Millennial weddings: Do you fit the stereotype?
Most industries now have a default idea of what to expect from ‘young people’ – none more so than the wedding industry. So it’s worth considering what people will come to expect of you, as ‘millennial’ nearlyweds.
This is a post for millennials, written by and published by millennials. And that sentence, in itself, makes us cringe a bit. Whenever you hear someone use that word to describe our generation, it’s rarely someone who’s actually part of our generation. It’s a word mostly used by the media, market research types and people of older generations – mostly baby boomers. And a lot of the time, they use it to speak about us as if we’re some kind of alien race or newly discovered sea creature. (The first heading of this Goldman Sachs infographic is ‘who are they?’)
And with this label comes a stereotype. When an industry thinks of you as a millennial, it changes what people expect from you, how they treat you and how they market to you. So let’s look at a list of these assumptions. And ask yourself this: are these things true of me and how do I feel about people assuming they are?
If you’re a millennial, the wedding industry will often assume:
1. You’re aged mid-teens to mid-thirties
We’ve included this as an assumption because it’s not as clear cut as market researchers might like to think. The broad age range for millennials is ‘born in the 80s or 90s’, but one look at the wikipedia page will tell you there’s a wild disparity in dates.
If you’re 19 and born in 1999, some people might not consider you part of the millennial generation (you’d be gen Z, whatever the hell that means). If you were born in the earlier years of the eighties, some people might consider you a ‘gen Xer’.
2. You’ll marry at a later age
The researchers at Goldman Sachs say the average millennial age for weddings is 30, compared to 23 back when your parents’ generation were getting married.
That makes a big difference to how people perceive you as nearlyweds. If you’re 26 or 27, the wedding industry and all its many vendors will think of you as young, whereas 30ish years ago, they’d think you were marrying late.
3. You’re obsessed with social media
This is very relevant to marketing. We all know that awkward moment when a business tries to show they’re down with ‘selfie culture’. Remember that Kendall Jenner ad Pepsi tried to float on SM?
When it comes to weddings, people will mostly assume you want to Instagram every last detail of it.
4. You’re not religious or bound by tradition
This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
In the UK, it makes perfect sense that the traditional church wedding has waned so much. The country’s more multicultural now than it was in our parents’ times – religious people are more likely to be non-christian, and children of christian families are much more likely to be skeptical of religion, or at least the importance of its traditions.
5. You buy and plan everything online
This probably plays to your advantage in the long run. If you buy and plan everything online, you probably factor ratings and reviews into your decision making.
Vendors know this and they assume you’ll be demanding when it comes to customer service. So they know it’s not just about doing a bare-minimum job and banking your money – they want you to be happy and give them a good review.
So even if you’re not the online shopping type, you probably still reap the benefits of the assumption that you are.
6. You’re all about the equality
Gender roles aren’t totally redundant in millennial relationships, but (as a baby boomer might say) they ain’t what they used to be.
We think there’s a lot of truth in this one. Women’s roles have changed a lot over the last 40ish years. Women often pay half the dinner bill, men often wash and tidy up, and you’re no longer a pitiful, emasculated embarrassment to your family if your wife earns more than you do.
And most importantly, no one still expects the wife to plan the wedding solo and the put-upon husband to simply nod along and sulk about missing the FA Cup semi-final. Teamwork is the new norm.
7. You’ll live together before you get married
This one’s interesting because it actually conflicts with the stereotype of the debt-addled 30-year-old millennial still living with their parents.
But this is one of those assumptions that’s almost universally accurate. We have to rack our brains to think of anyone we know who got married before they lived together.
8. You’re quick to spot BS
We left this one to last because we really like it.
The prevailing wisdom is that, as a millennial, you’re hard to deceive and very resistant to advertising. You can fact-check anything that sounds spurious with a few taps of your phone. You grew up bombarded by ads and can smell a rat a mile off. You spend your life clicking past ads on YouTube, blocking popups and calling celebrities sellouts for taking lucrative endorsements. That Kendall Jenner ad definitely did not make you want a Pepsi.
Combine that with the ratings and review culture we talked about earlier, and its safe to say the wedding industry expect you to be a much harder sell than your parents’ generation.
So how much of a stereotype are you?
One thing we’ve tried to highlight here is that many of these things aren’t negative at all. And that’s important to remember, because the term ‘millennial’ can often seem like a slur. The prevailing political winds of 2017 often make it seem like being a millennial is something to be ashamed of.
But there was one thing we read in researching for this blog that stood out. We don’t even remember where we read it, but it stuck with us: Remember that every generation finds ways to mock the ones that follow.
That is worth remembering. When we’re in our 50s and 60s, most of us will probably treat 20-somethings like aliens who can’t appreciate good music and don’t understand how hard we had it. And it makes sense – what’s more universally enviable than youth?
Let us know in the comments how stereotypical you are. You can even do the quiz from Pew Research to determine ‘how millennial you are’.
(Phew, that’s done and we can finally stop saying that word.)