February 14, 2023

2023 Welcomes New Wedding Trends from Gen Z Couples and an Increased Reliance on Wedding Professionals, According to The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study

Leading Industry Study Reveals Couples are Leaning on Wedding Professionals More Than Ever, Starting with the Proposal, and the Growing Role of Tech in Wedding Planning among Members of Generation Z 

NEW YORK, NY, February 14, 2023 — The Knot, a digital wedding planning authority and one of the largest vendor marketplaces, today releases The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study. The study captured responses from nearly 12,000 couples who got married in 2022 to uncover the latest trends in weddings. Coming off a record year for weddings in 2022, as 2.6 million couples said “I do” following COVID-19 postponements and pent-up demand, 2023 is likely to return to “pre-pandemic” norms, with some interesting generational trends. With the oldest members of Gen Z turning 25 and entering the core marrying age-range in 2022, new wedding trends and key differences between this generation and millennials are emerging. 

In 2022, couples confidently celebrated their big days with loved ones—93% of 2022 weddings took place as planned on their original date. The study also revealed that wedding professionals continue to play a pivotal role throughout the entire wedding journey, starting even earlier with the engagement, as nearly one-fourth of couples hired vendors for their proposal—almost double the number in 2019. With over 73% of couples using a wedding planning website, The Knot Vendor Marketplace continues to be one of the most reliable sources to help couples find and book wedding professionals for their proposal and wedding day. 

“As a growing number of Gen Z couples begin to get married, we’re starting to see a new wave of trends—particularly when it comes to making a statement about themselves, such as incorporating cultural elements or a unique theme or color,” said Lauren Goodson, Senior Director of Insights of The Knot. “When it comes to planning the wedding, The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study reveals how Gen Z is embracing technology more than any previous generation, paving the way for new opportunities in efficiency and communication to meet their needs.”  

2022 Weddings at a Glance:

  • The study revealed that only 7% of couples said that COVID-19 impacted their wedding date (27% in 2021).
  • Couples hired an average of 14 vendors for their wedding day, with the dress being the top category (93%), followed by venue (90%) and photographer (88%). 
  • Nearly a quarter of couples hired wedding professionals for their proposals (23%), an 11% increase compared to 2019.  
  • One-third of couples incorporated a wedding theme (up 13% from 2017) that included out-of-the-box ideas such as “Roaring ‘20s with Star Wars influence,” “Taylor Swift and Cats” and “Vintage Nintendo.”
  • Rising trends include unplugged ceremonies with no videos or photos (45%, up 23% from 2017) and having a signature cocktail (40%, up 17% compared to 2017), while “Perfect,” by Ed Sheeran, remained the most popular first-dance song for the sixth year in a row. Trends on their way out include wedding favors (48%, down 21% from 2017), due in part to many becoming more mindful about sustainability, and creating a wedding hashtag (32%, a 23% drop from 2017).
  • Guest count was an average of 117 guests, an increase compared to 105 in 2021. Summer and early fall weddings trended slightly higher, with 123 guests on average. 

“With the return of weddings after an unusual three years, couples are raising the bar to create authentic celebrations while continuing to heavily rely on wedding professionals to bring their visions to life, even before the wedding planning begins,” said Lauren Kay, Executive Editor of The Knot. “This not only demonstrates the significance couples place on these occasions, but also the value that vendors provide in creating the most memorable moments for them.” 

A Look Toward 2023*:

  • Wedding volume in 2023 is anticipated to return to 2019 (pre-COVID) levels with approximately 2.1 million wedding receptions. 
  • The most popular day to get married this year is September 23, 2023, marking the first time in more than five years that the date did not fall in October. This is because couples are drawn to matching dates (23rd in 2023). 
  • For the seventh year in a row, October is still expected to be the most popular month to get married. 
  • More than 65% of couples will wed in the summer and fall of 2023. 
  • The average expected guest count is 115 people. 
  • Despite the current state of the economy, the majority of couples getting married in 2023 are not making changes to their original budgets (70%).

Gen Z (ages 18-25) vs. Millennial (ages 26-41) Views on Wedding Trends: 

As a growing number of Gen Z couples begin to get married, key differences are emerging around how they approach their relationships, wedding planning and the day itself. When it comes to dating, 68% of Gen Z couples dated for two-plus years before getting engaged, an 8% increase compared to millennials. Additionally, 90% of Gen Z couples spoke about future finances before their engagement (4% more than millennials). In terms of wedding planning and celebrating the big day, three key themes are apparent among Gen Zers.

It’s Vital to Capture and Share the Moment: 

  • A vast majority of Gen Zers believe taking engagement photos is a must (89%, +10% vs. millennials). 
  • On the wedding day, 83% say capturing photos and videos are the most important elements (+7% vs. millennials) and nearly 80% have a guest book at the wedding to collect guest sentiments (+7% vs. millennials). 
  • More than a third of Gen Z couples included guest entertainment such as performers and fireworks at their weddings, with 31% providing some type of photography, like Polaroid cameras, selfie stations or photo booths (+8% vs. millennials). 

Gen Z Likes to Make a Statement: 

  • Gen Z embraces opportunities to surprise and delight guests with about 40% including ethnic, religious and/or cultural elements into their wedding (like jumping the broom or lighting a unity candle), compared to 32% of millennials. 
  • About two-thirds (67%) of Gen Z couples reported having a grand entrance or exit (think sparklers or fireworks) compared to 49% of millennials. 
  • Younger couples are also opting to incorporate vibrant and unconventional colors, with green as a popular choice among members of Gen Z (56%).

Technology is Key to Planning: 

  • Gen Zers are notably more likely to use online chats to speak with vendors (40%, +10% vs. millennials) and watch online videos for tips or inspiration (51%, +7% vs. millennials). 
  • They’re also shaking up how wedding information is shared, such as including a QR code on their save-the-dates or invitations that link to their wedding website (26%, +6% vs. millennials).

Importance of Unique Proposals and Hiring the Dream Vendor Team:

When looking at all couples surveyed who are planning their weddings, one of the major shifts in recent years has been the more thoughtfully crafted proposal. A majority of proposers (58%) said they felt pressure to plan a “highly unique proposal,” and roughly half (49%) planned their proposal one to three months in advance, compared to 31% in 2017. From renting special lighting and decor to create a romantic ambiance to hiring a photographer or videographer to capture the surprise, nearly one-fourth of couples hired vendors to help create their proposal— double the number in 2019. This recent shift reveals that vendors are vital throughout the entire wedding journey, even before couples book a wedding date.

The study also shows a shift in engagement ring style. Oval-shape stones are rising in popularity, accounting for 21% of rings (up 7% from 2017). Round stones continue to be the most popular shape (37%), though they are down 9% from 2019. Additionally, 2022 saw lab-grown diamonds rise in popularity to 36% (+18% since 2020). 

Couples surveyed hired an average of 14 vendors for their wedding day, which is similar to previous years despite external challenges like inflation. When selecting vendors, couples continue to value price as a top consideration along with reviews, as many seek wedding professionals who have proven experience and examples working with like-minded couples.

One of the first major decisions that couples make is selecting a venue. Nearly 6 in 10 couples surveyed (57%) selected a wedding location within 30 miles of where they currently live. To find a wide variety of reviews and photos, couples can visit The Knot Vendor Marketplace to easily search, read reviews and book venues in their local areas. 

Technology on the Rise in Wedding Planning: 

Today’s couples have increased the use of video chatting with vendors (52%, up 35% compared to 2019), and are doing most of their planning online (90%, up 2% from 2019) on sites and apps like The Knot. Consumers are also relying on social media to help with inspiration and advice on the planning process. With TikTok experiencing rapid growth (the hashtag #weddingplanningtiktok has more than 25 million views) and with the continued popularity of YouTube, it’s no surprise that online video content has played a greater role than ever before. 45% of couples surveyed watched video content for inspiration and guidance on topics ranging from planning within budget to ideas on how to make the guest experience special, like unexpected seating charts or unique signage

Navigating the Economy: 

The average wedding spend in 2022 among couples surveyed was $30,000 (ceremony/reception), up from $28,000 in 2021, though spending varied widely depending on guest count, location, time of year and the number of vendors hired. For example, weddings in Midwestern cities like Cincinnati and Kansas City, MO cost an average of $24,000, while costs in larger, metropolitan areas like Philadelphia and Washington, DC, are closer to $40,000.

With inflation climbing in 2022, nearly half of couples surveyed (49%) acknowledged that rising costs are a top concern as they plan their 2023 weddings. Roughly one in two newlyweds said the economy impacted their wedding cost/planning with greater impact among those with weddings late in the year (13% higher than in 2021, when 38% said the economy impacted their wedding). Additionally, couples’ top challenges during the planning process were planning within a budget (47%) and determining the guest list (36%). 

As couples assembled their vendor teams, 39% reported that the topic of inflation arose during conversations. To help tackle this challenge, couples whose weddings felt the economic impact most often increased their overall budget at least once (60%). They were also more selective about their “must haves,” deciding against upgrades/add-ons they had originally considered (54%). While the price of everything has increased due to inflation, the majority of couples getting married in 2023 are not making changes to their original budgets (70%). Among the few couples who are adjusting their budgets (30%), couples are more likely to increase rather than decrease their spending. 

Visit The Knot 2022 Real Weddings Study to read the full report.

Methodology:

The 2022 Real Weddings Study captured responses from 11,646 US couples married between January 1 and December 31, 2022; respondents were recruited via email invitation from The Knot and/or WeddingWire membership. Respondents represent couples from all over the country with various ethnicities, income levels, races, ages, sexual orientations and gender identities. To provide the most comprehensive view of 2022 trends, this report also includes findings from ad hoc studies conducted throughout the year. In a typical year, The Knot Worldwide conducts research with more than 300,000 couples, guests and wedding professionals globally.

About The Knot  

The Knot is an authority on wedding planning, offering everything couples need to take their celebration from inspiration to reality—from ideas, advice and the perfect local vendors to creating and managing all guest experiences, wedding registries, invitations and more. The most-trusted brand reaches a majority of engaged couples in the US through the #1 wedding planning website TheKnot.com and #1 iOS and Android mobile app with the most 5-star reviews The Knot Wedding Planner, The Knot national wedding magazine and The Knot book series. Since its inception, The Knot has inspired approximately 25 million couples to plan a wedding that’s uniquely them. Visit The Knot online at TheKnot.com and follow on social media: Facebook.com/TheKnot and @TheKnot on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

*Based on The Knot January 2023 Economic Pulse Study