February 13, 2020

New Decade Ushers in New Era of Couples Planning Their Weddings: The “Purpose-Driven Planners” 

The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study Reveals Today’s Engaged Couples Are Fusing Cultures and Focusing on Purpose, Inclusivity and Individuality

New York, NYFebruary 13, 2020Today, The Knot, a leading wedding planning and registry resource, unveils how weddings have evolved to focus on intentional personalization, as to-be-weds use their celebrations to make a positive impact while showcasing their cultures, values and unique lifestyles. The Knot 13th annual Real Weddings Study uncovers how more than 25,000 couples across the nation are planning with purpose—now for an average of 15 months (up from 14 months in 2018)—personalizing and celebrating their weddings. 

Today’s engaged couples are focused more than ever before on inclusivity, sustainability, community and purpose-driven details. Whether incorporating eco-friendly decor (14%); supporting their community by sourcing local products (25%); hiring a female vendor team in support of women in business; or creating charity registries, couples are pushing personalization to new heights by incorporating their values and allowing their weddings to serve as their own force of activism. Additionally, unique details that reflect each couple are front and center more than ever before. From featuring cultural and religious wedding elements (38%) and writing their own vows (44%), to centering celebrations around a beloved theme (28%, up from 14% in 2018) or hiring additional guest entertainment (47%, up from 38% in 2018) that highlights their shared interests, to-be-weds are ensuring every wedding detail holds meaning and significance. 

“Engaged couples today are highly focused on ensuring every element of their wedding is not only representative of who they are, but also their values and beliefs. Many are even taking their celebration a step further and using it as a form of activism,” said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief of The Knot. “In other words, they’re looking for ways that their wedding can make a positive impact on the world, whether that’s supporting a local industry, minimizing their carbon footprint or hiring a like-minded vendor team who upholds similar values as they do.”

The Knot 2019 Weddings Snapshot:

Marrying Cultures, Families, Traditions and More — As the most diverse generation of couples yet (51% of to-be-weds marry someone of a different background), weddings are fusing a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. Couples are also making long-standing traditions their own. Unity ceremonies are being revamped with statements like tree planting or both partners breaking a glass, and processionals are becoming more personalized and unique, like riding into the ceremony via go-kart. Some couples are even hosting multiple wedding ceremonies (4%) to either accommodate guests in various locations or for religious purposes. Their incorporation of culture continues through to the catering, with 14% of couples serving dishes from their heritage. And nowadays, it’s not just their backgrounds that are blending. As couples are marrying at all ages—the average age being 32 years old—some to-be-weds are merging already established families, with one or both partners’ children coming together at their weddings to celebrate love at all ages and stages of life. 

Keeping Sustainability Top of Mind — Today’s to-be-weds are going green, and their weddings are no exception. One in 4 couples source local products, like locally made favors for guests, while nearly a quarter of couples (22%) repurpose wedding day details following their festivities in an effort to eliminate waste. Some couples even strive to host waste-free weddings by working with local companies that recycle or repurpose all wedding materials after the festivities come to a close. Additionally, 14% of couples prioritize eco-friendly décor elements—think seating charts displayed via chalkboard, foam-free floral arrangements and bamboo place settings—along with relying on wedding websites and digital RSVPs.

To-Be-Weds Stand Up for Who & What They Love Couples are pushing personalization to new levels, striving to make a statement surrounding who they are and what they stand for. Some examples include making intentional vendor choices, like choosing a venue with meaning (think, an art gallery that supports female artists or town hall that has made strides for the LGBTQ+ community) or making a statement about marriage equality by walking down the aisle together. Additionally, some couples use their weddings to give back to their communities or causes close to their hearts by creating a charity registry (3%); donating their décor (22%) to local hospitals post wedding; making charitable donations in lieu of favors for guests; or even encouraging guests to pay it forward with a call to action on their wedding website

Gender-Bending “The Rules”: Wedding Parties & Beyond — The one rule with wedding parties nowadays? There are none! No longer are to-be-weds feeling confined by long-standing gender roles that don’t apply to them, whether with their wedding party or other elements of their celebrations. Now, nearly 4 in 10 couples (37%) embrace coed wedding parties to ensure all their loved ones, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or sexuality, are standing by their side however they see fit. Yes, grandma can be a flower girl, grooms can carry a bouquet and your first dance can include your mom, because there’s no right or wrong way to incorporate family and friends into your wedding. 

Cash Please? Couples Register for EVERYTHING, Money Included — From stand mixers and entertaining essentials to new fitness equipment and honeymoon cash funds, couples on The Knot Registry are using their wedding registries to prepare and plan for all their newlywed needs. Retail registries continue to be the go-to for most couples (80%), but now the sky’s the limit when it comes to the products they can register for. On average, couples include 104 items on their retail registries for an average total value of $5,193. And couples are tossing the stigma associated with asking for cash, as cash registries (30%, up from 20% in 2018) continue to rise in popularity: Guests can contribute to the couple’s visit to an alpaca farm; help upgrade them to first-class seats for their honeymoon; finance a wine-of-the-month club; or assist in paying off medical expenses.

Fluidity in Fashion With Personal Flare — As with each wedding detail, couples are using their wedding day look—or looks (22% of couples change into another outfit)—to highlight their unique style and personality, oftentimes incorporating special meanings into their wedding fashion. For some (9%), that can include items of cultural or religious significance like a Hawaiian lei or Chinese qipao, while others may wear a color that represents a loved one or choose to don custom attire (36%) that’s uniquely their own. Additionally, more than a third of couples incorporate fashion details that are passed down or borrowed from their family or friends (38%). No longer are to-be-weds confined to gowns and tuxedos. Instead they’re putting their own spin on their looks and embracing gender-fluid styles, including bridal pantsuits, dresses for male to-be-weds (3%), bold patterns and pops of color (for nearly 1 in 5 female and 2 out of 3 male to-be-weds). 

A Meaningful Wedding Experience for All — Seven in 10 couples say the guest experience was their top priority when planning their weddings. As couples opt for more intimate celebrations with an average of 131 guests, down from 141 in 2010, they’re creating meaningful experiences that give their guests a glimpse into their lives together. For some that means highlighting their interests, embracing familial traditions, or showcasing where they fell in love. Plus, nearly half (47%, up from 38% in 2018) of couples are hiring additional entertainment—like musical performances (25%), bonfires and fireworks (17%), and wine or liquor tastings (6%)—and often incorporating interactive food stations (17%) like oyster shucking or late-night food trucks to create experiences they’ll remember for years to come. 

Couples Are Increasingly Cost-Conscious — Cost continues to remain a top consideration for couples as they’re planning their nuptials. For the majority of couples (69%), budget is the second most important element when wedding planning, behind guest experience. The average wedding cost in 2019 was $33,900 (inclusive of the engagement ring, ceremony and reception), on par with the average cost of a wedding in 2018. Additionally, to-be-weds are increasingly intentional with where their money is spent. Since couples are taking responsibility for wedding finances (on average, couples cover nearly half of wedding costs), they’re prioritizing and allocating budget to wedding details they find to be the most important. For example, a foodie couple may prioritize unique experiential catering options, while a music-obsessed couple may splurge on a well-known DJ or standout band. An important note: Wedding costs fluctuate significantly based on a variety of factors, including wedding location, date and time. 

Top 10 Most Expensive States to Get Married


Ceremony & Reception Cost

Engagement Ring Cost

Total Average Wedding Cost

New Jersey




Rhode Island




New York












District of Columbia




















Top 10 Least Expensive States to Get Married


Ceremony & Reception Cost

Engagement Ring Cost

Total Average Wedding Cost





Wyoming / Montana





































The Knot 2019 Real Weddings captured responses from more than 25,000 U.S. couples married between January 1 and December 31, 2019; respondents were recruited via email invitation from The Knot Worldwide. Survey respondents represent a variety of ethnic, education, and income levels, and are geographically dispersed.

About The Knot
The Knot is one of the nation’s leading multiplatform wedding resources 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 Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest