The answer to this question is, well, yes and no.** But first, let’s start with the pros of planning a wedding in the twenty first century.
What used to be spreadsheets, paper checklists, and over-priced ‘full service’ wedding planning agencies are now all-encompassing, integrated platforms such as WeddingWire and Zola. Each site, launched in 2006 and 2013 respectively, offers brides and grooms the opportunities to plan every aspect of his or her wedding online, from creating a personal website and managing a guest list to ordering physical invitations and flower arrangements.
Zola, having proved itself to be worth $140 million in VC funding over the past six years, has recently emerged as a strong new leader in the $72 billion wedding industry. The company has even grown to establish a brick-and-mortar store in New York City this past year, following the familiar ‘clicks to bricks’ trend many analysts have observed in recent years. Here, couples can test out gifts to put on their registries, 3D print custom cake toppers, and even calm their nerves in a tranquil CBD lounge. This new hot spot for marriage hopefuls has been accurately dubbed “the Apple Store of weddings” by FastCompany.com.
Nowadays, finding inspiration for weddings has become equally as simplified. Of course we all know that Pinterest is a huge factor in ideation, as well as platforms such a Instagram and Tumblr, and media outlets like Brides.com and The Knot. Crowdsourcing and setting aside ideas has essentially become effortless. This often leads to the ability for couples to pinpoint creative methods of cutting costs, and even the improved capability to research, design, and execute a destination wedding without ever even needing to step foot on location before the big day.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the world of wedding planning these days.
Competition, competition, competition. Because it is so easy to find inspiration for a wedding on the internet, the pressure to make the day perfect is insurmountable. Constant, unrealistic wedding expectations are almost forcefully imposed on millennials to look up to, often times whether they are actually even getting married or not. As one might expect, this can be very negative, even detrimental for any and all of those even remotely involved in the planning process.
And it’s not just the size of the cake or the color coordination of the flower arrangements that brides and grooms need to worry about. Let’s not forget about the infamous wedding hashtags and Snapchat geofilters. In the present social media climate, these are almost absolute necessities, which only contribute to the pressure experienced by wedding planners in that they now know the amounts of photos posted by guests at the event will be exponential. So, if every little detail isn’t perfect, people will know.
Given all the new circumstances of wedding planning brought on by social media and digitization, the average price of a wedding has also increased steadily over the years. Today, the national average cost is said to be approximately $33,931 (which excludes the honeymoon). This obviously varies state by state, but a study conducted by The Knot attributes this inflation toward the hyper-personalization of affairs, in addition to couples going above and beyond in order to make sure all of their guests have an exceptional time on their big day. Consequently, the average spend per guest has increased from just $194 in 2009, to $268 this past year.
As for the future of the wedding planning industry, predictions are varied. On one hand, many argue that the traditional couple who thinks that hiring an in-person professional is the only path to perfection will never cease to exist. Further, the concept of an ‘unplugged’ wedding has begun to emerge as a way for couples to combat the pressure and distraction of social media on their actual wedding days, allowing the minds of their guests to be more present.
On the other hand, many believe that the role of a traditional wedding planner is slowly becoming obsolete. Shan-Lyn Ma, the founder of Zola, told TechCrunch that “this generation of couples is getting married at an older age than before — they’re professionals and they have busy lives, so they want tools and services that are easy to use on mobile and online.” Even engagement ring shopping has begun to move online, as sites like Ritani allow individuals to virtually build engagement rings specific to style and price point.
Overall, the future of the industry is wildly uncertain. It would be difficult to conclude that ‘WedTech’ is just a fad, but there is no guessing what wedding planning trends will take place in the future. One thing I can say for sure though, is that the involvement of digital business has drastically transformed both the idea and costs of achieving an ideal wedding. Whether the process has actually gotten easier… well, that is for you to decide.
**Disclaimer: I am 21 years old and have neither tried to plan nor assisted in planning a wedding in my sweet, young and innocent life. HOWEVER, I did spend my summer at Wayfair, where an office wedding shower is held every other week, so I’d like to think I have a practical understanding of the subject matter.