Weddings are expensive. As of last year, the average wedding cost over $35,000 and can exceed $60,000 in bigger cities like Chicago or New York. Tack on skyrocketing venue costs and extra amenities for guests (think photo booths and butler-passed hors d’oeuvres) and you could dish out even more cash. Unless, of course, like more and more millennials, you feel your money would be better spent elsewhere. According to the Washington Post, members of the infamous generation are rewriting the script when it comes to getting hitched.
In line with their core value of living with purpose, millennials aren’t buying the crazy expenses that come with traditional weddings — literally. Though we’ve been the butt of some pretty harsh stereotypes (we see you, avocado toast), studies show that, more than other generations, millennials are looking for meaning and purpose, and we are willing to defy traditional timelines and cultural expectations to find them. A 2016 Gallup poll found that millennials want a purposeful life, active community, and financial stability, even if that means trading in a traditional wedding for no-frills (but elegant!) courthouse nuptials.
So if not weddings, what would millennials getting married rather spend their money on? Many would rather invest in valuable experiences that outlast the one-day fanfare of a full-blown wedding. Amy Johnson, 29, who got married in a Minneapolis courthouse in April wearing a $100 dress from Zappos, said she and her fiance wanted to invest in experiences that would help them grow. “When we got engaged, we had a conversation about what was important to us,” she said. “The answer was always that we wanted to be married, which is very different from wanting to get married.”
When Johnson and her now husband took the time to examine what was actually meaningful to them, a traditional wedding ceremony and reception just didn’t make the cut. Instead, the Johnsons decided to keep their focus on what mattered to them: owning a home, staying out of debt, spending quality time with close friends and family, and traveling. “Instead of spending gobs of money on one fine day, we invested in time together that didn’t include catering or seating logistics,” she said. “It was more important for us to use our money on a place for us to live and experiences that help us grow.”
Though it took a little explaining to her mom, Nelson said she was ultimately happy with her decision to get married in a courthouse and then gather with her closest loved ones at a local mini-golf spot for games and brunch. “I feel nothing but pride in the way we got married. We truly got to be with the people we cared about most. It was joyful, easy, and stress-free,” she said.
The cherry on top? Because they didn’t exhaust their bank accounts on a wedding venue or formal dinner, they felt more freedom to do something they really loved together after the big day: travel. The morning after their wedding, Nelson and her new husband jetted off to Paris for two glorious weeks of celebrating their love and commitment — a memory and personal growth experience that will surely outlast the bells and whistles of a traditional wedding.
Did you trade in a traditional wedding for a different experience? Tweet us your non-traditional wedding stories @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)