever before to catch their attention, gain their trust and close the sale. So as you go to design your website and marketing materials and invest in outreach make sure your website is designed to be super mobile-friendly (out of the box solutions like SquareSpace and Wix can help you do that). Also, make sure that when a client does reach out to you, that you are replying back quickly. (Hint: The Knot Pro app lets you create quick replies for all inquiries that come in through The Knot!). And, when you do reply via email, keep it short (200 words or less!) more like a text message rather than several paragraphs.
2. They're Trying to Achieve an Overall Look and Feel (Not a Theme)
Photo: Vicki Grafton Photography
When we asked couples what their overall top planning priorities were, 54% told us they it was all about achieving an overall look and feel for the wedding. In other words, they want a wedding that's so them. Right in line with that notion is that when we asked couples to tell us the words that best described their wedding style, super specific words and themes like "vintage" and "do-it-yourself" have fallen 5 and 6 percentage points in the past few years.
What To Do About It: Steer clear of labels and refrain from trying to label your couples one theme or another. Instead talk to them their story. Ask them to tell you the words and the colors and even the feeling that they're trying to evoke with their event.
Also, if you haven't already, get really comfortable hearing a lot of words that may sound contradictory strewn together (like "we want a romantic, classic wedding with modern touches and a bubble tea bar for cocktail hour").
By the way, if you haven't used it already, the next time you get an inquiry from a couple on The Knot, tap to access their Vision Card. It's like a little cheat sheet on couples planning their weddings on The Knot that includes their colors, styles, guest list, budget, photos they love, and more.
3. Today's Weddings Are More Diverse Than Ever
Photo: Vicki Grafton Photography
This is a biggie! A whopping 44% of millennials are non-white and as time goes on (and especially once Gen Z starts to come of age) that number is only going to go up. Add to that 39% of couples married since 2010 married someone of a different religious background. And we're not just talking about racial and religious diversity amongst couples. Gender identity and diversity plays a role as well. According to our study in 2018, 26% of couples married last year had a mixed gender wedding party.
What To Do About It: What does all of this mean for you? It means, for one, that our industry needs to be more cognizant than ever before of the images and words we use in our marketing materials. So do an audit of your business. Check to make sure that all of your featured couples don't look exactly the same. Don't have the photos to make that happen? Get together with your favorite circle of wedding pros and plan to do a styled shoot together so that you do have the content. Having those images on your site, storefront and on social are paramount to ensuring that you're connecting and resonating with today's (and tomorrow's) couples.
4. It's All About The Guest Experience
We asked couples to tell us what their top priorities were for their wedding. While working with pros that fell within their budget was number one (as it has been every year since we started our study), the second most important priority was to ensure that their guests had a great time. Yep, you read that right: 65% of couples say that the guest experience is a top priority for them. And it's no wonder when you look at some of the other data points. Spend per guest is at an all-time high ($250/guest on average); extra guest entertainment has tripled in the past 10 years (11% to 38%); and 44% of weddings were three days or more!
What To Do About It: Play up the guest experience on your site, social profiles and storefront. Whether you're a planner, florist, band or DJ, your couples want to see that you care and think about the guest experience. So make sure that some of your photos in your portfolio include guests having a really good time. And when you chat with your clients about what they envision, be sure to emphasize how your suggestions will enhance the experience overall.
5. They're Hiring More Wedding Planners Than Ever Before
Photo: Melanie Duerkopp Photography
Wedding planners rejoice! Last year, a third of couples (29%) hired a wedding planner. That's up 10 percentage points since 2009 and we expect that number to continue to rise.
What To Do About It: Simply put, no matter who you are, it's a great idea to spend some real time getting to know more of the planner universe in your market. Go to networking events (keep an eye out for our workshops and parties) to expand your rolodex of planner contacts. A tip: Use social media to strengthen your relationship with the planners you want to work with. Comment on their posts and give props to one another on social.
6. They're Sharing More on Social Than Ever
Photo: Love Me Do Photography
This should be a total no-brainer to you by now but the fact that couples love to share their own wedding news and photos on social media is worth repeating. Of the couples who took our survey, 90% said that they actively wanted their photos to be shared and posted online. Add to that, 38% say that they shared their engagement news on social media within 24 hours of the proposal.
What To Do About It: Engage with your couples on social media 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 it and share that blog post out on social. PS You can 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!
7. They're Crazy for Video
Video is having a serious moment and it's probably here to stay. Last year, 35% of couples hired a professional videographer. That's up from 26% in 2009. On top of that, 11% of couples actually had a drone at their wedding to capture overhead footage of the venue and wedding day. And when you layer on the fact that YouTube is the fastest growing and second largest search engine in the world (second only to Google) and that by most estimates 70-85% of the content we consume online will be video by next year, all of it starts to make a lot of sense.
What To Do About It: Get used to video and start looking for ways to incorporate it into your business. 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! Also, just like planners, make great relationships with videographers in your market.
8. Their Wedding Has to Be Fun
Don't get us wrong: 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 from this past year 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 (23% 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 (29%)
- Fun (25%)
- Down-to-Earth (23%)
- Elegant (22%)
- Classic (22%)
What To Do About It: Be fun! 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 emails with inquiring couples and on your website.
9. They're Breaking All the Traditions (And Making New Ones!)
To be blunt, most couples want nothing to do with old-school wedding 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% skipping the bride's side and groom's side at the ceremony and only 23% of weddings last year took place in a religious institution. Also, when we asked Gen Z respondents (the next big wave of couples coming your way) to answer questions about wedding traditions, they were even more progressive. Amongst Gen Z couples, 43% say they would merge traditions; 42% would take an existing tradition and put a twist on it; 23% would create their own unique wedding tradition.
What To Do About It: Do an audit across your website, storefront on The Knot, social channels and even in 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.
Also, think of this trend toward reinvention and uber-personalization as an opportunity to rethink how you do what you do. Ask yourself, how could you reinvent your product or service or space? Tip for the taking: Follow people outside of our industry to gather inspiration. The interior design world and the fashion world are great places to start.
Want more? Yeah you do!