US Couples Seek Parents’ Permission Prior to Marriage Proposal, But Majority of European Couples Skip This Tradition; Half of Italians Jointly Agree to Marry Without the Proposal Moment, According to First-Ever Global Wedding Report
9-in-10 Couples Live Together Before Marriage in Spain, France and the UK; Only 35% Cohabitate Prior to Nuptials in Mexico and Brazil
Global Wedding Report by The Knot, WeddingWire and Bodas.net Unveils Engagement, Planning and Celebration Behaviors of 20,000 Couples in 14 Countries
New York, NY—May 1, 2019—Despite cultural differences and varying societal norms, couples around the world agree on one thing—a wedding is the ultimate showcase of love. In honor of Global Love Day on May 1, 2019, The Knot, WeddingWire and Bodas.net, the leading international wedding planning brands, are releasing the first-ever Global Wedding Report, highlighting how couples worldwide celebrate love, proposals and weddings. The report unveils the personalized behaviors of 20,000 couples from 14 countries around the world—including the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile, the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and India—providing insights into the demographics of engaged couples and their wedding planning journeys.
“Our extensive research on couples across North America, Latin America, Europe and India found couples have more and more choices for when, where and how to celebrate their love and plan a personalized wedding,” says Lauren Goodson, Senior Director of Insights at The Knot Worldwide. “The Global Wedding Report highlights how couples worldwide are tapping local vendors to bring their unique wedding visions to life. From an Indian bride’s special Mehndi design, to a family ‘confetti dance’ tradition, or a venue with rich cultural history, we love seeing how couples are putting their personal stamp on their celebrations.”
Global Engagement Experiences
“Popping the question” takes on different meanings across the globe. While more than 80 percent of couples in the US, Mexico and Canada report having one partner ask the other for their hand in marriage, other countries report not taking part in the practice—couples in Italy were most likely (50%) to forgo having an official proposal moment, as many decide together to take the next step in their relationship and buy a ring. A proposal moment is also less common in India, Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Argentina, where less than 75% of couples report one person asked for the other’s hand in marriage.
For nearly all countries surveyed (13 out of 14), December reigned as the most popular engagement month. However, in India, couples most often report getting engaged in either February (20%) or January (13%), likely due to the preference of holding the engagement ceremony, as well as the wedding, on an auspicious or “good-luck” day.
Including parents in the proposal process is another aspect that differs around the world. As a kind gesture and sign of respect, the majority of US-based proposees consult their partner’s parents prior to proposing, whereas in European countries, most parents are looped in after the fact. In Mexico, approaching one’s parents for their blessing isn’t the only involvement family members have throughout a couple’s engagement; it’s also common for to-be-weds to honor close relatives, friends or family members by naming them a padrino, or sponsor, of their wedding. These individuals typically serve as mentors to the couple throughout their engagement, often contributing financially or participating in the ceremony in some way.
Characteristics of Couples Around the World
Couples worldwide aren’t in a rush to walk down the aisle; they’re continuing to marry later in life. The majority of countries surveyed have an average marrying age of 30 or older. Although to-be-weds may be holding off on saying “I do,” it’s not stopping them from moving in with one another. In fact, living together prior to marriage is common, as the majority of couples in France (93%), Spain (90%), the UK (88%), Portugal (80%), Argentina (79%), the US (78%), Canada (76%), Italy (74%), Chile (72%) and Colombia (52%) report doing so. Premarriage cohabitation, however, is less common in Mexico and Brazil, with only one in three (35%) couples reporting living together before their wedding day.
Nowadays, to-be-weds are also merging their various backgrounds, culture and traditions as more and more couples report marrying outside of their own race, ethnicity and religion. The US and India reign as the leaders in to-be-wed diversity; nearly one-third of couples in both countries report marrying someone of a difference race, ethnicity or religious upbringing. This is less likely in Western Europe, including Portugal (6%), Spain (4%) and Italy (4%).
Planning Particulars by Country
Planning a wedding that is a true reflection of a couple’s unique love story is no easy feat, and doing so takes couples varying amounts of time around the globe. Couples in Colombia report planning their wedding in just seven months—the shortest wedding planning timeline worldwide—followed by couples in India (8 months), Chile (8 months) and Peru (9 months). On the other hand, couples in the US and UK tend to have almost twice as much time for wedding planning, with engagements lasting 14 and 15 months on average, respectively.
Despite these differences, to-be-weds around the world are on the same page when it comes to hiring local professionals to bring their unique wedding visions to life. Couples in all countries hired more than eight wedding vendors, on average, with 80 percent of couples hiring a photographer to capture their special day, reigning as the most popular vendor category across 13 countries. France, however, tends to prioritize food over photography, with more than 3 in 4 couples hiring caterers for their weddings. Other popular vendor categories include venues, music, cake bakers and florists.
The Wedding — Global Trends & Traditions
Whether it’s a family-focused celebration in Northern India; a vibrant bash complete with neon dancing robots in Santiago, Chile; or a picturesque lakeside wedding in Verona, Italy; couples around the world are putting unique touches on their wedding celebrations as the ultimate showcase of their individual personalities and love stories. When determining wedding dates, weather is one of the most influential factors for couples in all countries, with couples often opting for weddings during the warmer seasons. September and October are the most popular wedding months for those in North America and Europe, while October, November and February reign as the most popular wedding months for countries in the southern hemisphere.
From honoring one’s heritage with a traditional Chinese ceremony, to late-night dancing with “La Hora Loca,” couples are incorporating unique cultural elements into their weddings respective to where they’re being held. Additionally, some traditions are widely embraced by most to-be-weds worldwide, like the first dance. A majority of couples in 11 out of 14 countries report having a first dance, though these dances may look vastly different. For example, a UK-based couple surprised their guests with a choreographed number, while Mexico-based newlyweds set off mini-fireworks for a first-dance grand finale.
Another tradition embraced worldwide is celebrating with a toast to the newlyweds or drinking wine, with 80% of weddings around the world serving alcohol as part of the celebration. An open bar is a frequent occurrence at weddings in Spain, while the majority of UK weddings have a champagne toast, but skip free-flowing beverages. Couples in India, however, are least likely to serve alcoholic beverages, with less than a quarter (22%) incorporating them into their wedding reception.
While couples are nodding to their cultural backgrounds throughout their celebrations, many continue to incorporate religion as well. Religion is often embraced by couples based in countries with a Catholic-majority population, with more than 68% of couples in Colombia, Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Portugal doing so. Popular religious wedding traditions include taking communion during the ceremony for Roman Catholics, marrying Jewish couples under a huppah, and signing the marriage contract in a traditional Muslim Nikhah ceremony. Although many couples may incorporate such traditions by putting their unique twists on them, other couples may forgo religious ties in their wedding altogether. The least likely to include religion in their weddings are UK-based to-be-weds; less than a third of couples in the UK weave religious elements into their weddings.
With predominantly millennial couples making up the to-be-wed population worldwide, it’s no surprise they’re relying on their smartphones and other technology throughout their planning and on their wedding days as well. In fact, 7 in 10 couples in the US rely on social media for wedding inspiration throughout their wedding planning journeys. As a result, modern trends like creating and sharing a personalized hashtag are gaining popularity, particularly among couples in the US (53%), Canada (45%) and India.
The celebrations continue after the wedding day, as many couples jet-set off on their honeymoon. Most couples opt to travel shortly after their wedding to unwind and celebrate the start of the next chapter in their lives (78%).
Budgets Across Borders and the Guest Experience
With varying wedding styles, elements and traditions come varying budgets. Costs of weddings around the world differ greatly depending on the region, with couples in Latin America spending the least (under $9,000). Couples based in Peru, Chile and Colombia typically pay for roughly 55% of the wedding costs, while couples in other regions tend to receive more financial support from family members—especially in Spain and Italy, where they cover roughly two-thirds of the wedding expenses.
The largest determining factor for wedding cost internationally is guest count. Although the number of wedding guests varies significantly from country to country, Chile-based couples have the smallest weddings with an average of 91 guests, while couples in India welcome, on average, 524 guests to their largest wedding event (Indian weddings typically span multiple days).
More than half of weddings in Brazil (57%) and Mexico (46%) also take place in one’s hometown and tend to have higher guest counts than other countries, ranging from 159-181 on average. Couples in Portugal are arguably the most responsible when handling wedding finances, with only 7% of couples taking out a loan or incurring credit card debt as a result of their wedding festivities. On the other hand, 47% of couples in Brazil and Peru report taking out loans or incurring debt as a result of their wedding costs.
The 2019 Global Wedding Report is primarily based on data collected from The Knot Worldwide (The Knot, WeddingWire and Bodas.net) annual newlywed survey, distributed to couples married in 2018. The survey was sent in December 2018 to couples with an email address on file, and a total of 19,993 responded. India data comes from a gen pop survey of 357 recently married college-educated couples. To provide the most comprehensive view, this report includes findings from ad hoc studies and examples from couples who have shared their real wedding experiences with the company.
About The Knot
The Knot is the nation’s leading multiplatform wedding resource offering a seamless, all-in-one planning experience—from finding inspiration and local vendors to creating and managing all guest experiences, wedding registries and more. The 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 The Knot Wedding Planner, The Knot national and local wedding magazines, 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.
WeddingWire, Inc. is a trusted global online marketplace, connecting consumers with local wedding professionals and a suite of comprehensive tools that make wedding planning easier. Operating within a $250 billion industry, WeddingWire helps 16 million users every month find the right team of wedding professionals to personalize and pull off their special day. Consumers around the world are able to read more than 5 million vendor reviews and search, compare and book from a directory of over 500,000 vendors local to them. Founded in 2007, the WeddingWire portfolio serves couples and wedding professionals across 15 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The company is headquartered in Washington, DC with international headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. Visit WeddingWire online at WeddingWire.com and follow on social media at Facebook.com/WeddingWire and @WeddingWire on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Bodas.net, part of The Knot WorldWide group, is a leading bridal portal designed to help the bride and groom organize the happiest day of their lives. With its international presence, the group has created the world’s largest bridal community and virtual wedding marketplace on the Internet. It has a comprehensive database of over 560,000 wedding professionals and offers couples tools to prepare their guest list, manage their budget, find their suppliers and more. The Knot WorldWide operates in 15 countries through different domains such as Bodas.net (Spain), WeddingWire.com (USA), TheKnot.com (USA), Matrimonio.com (Italy), Mariages.net (France), Casamentos.pt (Portugal), Bodas.com.mx (Mexico), Casamentos.com.br (Brazil), Matrimonio.com.co (Colombia), Matrimonios.cl (Chile), Casamientos.com.ar (Argentina), Matrimonio.com.pe (Peru), WeddingWire.co.uk (United Kingdom), Casamiento.com.uy (Uruguay), WeddingWire.ca (Canada) and WeddingWire.in (India).