The Knot, a leading wedding planning and registry resource, today released its Future of Relationships and Weddings Study. It offers insight into the attitudes and expectations of 18 to 29 year olds—an age group defined as both Gen Z and younger millennials—toward relationships, weddings and marriage. The study, which surveyed those dating or currently in a relationship, unveiled that approximately half of Gen Z and millennial respondents want to be financially independent and build a successful career before marriage, while just over 30% want to purchase a home. Additionally, the majority of Gen Z and millennials believe sharing the same family values (69%) and relationship views (68%) as their future spouse is twice as important as sharing the same race (26%), ethnicity (26%) or political views (32%). They also believe they are more likely to meet “the one” through friends, school or in a social setting vs. online dating or dating apps.
“As we usher in a new generation of to-be-engaged couples—and then, to-be-weds—we’re expecting that Gen Z and younger millennials will continue to shatter social norms and make their own traditions when it comes to their future weddings and marriages,” said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief of The Knot. “We look forward to seeing more couples—no matter their sexual orientation—incorporate mixed-gender parties into their weddings, with half of Gen Z and millennials believing that this trend will become more popular over time. We can also expect to see more of a focus on beautiful, Instagrammable wedding day content, with 30% predicting they’ll likely splurge on photography for their future wedding.”
An Expected Increase in Popularity of Mixed-Gender Wedding Parties and Nontraditional Wedding Attire
With 80% of Gen Z and millennials putting at least some thought into their wedding day (17% know exactly what they want) and with marriage valued as equally important as traveling to this wanderlust-inspired generation, it’s expected that unique, modern-day wedding trends will continue to increase in popularity. In fact, in addition to 49% of Gen Z and millennials expecting an increase in popularity of mixed-gender wedding parties regardless of sexual orientation, 42% expect that women will continue to wear nontraditional attire on their wedding day, choosing a jumpsuit or skirt in place of, or in addition to, a wedding gown. Additionally, 31% of Gen Z and millennials expect that taking a partner’s last name will decrease in popularity. While photography tops the list of wedding services that most Gen Z and millennials admit they’re likely to splurge on, the majority of women (36%) are more willing to splurge on wedding attire for their special day, while men would prefer to spend the extra money on music (31%).
The majority of Gen Z and millennials expect to get married in the next two to five years. When it comes to their expectations of marriage, trust and communication were seen as the most challenging part (24%). This can likely explain why two-thirds of Gen Z and millennials feel it’s important to discuss those expectations—with the most important conversations focusing on careers, finances and having kids—before their engagement. Three-fourths of Gen Z and millennials also anticipate they will likely live with their future spouse before marriage, with 53% saying they will definitely live together. Gen Z and millennials are also less likely to believe that their future spouse has to have the same friends (26%), race (26%), ethnicity (26%) or political beliefs (32%), favoring a shared sense of family values (69%) and relationship views (68%).
Expectations of Relationships and Marriage Contrast Trends Set by Today’s Newlyweds
When it comes to their relationship and future marriage, some expectations and beliefs of Gen Z and millennials contrast the trends set by today’s newlyweds. Despite online dating and apps being the most popular way that current married couples meet each other (22%), dating Gen Z and millennials are far more likely to believe they’ll meet “the one” through friends (23%), school (14%) or in a social setting (17%), with only 12% believing they’ll meet online. Additionally, Gen Z and millennials consider having shared family values to be the most important quality in a future spouse—with the majority looking to their parents (48%) and grandparents (43%) as a positive example of marriage over friends (36%), influencers (16%) and celebrities (15%). Approximately 40% believe that seeking parents’ permission to wed will become a less popular, antiquated tradition in the future. Despite these differences, one area where Gen Z and millennials align with newlyweds today is their anticipation of living together (53%) and purchasing a home (30%) before marriage.
Time for Change: Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ Couples Continue to Face Criticism
Now more than ever, it’s important to show support and understanding for couples of every race, sexual orientation and gender. Unfortunately, there’s still plenty of progress to be made, as one-third of Gen Z and millennial Hispanic (32%) and Black (30%) couples say they have faced criticism of their relationship due to race. Additionally, nearly four in ten Black couples have had their relationship criticized due to age, while 36% of LGBTQ+ couples have had their relationships questioned due to sexual orientation. For LGBTQ+ couples, less than half (38%) say their parents are very or extremely supportive of their sexuality and among other family members, only 25% are supportive. However, the majority (70%) of Gen Z and millennial LGBTQ+ couples say that friends are very or extremely supportive.
TV and Movie Couples Provide Positive Relationship Inspiration
While nearly half of Gen Z and millennial respondents look to their parents as a source of positive relationship inspiration (48%), they also look to the TV and movie screen (20%), citing popular fictional couples including Pam and Jim from The Office, Monica and Chandler from Friends, Allie and Noah from The Notebook, and even Bob and Linda Belcher from the cartoon Bob’s Burgers. In fact, three in ten LGBTQ+ couples say they look to TV characters for positive inspiration, which is nearly the same percentage as those who say their parents and grandparents have set good examples. Also, in addition to their parents and grandparents, Black (22%) and Hispanic (23%) Gen Z and millennials say that celebrities or social media influencers are a source of positive relationship inspiration, mentioning popular personalities including YouTube influencers De’arra and Ken, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
As wedding and marriage trends evolve with a new generation of soon-to-be engaged—and later, to-be-wed—couples, The Knot’s Future of Relationships and Weddings Study aims to be a resource and provide expert insight into the attitudes and expectations of Gen Z and millennials.
Nearly 1,000 respondents who are dating or currently in a relationship (not engaged or married) were recruited via a third-party panel in March 2020 as well as an additional 200 who identify as LGBTQ+.
About The Knot
The Knot is one of the nation’s leading multiplatform wedding resources offering a seamless, all-in-one planning experience—from finding inspiration and local vendors to creating and managing all guest experiences, wedding registries and more. The trusted brand reaches a majority of engaged couples in the US through the #1 iOS and Android mobile app The Knot Wedding Planner, the #1 wedding planning website TheKnot.com, The Knot national and local wedding magazines, and The Knot book series. Since its inception, The Knot has inspired approximately 25 million couples to plan a wedding that’s uniquely them. Visit The Knot online at TheKnot.com and follow on social media: Facebook.com/TheKnot and @TheKnot on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.