In other posts I’ve written I’ve had a lot of fun with wedding predictions, just last week my 2017 wedding trends post went live on Yahoo7 Be, but this post is pure numbers. Numbers can mean everything/or nothing, so here’s my explanation of the nothing that is three years of Surveys from Australia’s Easy Weddings annual survey and America’s Global Wedding Insights survey. The 2016 surveys were delivered in recent weeks, plus I trawled through my archives to find 2015 and 2014, so let’s go.

Two disclaimers: both of these surveys call themselves bride surveys. I really f’n hate that. But considering no-one with a balanced wedding business is doing the surveys, we’ll roll with it. Secondly, these are just a few numbers, they’re not the gospel. Do what you want, when you want, how you want it, you’re a big kid now.

Age: In Australia the average age of a girl getting married has been hovering at 29 for a while but she was 28 in 2016. Even the average bloke getting married is getting younger, from 32 to 29.

Religion: Internationally 25% of respondents want a ‘religious feeling’ wedding. In Australia the Bureau of Stats says that 74.9% of the 113,595 legal ceremonies in 2015 were lead by civil celebrants, but Easy Weddings agrees saying the trend is increasing from 71.2% in 2013, 71.9% in 2014, and 74% in 2016. The Knot reports that more than 40% of annual 2.1 million American weddings are happening outside of the church, and the trend is even turning in the UK where only years ago 30% of weddings were of a civil nature, but n ow more than 70% of weddings are outside of the realms of a religious authority.

Side note on religious wedding ceremonies: Every time I post something like this all of my old church friends message me in outrage. The fact is, if mentioning God in your marriage ceremony, or holding the event in a church, is a last ditch attempt to salvage your faith, God, and your marriage deserves more. Even more so, in Mark chapter 12 Jesus himself says your marriage is a commitment for earth, not heaven. It may well be nice to have a religious authority oversee your ceremony, the truth is that most of them are great pastors but terrible celebrants. 

Cost: For a solid three years internationally 80% of weddings had a significant contribution financially by the couple. Australian weddings are significantly reducing in budget and expense. In 2016 the average wedding budget dropped $8,000 AUD, to $20,000, and the average actual cost has dropped $6,000 to $30,000. This is despite more than 50% of weddings coming in at double the budget. The factors in this reduction in cost is the move away from Saturday weddings, with 38% of weddings being held on any day but Saturday, 27% on a weekday, and 56% of weddings occurring outside the peak months of March/April and September/October. The Easy Weddings survey sees guests numbers on the fall, which greatly impacts on cost-per-head expenses, but in my person experience the guest decline is greater than the survey reveals.

Getting engaged: 9% of couples getting married made the decision, aka the question was popped, in between Christmas and New Year (why do you think I’m writing this post on New Years Day instead of basking on a beach?). But last year in 2016 the fifth most popular day to get engaged was the 29th of February. We’ll be waiting another 4 years for that one. Interesting point: 65% of engagement rings that cost an average of $5,300 were chosen without the partner’s input. I wouldn’t imagine spending $5,300 without chatting to Britt, even before we were married, for something to sit on her finger every day. An interesting note is that the “length of engagement” is stretching out from 20 in 2014, 21 in 2015 to 23 months in 2016. I’ve no doubt this correlates with the cost of the wedding sitting on a couples shoulders, after all, if we could afford it we’d marry in one month, right?

Photography: 91% of couples hired a professional photographer, of the remainder 8% asked “Uncle Bob” and 1% just want you to blink your eyes and remember the moment in your heart. One in three couples thinks it’s important to hire a photographer you can be friends with, I’d argue that this is more important than the average wedding photographer budget of $2800. Reason being that the sexiest person alive who is not comfortable with their photographer looks terrible in photos, and the ugliest person on the planet (my hand raised) who feels at ease with the person holding the camera, looks sexy AF. In my mind, knowing the market, you’re hiring a good photographer if you’re spending more than $3000-4000 on them. Taking into account the work that goes into a full day shoot, before, after, during, that’s the price you ought to spend so you’ll love your photos.

Dress: We’re, well, you’re spending more on wedding dresses, with the average spend being up $500 to $2,475, from $1,788 in 2013. This probably has a lot to do with 35% of you watching Say Yes To The Dress on Netflix :). 67% of wedding dress wearers are also coupling their gown with a veil because why not, and 8% have got mum on the needle. The sad takeaway from the last three years of surveys is that bridal gown store staff haven’t got any friendlier with staff annually being rated the rudest. You’ve got to take whatever medals you can grab I guess.

Ceremony: I thought this statistic was sad, so I buried it deep in the blog post: only 39% of couples believe the ceremony is the most important part of the wedding. If you’re one of the 39%, you’re my people, get onto that contact form. And for my celebrant friends reading this, the two biggest complaints about celebrants haven’t changed in the eight years I’ve been a celebrant, and I’m not making these mistakes so you’ve got to up your game: Getting the couple’s names wrong or pronouncing them incorrectly, and not using a PA system or microphone during the ceremony, are the two things every year that celebrants get wrong. It’s not that hard is it???? (If you’re wondering which PA system to buy and for couples, the PA system I use)

Video: 37% of couples hired a videographer to shoot their wedding whilst 8% had a friend or family member shoot it. 55% said they had no wedding videography. I bet if you could speak to that 55% they would wish they had. That’s why I’ve bought a Mevo camera and I’m offering a simple recording of the ceremony recorded or live streamed to Facebook Live. Also to the videographers, your biggest complaint is real: Slow turnaround with no communication as to why. Get on the email for the love of Christ!

Entertainment: 92% of couples said they would hire a band or a DJ for their wedding reception while 8% of couples said they would not be hiring any music-related service for their wedding. 67% of couples have listed “taking care of your guests” and “being a good host” as a high priority, and most others think it’s pretty important. If I could extend any thoughts on this it would be to extend your DJ or band to the ceremony so the whole day sounds great, not just the afterparty.

Photo booths: 30% of couples hired a photo booth, if your friends and family are fun people, don’t be afraid to increase this stat, I love a good booth.

Bomboniere: Less than 50% of wedding guests leave with a bomboniere gift that cost the couple $435 in total. Don’t be afraid to get that $435 and invest it into a sweet new couch because every reception I MC I see the bomboniere table full of unwanted or uncollected gifts.

Destination weddings: Despite 99% of wedding photographers listing “Destination wedding photographer” on the front page of their website or in their Instagram hashtags, 8% of weddings happen in an Australian state that the couple do not call home, and 3% of weddings happen overseas. The most popular destinations list isn’t hard to image, but officially speaking it’s: New Zealand followed by Bali, Hawaii, Fiji and then the United Kingdom. Jetstar specials obviously influence the top four, but why is everyone going to miserable England?

Themes: I don’t know what any of this means but apparently rustic weddings are the most popular. Followed by grandma’s favourite traditional wedding. Before you scrap all those Pinterest boards, don’t worry, vintage weddings are still “in” along with boho chic. What the F is boho chic?

Location: Sydney remains Australia’s hottest place to get married, in “coolness” opposed to temperature, with Byron Bay not far behind. This leads to the New South Wales Births, Deaths, and Marriages registrar being the busiest registering 34% of the marriages in Australia. The Noosa through to Byron Bay strip, including Montville, Maleny, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Tamborine and Springbrook, Tweed Coast, Casuarina, down to Wategos remains the busiest strip with a drunk chef at a Christmas Party last year telling me that 30% of weddings happen in that strip. It sounds made up, but he looked really convincing.

Wedding gifts: 88% of couples believe that their MySpace Top 8 should bring gifts worth about $250, but if you’re not a close enough friend to make the Top 8, but you’re close enough that it would have been awkward if you weren’t invited, then they say $100. Keep in mind that the average cost per head to have you at their wedding was $135 so maybe you could ruffle through your centre console and gift them $135 in 20 cent coins.

And finally,

How do you want it to feel: A whopping 63% of people that took the time to fill out a survey on weddings which already says a lot about them, want a “feminine” feeling wedding. Which is super weird unless both the people getting married are females. Actually, this is probably one of those hang overs from the olden days when men were men and women were nothing but for one day of their life the all powerful men would let them have one day to feel like a princess. Those days are gone, they’re over. You can be a princess any day, so why not let the marriage day celebration thing be a party that celebrates the two people being married instead of this feminine thing we keep on pushing.

Well, that got ranty at the end, soz!

Photo credit: the feature image for this post is of myself at a good friend of mine’s elopement in Perth, Dilhari from Kiss Me You Fool – she’s a Perth Celebrant – and this photo is by Perth’s best wedding photographer, Jimmy from Izo!