Good News, Gen-Z Parents. You Won’t Have to Pay for That Wedding

wedding ring
Ring Detail of Bride (L) and groom rings, following their Coachella Wedding. Photographer: Matt Cowan/Getty Images

For the first time, wedding planning brand The Knot has included members of Generation Z—those born from around 1995 to 2010—in its 2018 Real Weddings Study.

Despite the youthfulness of the study’s respondents, 87 percent see themselves getting married in the future, though they plan on executing the event on their own terms. The results also confirmed the ongoing shift in attitudes that demand weddings be more personalized celebrations, rethinking traditions in new and unique ways.

The survey was conducted by Juv Consulting, a group of marketing strategists (all Gen Zers themselves) who are trying to help businesses better appeal to their demographic. The survey sample size was 201 U.S. respondents aged 14 to 23.

Mom and Dad Don’t Have to Pay

Nearly all the respondents (92 percent) reported that being financially stable before marriage is important to them when it comes to paying for the future celebrations, and 33 percent predicted that they, along with their partner, will pay for their weddings on their own. Only 5.5 percent of respondents said they believe their parents would solely pay for the wedding.

“The overall trend has been moving toward couples paying for their wedding,” says Lauren Kay, deputy editor at the Knot. “We are seeing couples marrying later in life, and so they have often established themselves as working professionals and have income to support the event. It’s also an effort to have more control.”

Across all age groups, the 2018 results showed that 91 percent of couples contributed to their wedding budget; 9 percent of those couples paid for the event entirely on their own. Among surveyed couples married last year, the same percentage contributed no funds for their celebration.

We’ll Do It Our Own Way

Personalization is already increasingly important: Some 53 percent of millennial respondents reported that they want their wedding be a reflection of their relationship. Kay says the survey confirms that the next generation will take things to a new level of personalization and customization, especially in relation to conventional wedding traditions.

While 73 percent of Gen Z respondents reported that wedding and engagement traditions do matter to them, only 18 percent plan on observing those traditions in a conventional way. Instead, they’ll come with a twist. More than 80 percent say they will merge traditions or create their own customs. Forty-four percent of Gen-Z respondents saw themselves merging traditions from more than one culture.

Ways to put a personal stamp on a celebration vary, but Kay says the Knot is seeing traditions tweaked, from a simple reimagining of how a couple walks down the aisle to grand thematic statements (such as one couple who based their event around Game of Thrones) or incorporating unique entertainment such as synchronized swimmers. One in five Gen Z respondents anticipates hiring a professional to plan the wedding.

Getting Married for a Good Cause

Being socially conscious is also important. Nearly 60 percent of Gen Z respondents said they are likely to include a charity in their wedding registry as a way to give back and use the event to make a social impact.

“This generation is focused on inclusivity and is socially conscious—and wants to identify with the brands they are supporting and wants them to have like-minded values,” Kay says.

Such results are supported by a November 2018 study of Generation Z by McKinsey & Co., which found that the group views consumption as access (rather than possession), as an expression of individual identity, and as a matter of ethical concern.

According to Nielsen data, Gen Z now accounts for 26 percent of the total media audience in the U.S., making it the single largest audience segment. By 2020, the generation will account for 40 percent of all consumers, influencing nearly $4 billion in discretionary spending, according to May 2018 research from MNI Targeted Media, a division of Meredith Corp.

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