Dave and Keshia had a family focused wedding. Photo by Alan Viau

There is a trend emerging in the wedding industry. Brides and grooms are going for a less traditional wedding in favor of an intimate experience. After a decade of continuous cost increases, now the expenditures on weddings are what they were 10 years ago. And with that are changes in how and what couples purchase for their big day.

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, I saw an immediate decrease in lavish weddings. I was a busy as always as I am necessary for a wedding. However, I saw more back yard ceremonies and receptions with a more intimate and selected gathering of friends and family.

The Wedding Report published their findings on wedding costs and demand for service and products for 2018. They found that overall wedding costs decreased in 2018 to about the same level as 2008. Couples are not spending more despite a relatively good economy. The reasons for this are lifestyle creep and general life expenses changing the priority of how couples spend and what they plan to purchase for their wedding.

Demand for traditional wedding expenditures is driving the lower overall spending. Almost every item is seeing lower demand including limo services, gifts, anything printed (invitations, photos), musicians. Event location, food, and decorations all saw higher demand. In my mind this confirms that couples are looking for an experience, not a traditional wedding.

There has also been a huge shift in how brides and grooms go about shopping, planning, and implementing their event. The use of the internet and digital tools has changed the dynamic of the experience.

Now, couples find products and services for their wedding through the internet, websites, and social media. Digital invitations are on the rise. Evite, for example, saw 34% more digital invitations year over year, accounting for 1.8 million guests. Here is a great infographic on the topic.

Couples are highly price sensitive right now. High levels of competition, free cash squeeze and higher debt are not helping. So what can a bride and groom do for their wedding?

Focus on the experience.

Below are a few DIY tips from Evite Party Specialist, Piera Pizzo. Check her out on Good Day LA here.

  • Narrow down the guest list and invite only the people who matter most: A smaller wedding allows you to save money and simultaneously spend more quality time with guests on your special day: a win-win. In terms of narrowing down your guest list, create a spreadsheet of everyone who’s in your life and color code them as either green (definitely invite – i.e. closest friends and family), yellow (maybe – i.e. old friends who you don’t regularly speak with) or red (probably not – i.e. grandma’s bridge club). For those who fall into the yellow and red categories, think about hosting an informal celebratory gathering – like a backyard barbecue – a few weeks after the wedding.
  • Keep it casual: Casual dress codes and more intimate weddings are on the rise; in fact, Evite data shows that 50% more weddings than last year had a casual dress code. Usually, casual means anything goes—but in the case of weddings, jeans, shorts and tank tops are likely not appropriate unless they’re specifically noted otherwise. Assume business casual or cocktail attire to be on the safe side.
  • Make it DIY: There’s no shame in the DIY game. Here are a few options for do-it-yourself enthusiasts to make your wedding day cheaper and more representative of you.
  • Theme: A wedding should represent the essence of the couple. Are you a country loving duo? Host a rustic-country chic themed wedding, complete with a barn as a venue, with cowgirl boots as footwear, and mason jar and twine center pieces. Other DIY themes include garden party, whimsical, and bohemian.
  • Flowers: Many cities have flower marts with a wide variety of options, and also much cheaper than hiring a traditional wedding florist. Decide what you want in advance and send someone close to you to pick up flowers on the morning of your wedding. You can also make your own bouquets and centerpieces to ensure they are both cost-friendly and representative of you, through choosing favorite flowers, and taking the design into a minimalistic, elegant, or traditional direction.
  • Favors: Make your own favors especially when you have a very special, specific idea in mind that you will have fun making. Love whiskey? You could infuse whiskey with vanilla and give each guest a mini bottle. Having a fall wedding? Whip up some batches of apple butter and give everyone a small jar.