Top Trends in Weddings
By Ric Edelman
Helpful if, like voting, you plan on doing it often.
The average cost of a wedding fell 3.4% in 2011, to $25,631, according to the Wedding Report, which tracks industry trends. And experts predict that costs will continue to decline for several years.
Couples are opting for smaller weddings, choosing fun, simple, casual and unique weddings, according to a survey of 11,200 wedding vendors and service providers conducted by the Wedding Industry Survey Network.
Here are 12 wedding trends that experts believe will continue:
1. A smaller guest list. The number of attendees has the biggest impact on cost, so the average number of invited guests will be fewer than 150.
2. Fewer Saturdays. Vendors are seeing more Friday and Sunday bookings, which cost less than Saturdays. June is still the most popular month, but September is now a close second. August and October are also on the rise.
3. Waiting to marry. Research shows more couples waiting longer to tie the knot. Brides now marry at age 27 on average and grooms at 29.
4. Closer to home. The WeddingReport.com predicts that "destination" weddings will decline or remain flat in 2012, with more couples staying near their homes for their big day.
5. Staying put. Weddings that feature both the ceremony and reception at the same site, which simplifies planning and saves money, are more popular than ever.
6. More Internet use. Brides and grooms increasingly seek vendors online and read social media sites and blogs before making spending decisions, the study found. For example, many brides now buy their dresses online and couples find honeymoon destinations on sites such as Expedia, Orbitz or Priceline for the best deals. Some even look for wedding deals on Groupon or Living Social.
7. More aggressive negotiations. Vendors reported more couples trying to negotiate price for many services last year than ever before.
8. More wedding pictures. Photographers reported that more couples are turning to less experienced, less wellknown photographers instead of higher-priced, more experienced ones. And fewer couples want wedding albums, asking instead for digital images and files that allow them to share photos immediately with friends and family and on social network sites. Formal photos are out and candid shots are in.
9. Less formal wear. Tuxedo rentals declined 26% last year as more groomsmen opted for more casual wear. But the cost of wedding dresses increased by 10%.
10. Nontraditional gifts. New, offbeat gift registries are growing, allowing couples to register for gift cards that reflect their tastes and needs.
11. Different fare for meals. Dessert buffets are lowering reception costs, and nontraditional choices like square minicakes and cupcake tiers or pies, macaroons, and even ice cream sundae stations are gaining popularity, with choices reflecting whimsical or fun themes.
12. DIY. Vendors report an increase in the number of brides and grooms who are making certain items themselves, like favors or even invitations. Couples also spent less last year on wedding cakes and floral needs, often asking friends or relatives to handle these tasks.
The biggest decreases in spending last year, according to the survey, were for gifts for attendants and parents, bands, rehearsal dinners, and engagement announcements. More money is being spent on full-service wedding consultants, multiple photo sessions and the event's location.