These Are the Best Dating Apps for Marriage, According to Data
In 2020, dating apps are the most common way couples meet. But with so many matchmaking services, it can be hard to determine the best dating apps for marriage. While not everyone downloads an app with a wedding in mind, more users are turning to digital services to find a long-lasting relationship.
According to The Knot 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study, 26% of newlyweds met online (the most popular way to meet a spouse since 2019). Plus, recent insights indicate that marriages formed from dating apps may be less likely to end in divorce as members use the sites to date intentionally. In order to determine the top dating sites for marriage, we compiled data and spoke to real couples to find which services are most likely to lead to a successful partnership. Below, read their stories and find out the compelling results.
Despite its former reputation as being for casual relationships, our insights indicate that Tinder is the top dating site for marriage. According to The Knot 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study, Tinder was responsible for pairing 26% of newlyweds who met online, solidifying its spot as the most popular dating app.
With over 57 million worldwide users in 2020, the app facilitates millions of matches every day. As of December 2020, the app boasted 55 billion matches made since its launch in 2012. And in the brand's 2020 recap, "The Year in Swipe," internal data shows that members—especially Gen Z users—care more about finding a long-lasting connection. To do so, users customize their profiles to find matches that share similar political and social beliefs. Tinder's data indicates that shared interests in social and political topics are of significant importance to daters (think: the Black Lives Matter movement, wearing face masks amid the pandemic and voting in the 2020 election). By finding matches with common values from the start, users are more likely to establish a long-term connection.
Launched in 2014, Bumble was the first app to only allow females to make the first move in a heterosexual match. (For same-sex couples, both users have the opportunity to send the first message.) The brand has since become one of the most popular dating apps to date. In 2020, it recorded over 100 million registered users in over 150 countries. And according to studies done by The Knot, it's one of the best dating apps for marriage. In 2020, our data found that it was the second most-popular dating website, responsible for matching 22% of couples who met online. Thanks to features like personality badges and profile prompts, the app allows users to make informed swipes—but it's the emphasis on women making the first move that sets Bumble apart from other online dating services.
Two Bumble employees, Cecily Gold-Moore and Kate Urquiola, met their respective spouses long before joining the company. While their stories are different, the opportunity to make the first move was instrumental in finding a lasting connection. "I was definitely looking for a relationship," Kate tells The Knot of her decision to join the app. "Back when [my husband, Iker and I] matched in October 2015, Bumble was well-known as an app where most people were typically looking to make intentional connections—like a serious relationship. That's a strong reason why I was drawn to it."
She adds, "I wasn't on any other apps, which is kind of surprising given that it's so common for people to switch back-and-forth between a handful of apps nowadays! When we matched, there were really only two apps that my friends were using. While definitely oversimplified, one was known for hookups and the other one—Bumble—was known for those who were looking for something a bit more committed. I had been in longer-term relationships before I was on Bumble, so this was my first (and only) experience on a dating app."
While Kate found Iker's photos attractive, she might not have reached out if it weren't for the 24-hour time limit. "Candidly, if it wasn't my responsibility to make the first move, I most likely would've anxiously waited for Iker to talk to me first," she explains. "However, I've learned a lot about the impact of pushing myself out of my comfort zone since then. It's been a recurring theme throughout the progression of our relationship, from discussing the idea of moving in together, to openly talking about marriage, and more."
Ultimately, it took the couple six months to meet in person. But after their first date in April 2016, the relationship progressed naturally. They got engaged in September 2018, and by October 2019, they married in Mexico.
"When I first got on Bumble, I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship," Kate says. "It seemed insurmountable for me to go out and meet someone at a bar. With Bumble, I was in control and could meet people from the comfort of my own home on my own time." She adds that Bumble allowed her to learn more about her future husband's personality, which set their relationship up for success. "We were both intentional about showing our interests and hobbies throughout our profiles, so it was easy to start a conversation over something we had in common. I mentioned his cute mini schnauzer from one of his profile photos and we started talking about how Poofy was originally his grandfather's. We eventually started discussing our family and heritage—he's proudly Basque. It was easy to start talking in real life because he gave me clues to his personality through his Bumble profile."
For Cecily, dating as a single mom wasn't top of mind. But when she learned that Bumble would allow her to control the conversations, she was willing to give it a try. "I was familiar with other dating apps, but at the time I was content with being single for the rest of my life, so I wasn't actively on any," she tells us. "However, my friend positioned Bumble as a dating app that was cooler than other dating apps. He said that all of his friends were on it and that women had to make the first move and start the conversation, which really intrigued me… Having the power to make the first move was a really great way for me to dip my toe into the dating scene without making a huge commitment."
She matched with her now-husband, Brendan, in January 2016, and credits his photos for sparking her interest. "It seems basic, but a lot of the other profiles I saw only had one photo or a picture that didn't clearly show their face," she explains. "Brendan had good-quality photos and he was shown doing a variety of things. For example, he had a photo of himself surfing and then another one that looked professional. He also had several photos of himself and his Goldendoodle, which instantly attracted me to his profile! His bio was also short and sweet: 'My best friend is my GoldenDoodle named Riggins.' I found that one line adorable and was instantly hooked."
Ultimately, Cecily credits the "Extend" feature that allows users to add an additional 24 hours to the match before it expires for her connection with her future husband. "As a busy mom, my connections often expired before I could make the first move, but it always made a big impression when a match would use their daily extend to give me more time to say 'Hi,'" she says. "Brendan used his daily extension on me—without that, we may have never started talking." Two weeks later, the couple went on their first date. They got engaged in December 2018, and by October 2019 they were married.
"Bumble allows you to put yourself out there with confidence and allows you to get to know someone's intention before deciding to meet them in person," she says of why this service is one of the best dating apps for marriage. "Making the first move for women gives you the ability to invest your time in the connections that you feel comfortable with, which can lead to more intentional dates and relationships."
In 2020, our study found that Hinge was responsible for pairing 12% of newlyweds who met online—a 9% increase from 2019. The app, which is "designed to be deleted," relies on a unique algorithm that pulls user preferences to introduce profiles most likely to match. Since its relaunch in 2016, Hinge facilitated over 550 million matches and more than 22 million dates for members around the world.
Daters have the ability to like or comment on multiple profile prompts and photos, increasing the likelihood of a match. And, with additional features like a weekly "rose" for a standout profile, a daily "Most Compatible" match and limited likes, users are able to date intentionally. As a result, thoughtful swiping creates a stronger chance of finding a compatible partner for a long-term relationship. "We lose around 25% of potential users during the signup process because we require people to think deeply about who they are and what they want, but that's on purpose," says Logan Ury, Hinge's Director of Relationship Science. "We want our community to focus on their connection with someone instead of collecting matches, so our design helps initiate thoughtful conversations right from the beginning."
Plus, with the rise of virtual dating amid the coronavirus pandemic, Hinge allows users to plan in-app video dates to help them pursue their strongest connections. "Video dates are here to stay," Ury adds. "They're an easy yet valuable 'virtual vibe check' that allows Hinge users to see if they have chemistry with someone before meeting up in person. You can skip the long commute and expensive cocktails while getting a sense of your match's sense of humor, values and personality."
According to The Knot 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study, OkCupid was the fourth-most popular service to match future spouses, coming in just behind Hinge. The survey results indicate that the site, which launched in 2004, was responsible for setting up 7% of engaged couples who met online. The service's unique algorithm uses extensive questioning to complete user profiles, which helps facilitate deeper, more meaningful connections (in turn making it a marriage-minded app). The site claims to orchestrate 50,000 dates per week, while over 91 million connections are made every year.
For Laura Moffat and Kelly Sanders Moffat, the founders of the menswear-inspired fashion brand Kirrin Finch, a service that encouraged meaningful connections was of the utmost importance. "We were both committed to finding someone who wanted to be in a serious relationship, and OkCupid felt like the right choice for that path," Kelly tells The Knot. "Even though we met several years ago, OkCupid still feels like the right choice for folks who want to find someone who wants to get married and settle down."
After making a connection on the app, poor weather almost derailed the couple's first date. "There was a massive snowstorm and we both thought about cancelling," Kelly explains. "But we threw on some hiking boots, and trudged out to meet each other. The rest is history."
The couple's love story blossomed after their first date. Laura proposed to Kelly in Grand Cayman in 2012, and the moment featured a sentimental nod to their digital beginning. "For years, we couldn't remember if we met in 2011 or 2012, but luckily Laura saved our initial messages on OKCupid and when she asked me to marry her, she created this adorable book with pictures of our various adventures and it opened with the first messages we sent to each other." After being engaged for two years, the former Division I athletes got married in Vermont in 2014.
"It was only fitting that on the morning of the wedding, we divided the wedding attendees up and had a soccer match," says Kelly. "Later that afternoon, we cleaned ourselves up and gathered together under a tree in the field to have Lauren, our best friend, marry us. We wanted the ceremony to be a reflection of us as a couple, so we selected the parts of traditional ceremonies that we liked and adapted the parts that didn't work for us. For example, we had a ring bearer…but she was Kelly's 25-year-old sister."
"Laura grew up in Scotland, so it was only fitting that we walked down the aisle after saying our vows to Kelly's uncle playing the bagpipes, we had readings, but they were from Dr. Seuss, and we walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of Safe and Sound by Capital Cities," she adds.
Today, the entrepreneurs have OkCupid to thank for bringing them together—and they continue to recommend it as one of the best dating apps that lead to marriage. "At times, dating can be a lot of fun, but it can also feel really demoralizing and like a full time job," Kelly says. "[OkCupid] is the only brand out there that matches our values, and seems geared to people looking for a long-term relationship."