February 14, 2024

Wedding Guests Take Center Stage. The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study Reveals 75% of Couples Prioritize The Guest Experience when Planning their Weddings

Study of Nearly 10,000 Newlywed Couples Reveals The Emphasis on Creating Unforgettable Celebrations and the Importance of Hiring Wedding Professionals to Create their Wedding Visions

NEW YORK, NY, February 14, 2024 — What has an average of 115 guests, 14 hired vendors, one couple and one hell of a party? A wedding, no doubt. The Knot, a digital wedding planning authority and the largest Vendor Marketplace in the US, today releases The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study, a study of nearly 10,000 U.S. couples married in 2023. From celebrations inspired by pop culture to deliberately seeking out diverse wedding vendors, this year’s study shines a spotlight on the invaluable contributions of wedding professionals and the myriad of ways couples are creating their authentic celebrations. The report also includes 2024 trends from engaged couples planning their nuptials this year.   

“The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study provides a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of wedding celebrations. In this era, weddings are becoming more experiential than ever before, drawing inspiration from pop culture and infused with elements guaranteed to evoke joy for both couples and guests,” said Kirsten Francis, Director of Marketing Insights at The Knot. “From having a private last dance to asking guests to ‘unplug’ during the ceremony, couples are redefining traditions and creating a new wave of trends that will continue to evolve the way we celebrate weddings.” 

 2023 Weddings at a Glance:

  • Couples hired an average of 14 vendors for their wedding day, with the dress being the top category (92%), followed by venue (91%) and then photographer (89%). 
  • A quarter of proposers hired photographers and/or additional pros to create the ideal ambiance (lighting, decor, etc.) to pop the question, a number that has more than doubled since 2019. 
  • 45% of couples sought out at least one niche vendor, from small businesses to diverse-owned businesses such as women-owned, Black-owned or LGBTQ+-owned. 
  • 75% of couples deem the guest experience to be the most crucial part of the planning process—a figure that rose to 80% among couples who have over 100 guests.
  • Trends that are in: Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” as the most popular first dance song (dethroning the historic 6-year reign of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran), first looks (56%, up 8% from five years ago); save-the-date and invitation QR codes to capture RSVPs and/or view wedding websites (38%, up from 18% from 2022); and kid-free receptions (38%; up 8% from 2018).
  • Trends on the outs: Wedding party members divided by gender (59%, down 7% from 2018), matching wedding party attire (down 20% from 2018), ceremonies held in traditional religious institutions (17%, down 5% from 2018) and wedding hashtags (23%, a 30% drop from 2018).
  • Guest count was an average of 115 guests, flat compared to 117 in 2022. 
  • Average wedding cost was $35,000 (ceremony and reception), up from $30,000 in 2022. 

A Look Toward 2024*:

  • The most popular day to get married this year is September 21, 2024, followed by September 14, marking the second consecutive year that the most popular date falls in September.
  • October is again expected to be the most popular month to get married followed by September,  on par with last year. 
  • 25% of couples said that they were inspired or influenced by specific cultural moments or popular trends. Taylor Swift, Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, and the dance scene from the Barbie movie were top sources of inspiration.
  • While common wedding colors like white, gold, and champagne are always top hits, standout colors like green (in light and dark shades) are expected to be used by 61% of couples in their 2024 weddings, followed by blue (47% of couples). 
  • 95% of couples stated that weddings should feel authentic and highly personalized to reflect their commitment.
  • 79% of engaged couples planning a 2024 wedding say their wedding is worth the financial investment.
  • Currently engaged couples are most looking forward to seeing their friends and family (70%), witnessing their wedding vision come to life (60%), experiencing the ceremony and vows (57%), and reveling in the music and dancing (56%) on their wedding day.

The Unsung Heroes of the Industry: Wedding Professionals

As weddings evolve, the need for wedding professionals remains. As couples are faced with challenges like budgeting and guest lists, wedding pros offer support to those who find wedding planning both exhilarating and overwhelming. With an average engagement length of 15 months and 12% engaged for two years or more, couples surveyed spent seven hours weekly planning, mostly online (91%). For couples, finding vendors to highlight their relationship through the wedding details is important, with 63% saying that personalization was one of the most important factors during the planning process. Additionally, couples relied on wedding planners more than ever in 2023 (up 7% year over year) citing particular support in maintaining and working within budgets. With the majority of couples using wedding planning websites/apps to help with the process, many turn to The Knot Vendor Marketplace to find, compare, connect and manage wedding professionals all in one place. Within its 200,000+ local wedding vendors from across the country, couples can browse real wedding images for inspiration and read reviews from over 3 million couples.

“The year 2023 marked the beginning of an era of transformation in the wedding industry,” said Tim Chi, Chief Executive Officer at The Knot Worldwide. “The pandemic caused people to reassess their values and priorities. After time spent apart, we saw many couples doubling down on the guest experience and finding new ways to incorporate what’s most authentic to them. This inclination was most pronounced among Gen Zers, the oldest of whom reached the typical marrying age in 2023 and started to shake up the industry—reimagining traditions while advocating for inclusivity. Across all generations and geographies, couples relied on vendors like never before to bring their visions to life. These positive tailwinds demonstrate that the industry is poised for growth and we continue to see positive signals that we’re on a path towards the golden age of marriage.”

From Espresso Martinis to Bagpipes, Couples Set Out to Charm Their Guests

Couples also incorporated elements that not only delight their guests but showcase their personalities. This includes having a signature cocktail (45%) — espresso martinis stand out as a top choice — and local food (24%). Among those who had additional guest entertainment, photo booths (61%) and games (20%) are top selections. As for the ceremony, couples incorporated unique musical choices (44%), such as rock music and bagpipes. The dance floor remained a focal point, with 92% of couples performing a first dance, 79% opting for dances with their parents and 26% having a private last dance to savor the final moments of their day together. 

Gen-Zers Recite Personal Love Letters and Make a Grand Entrance

At 26, Gen-Zers have officially entered the peak marrying age, offering a glimpse into their approach to wedding planning. According to The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study, Gen-Zers opted for grand entrances/exits (62%; up 14 points vs. Millennials), wrote personal letters to each other that were read on their wedding day (42%; up 6 points vs. Millennials), and used online chats (chatbots) to communicate with vendors and/or help plan their weddings (36%; up 7 points vs. Millennials). 

Visit The Knot 2023 Real Weddings Study to read the full report.


The Real Weddings Study captured responses from 9,318 US couples married between January 1 and December 31, 2023; 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, race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. To provide the most comprehensive view of 2023 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 a leading wedding Vendor Marketplace that connects couples with more than 200,000 local wedding professionals and offers a comprehensive suite of planning tools that includes personalized wedding websites, invitations and registry services that make planning easier to help couples enjoy the experience. The most trusted authority on wedding planning, The Knot reaches a majority of engaged couples in the US through TheKnot.com; a leading wedding planning app with the most 5-star reviews on iOS and Android, 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 authentic to them. Visit The Knot online at TheKnot.com and follow on social media: @TheKnot on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest and Threads and Facebook.com/TheKnot.

*Based on The Knot January 2024 Economic Pulse Study, N=650


Jennifer Myers 

Associate Director, Public Relations