This blog post was updated on April 20, 2020.
Millennials have never been good at following rules. The 18-34 age group is mixing things up at the workplace, deciding not to buy homes, and yes – slower to get to the altar. In 40 years, the average marriage age has jumped from 20 to 27 for women, and from 22 to 29 for men. Time Magazine even predicted that 25% of millennials will never get married.
And while all of that procrastination might seem like a bad thing for the destination wedding industry for obvious reasons, it’s surprisingly … not.
In fact, millennials are driving up demand for destination weddings in a major way, despite the fact that fewer of them are getting hitched.
Here are just a few reasons why millennials are opting for a destination wedding instead of a traditional one:
Millennials Care about Affordability
It may seem crazy, but destination weddings can be much more affordable than a large, traditional wedding. Not only are there fewer people attending, but many resorts throw in a lot of extras that traditional wedding spaces would not. Plus – guests are expected to foot a significant part of the bill by paying for their hotel and travel, while the bride and groom are responsible just for the wedding itself and possibly a dinner or reception.
Jennifer Doncsecz, a specialist in destination weddings, told Travel Market Report, “We saw a big increase in interest after the economic downturn in 2009 when a lot of young couples seemed to realize that it would be cost effective to do a destination wedding.” She also mentions that since wedding dates tend to be set far in advance, travel deals aren’t difficult to come by.
This is a generation that grew up during the recession. They understand the debt their parent’s dealt with and most are dealing with their own (millennial college grads owe an average of $29,000). As a result, they are more money-conscious than previous generations. And according to research results from Circle, a social mobile payments app, more than half of millennials revealed that they expect to pay for their own wedding.
Millennials Live Technology
Social media is giving millennials easier access to wedding planning, and to higher expectations.
Millennials want something one-of-a-kind that they can proudly share on social media, complete with their own Snapchat filters, and Instagram-worthy moments.
Hashtag generators will even give you your own unique #hashtag to use for your wedding, so friends attending can use them on Instagram and Twitter to organize your photos. And since many of them are opting to live-stream the wedding ceremony itself on apps like Periscope, a destination wedding only makes sense. After all, you get to go somewhere cool, bring only the people you’re really close to, and grandma who couldn’t make the trip can still see it all from the comfort of her own home. Apps like Wedpics are even specifically designed for sharing pictures just with wedding guests, keeping social media feeds from getting crowded with pictures only the bride and groom care to have.
Millennials Value Experiences Over Things
A study done by Eventbrite says of millennials, “For this group, happiness isn’t as focused on possessions or career status. Living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing, and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life’s opportunities.” Of all millennials, 78% said they would rather spend their money on a desirable experience than a desirable possession. And this focus on experience translates directly to the wedding industry. More millennials are opting for destination weddings because the experience is more important than the gifts they would receive at a big wedding reception at home.
Raquel Kristi, founder of pop-up wedding company PopBliss, agrees. She says that it’s less about the ceremony and reception and more about the journey. “Weddings are no longer just one day, they’re two and three-day weekends. It’s about the buildup of the moment and it not lasting just one day.”
Millennials Thrive on Originality
The exotic and the unique appeal to millennials, and what’s more original than a wedding far from home? The Eventbrite study showed that 69% (nearly 7 in 10!) millennials experience FOMO (fear of missing out) which makes them more apt to go all out on life events (like engagements, weddings, baby announcements, etc.).
And since FOMO fuels much of millennial travel (having that extra continent on your Instagram map is priceless), millennials are booking destination weddings to have a unique experience in a unique place.
While Mexico, Hawaii, and the Bahamas are still hotspots for destination weddings, millennials are also branching out to more interesting locations. Other popular venues are Nantucket, the Keys, Aspen, and Park City.
Millennials Have More Years of Anticipation
An article by Gillian B. White in The Atlantic discusses the theories behind why millennials are marrying later, citing gender dynamics, casual dating, more women heading to college and then to demanding careers, and also the fact that many young adults aren’t interested in getting married anymore.
But according to a recent Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, most millennials still believe in marriage – even if they’re not in a hurry to get there. The poll showed that 74% of Millennials still believe that marriage is a meaningful institution, but couldn’t agree on the right age to get married, with 63% believing 25-30 is a good time.
Regardless of the reasons millennials are getting married later, the extra years of anticipation for the big day adds an unprecedented attention to detail. As a result, more millennials are opting for destination weddings.
No matter the reason for the decision to throw a destination wedding, we like the way millennials are mixing things up. After all, what better way to share your love than with an intimate group of people in a beautiful, private place? (but you’re Periscoping this, right?).