What Weddings in the US Look Like Today, Based on Our Data

This year's numbers showcase an emphasis on hospitality.
Couples on their wedding day in the us
Design: Tiana Crispino,Lauren Mihae Photography, Cloud Craft Studios, Josh & Dana Fernandez, Colette's Catering & Events Photographed by The Justin Jay, Stetten Wilson, Michelle Angeli Photography, Ashley Goodwin Photograph
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
by
Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Deputy Editor
  • Esther is the Deputy Editor of The Knot. She currently leads all content on The Knot Wellness, focusing on financial, relationship, and mental wellbeing.
  • She oversees The Knot's travel vertical (honeymoons, destination weddings, bach parties), as well as overarching features and trends.
  • She proudly serves on the Advisory Council of VOW For Girls, focusing on ending the injustice of child marriage around the world.
Updated Feb 13, 2024

Wedding planning isn't a one-size-fits-all experience. Every couple–just like their unique style of wedding–prioritizes what's most important to their relationship and love story. Each year, however, we find similarities and themes with how couples across the US plan; occasionally, we'll come across surprises. With every new crop of to-be-weds who arrive on the scene, year after year, we find that trends shift too. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study 2023, the most interesting theme is rather heartfelt and the common denominator among the nearly 10,000 couples we surveyed this year is that the spend per guest continues to go up.

While this number is, of course, influenced by factors such as the economy (inflation, particularly, and the rising cost of services and goods), wedding guest list size, and more, the data points to something more: an emphasis on hospitality. The past few years have taught us that time spent with our loved ones is precious and that we should cherish our connections; more than that, love. Here are some of the most surprising points we're seeing about wedding planning from 2023 couples.

It's *All* About the Guest Experience

Lucky you if you have weddings to attend this year. The average cost per guest jumped from $256 in 2022 to $304 in 2023, signaling a nearly $50 increase per headcount. More than ever, couples are emphasizing the importance of hospitality at their weddings. It is, after all, a chance to thank your biggest supporters. (Think: a robust weekend itinerary for an Italy destination wedding; champagne and caviar flights as an amuse-bouche; surprise performances by top artists; and even meals by Michelin-starred chefs. It can be as simple as a homemade take-home favor too. We love a creative wedding trend.)

Hospitality is the heart of wedding planning. Coupled with aesthetics and social media, personalization is hotter than ever. We have niche marketplace vendors who can bring your every wish to life. Imagine lip readings from a specialist, a loose-leaf tea bar, and take-home bagels to help with recovery the next morning.

It's Not You: Inflation Is Influencing Weddings

Seven in 10 couples are planning to keep an eye on the current economic climate. In 2023, the average cost of a wedding was $35,000, and that number is up from $30,000 a year prior. In our everyday lives, the cost of goods and services has gone up with inflation. But before you decide to strike in front of the Federal Reserve, there's something to keep in mind: that your wedding is also an investment.

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Your memories from the wedding day are the tangible takeaway–ones you and your partner will cherish for decades to come. Some physical relics from the nuptials include wedding portraits, video clips of the first dance, guest book entries, and more. It's ultimately the feeling and the sentiment you'll remember from the day that only you and your partner can share. (By the way, 79% of respondents said the wedding cost was hashtag, worth it.)

Couples Are Vibing With Their Vendors

jennifer lopez and matthew mcconaughey in the wedding planner movie
Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Pop culture made it clear ever since Mary Fiore entered the picture in The Wedding Planner with that coveted headset: the best wedding vendors deserve a medal. In line with previous years, we found that couples are hiring an average of 14 vendors. What's fascinating, though, is the camaraderie and trust that's built between couples and vendors while planning.

Nearly 7 in 10 of all couples (67%) said their vendors calmed their nerves. We get it: they're the ones orchestrating the day-of schedules, creating beautiful floral compositions, and creating clever introductions for your in-laws. Given the emphasis on personalization, there's even more of a focus on booking the best vendors for a distinct reception style or one pro to pull it off seamlessly. (Psst: we've seen a 7% increase in couples hiring planners since last year.)

If you've found your Fiore or Franck from Father of the Bride, leave a review. Not only does that feedback encourage vendors for the work they do, but the next couple can also source helpful takeaways as they explore and hire their dream wedding professionals. About 58% of all vendors said they prefer you include a review once the DJ plays that final song.

Prior to the Proposal, They're Discussing Hot Topics

Couples are, ahem, engaging, in conversation before the proposal. According to our data, four out of five Gen Z couples and three out of four Millennial couples dated for over two years before the engagement. During that time, respondents said they touched on a range of topics, including some of the more serious conversations including future finances (9 out of 10 couples) and mental health (87% of Gen Z; 86% of Millennials). As 2024 is an election year, politics will be top of mind for many couples this year too. In 2023, about three out of every four couples touched on their political affiliations before the engagement (78% of Gen Z; 77% of millennials).

What's more: weddings were a discussion point for nearly one out of every two couples before they even embarked on the planning process. Both Gen Z and millennials said they discussed aspects of their future wedding–cultural traditions, style of the event, and even vendors–before popping the question. If you want to dive into even more relationship-strengthening questions, some wedding officiants offer premarital counseling services that are highly recommended.

By the Way, the Pro-posal Is Here

Mark our words: 2024 is the year of the pro-posal. More couples are enlisting professionals beyond the wedding day. In fact, a quarter of all couples are now turning to the actual wedding professionals to orchestrate or document the proposal. (A dramatic 13% jump since 2019.) While social media has certainly fueled the numbers, event professionals are well versed in pulling together surprises… why not hire them for help when it comes to the all-important engagement?

Some examples of vendors hired for proposals include professional photographers (have you heard of the pro-tographer?) to capture the imagery. Another vendor option for engagement bookings is the proposal planner. Some hotels may offer an on-site coordinator or package, but an actual proposal planner could be a resource for larger-scale, logistics-heavy surprises.

You Must Have a Wedding Website in 2024

Having a wedding website is one of the best defenses to planning a wedding. Here's why. On days when I have too much on my to-do list, my Slack alerts are muted. While I still have to eventually be reactive in answering questions, you technically can capture most questions or thoughts well in advance via your wedding website. Also, our research shows that an informative wedding website is a wedding detail that guests care about the most. (Again, hospitality!)

We get it. You're busy planning a wedding and the last thing you need is to be peppered redundantly by Uncle Bob and your neighbor about the dress code. Consider the wedding website to be an all-in-one portal for your nuptials. This magical digital destination contains everything from your meet-cute, wedding weekend programming, hotel logistics, registry information, and more. One of the biggest trends we've recently seen is the inclusion of the almighty FAQ page, where commonly asked questions are addressed in one place. Ultimately, your wedding website is the first touchpoint for guests to preview all the excitement to come… including your decadent wedding cake.

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