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It's no secret that weddings have been slowly undergoing a bit of a makeover these past few years. While some weddings still feature age-old traditions, outside factors like COVID, inflation, and social media have brides-to-be ditching traditional elements and implementing more non-traditional flair.
With this shift in the wedding industry and with Gen Z being next in line to say "I do," just what can we expect when attending a wedding today?
To find out, we surveyed 1,000 women in the United States who have been brides or are brides-to-be.
We asked about their plans and preferences regarding their wedding day, from traditional or non-traditional elements to their ideal wedding attire, venue, and rules for the big day. We also examined how Gen Z wedding preferences may differ and how younger generations are switching up the wedding play book.
Saturdays remain supreme for wedding days, while respondents preferred a fall wedding overall. 12.17% of respondents preferred an October wedding, and 11.43% chose September. 12.02% chose May for their wedding month, leaving the usually-popular June out of the top 3.
As for wedding location, over 1 in 4 brides and brides–to–be chose a religious site for their wedding location. But the following location shows a more non-traditional approach- getting married at the courthouse. This may be because brides are opting to save money as wedding costs increase.
In fact, 13.92% of brides or brides-to-be regret how much they spent on their wedding, saying they spent too much. Of that regret, 32.14% had a religious site as a venue, 71.43% had a Saturday wedding, and 16.43% were married in October. Nearly 1 in 5 regretting how much they spent had a wedding cost between $20,000 - $29,999.
Nearly 1 in 3 brides agreed that the traditional white or ivory wedding dress is best, but 15% preferred to break tradition by wearing a colorful wedding dress instead. This amount increases amongst Gen Z brides and brides-to-be, with over 1 in 5 Gen Z respondents wanting a colorful, non-white wedding dress over the traditional option. Additionally, nearly 1 in 10 respondents reported wearing or wanting to wear a black wedding dress.
Meredith Bartel, owner of Plus One Planning with over 320,000 followers on TikTok, notes this rising trend by saying, “I have seen interest in non-white wedding dresses! Black always seems to trend in the fall, but I've even seen a rise in pastels (baby blue, lilac, pale pink, champagne) for a slightly unexpected twist. Many dresses are even incorporating colorful floral appliques that really evoke a lot of personality!”
When it comes to bridesmaid dresses, blue was the most popular, followed by a more non-traditional route- letting the bridesmaids choose for themselves. Our Gen Z respondents were also least likely to care if wedding guest outfits match the wedding party, while millennials were most likely to say this is a wedding faux pas.
When asked which traditional elements brides and brides-to-be wanted to have at their weddings, the top answers were exchanging rings (88.87%) and the first kiss (81.18%). On the other hand, the top non-traditional elements were no seating chart (47.59%) and a more relaxed dress code (40.99%).
Overall, over 1 in 4 brides or brides-to-be reported not having a wedding party, with Gen Z being the most likely to nix the tradition. Gen Z brides and brides-to-be were also the least likely to want to receive gifts from a registry. Interestingly, brides who spent over $100,000 were most likely to ask for a honeymoon fund as a gift.
Overall, 45% of respondents felt weddings have too many rules in place for guests. When asked the top wedding rules they do expect guests to follow, the top answers were no big announcements (21.38%), no phones during the ceremony (20.20%), and no kids allowed (19.11%).
Gen Z respondents, however, were the most likely to say no rules at all (47.83%). In fact, they cared the least about several traditional wedding rules, such as guests wearing white or ivory, and they cared the least about guests using their cell phones.
Claire Roche, better known as the California Wedding Planner on TikTok, boasting over one million followers, provides a tasteful way to implement rules at a wedding:
"Include it on the wedding website, with a bit of an explanation. Giving guests a bit of an explanation helps them to understand the reasoning and motive, which can alleviate them feeling like they have rules to just have rules."
As for more in-depth wedding guest rules, we also inquired about preferred wedding guest outfits. Brides and brides-to-be agreed that bralettes, crop tops, and flip flops were the least acceptable wedding guest attire. They say the most appropriate wedding guest outfits are strapless dresses, skirts, midi dresses, and jumpsuits. Roche further explains a foolproof strategy when wedding guests may be unsure about the dress code:
"Default to cocktail attire! If it's spring or summer, a midi dress with some kitten heels, wedges, or high heels with some more casual accents. For a fall or winter wedding, a midi or full-length dress is great with some more polished details."
The California Wedding Planner shares some great final thoughts on the evolution of weddings and embracing non-traditional elements:
"I am such a fan and find that a lot of couples are too, of doing their own thing for their weddings. It can be common for people to think that everyone thinks the same way they do, but it's important to remember that when it comes to weddings, it is highly personal and doing what is best for the couple is what matters most. With dress code, rules and traditions the truth is no matter what you choose, people will have opinions and will likely want to share them with you. It's important to know you cannot please everyone and as long as you and your partner are aligned, that is what matters!"
Plus One Planning also chimed in regarding wedding planning and choosing which elements to include and which ones to ditch:
“I am always telling couples to have FUN with their wedding planning - feel free to break out of the mold and do something non-traditional if it feels right. Weddings are not one-size-fits all, and there really are ‘no rules’ in regards to wedding planning anymore. As long as the couple is happy, that’s all that matters!”
We surveyed 1,000 US women on their current, past, or future wedding plans. Questions were multiple choice, with the option to provide qualitative data where needed. Respondents were split by age/generation, wedding spend, and more to find key statistics about wedding trends in the US.
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