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US study reveals impact of marriage equality on wedding planning

Marriage equality has had on wedding planning trends for same-sex, opposite sex and queer-identified couples. Notably, today’s same-sex couples are more likely to get married in the state in which they currently live; to plan celebrations with ceremonies and receptions; and to spend more per guest.

IMAGE PROVIDED BY BADLONG

WeddingWire, Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), GayWeddings and the Gay Wedding Institute released the results of the 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, providing an overview of the quickly evolving wedding landscape. The study sheds light on how all couples, especially same-sex couples, have planned their weddings since the US Supreme Court’s historic ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality on June 26, 2015. Over 1,400 respondents who married since 2013 or are currently engaged were recruited from CMI’s research panel and the client databases of WeddingWire, GayWeddings and the Gay Wedding Institute.

This inclusive and comprehensive nationwide survey revealed the clear impact that marriage equality has had on wedding planning trends for same-sex, opposite sex and queer-identified couples. Notably, today’s same-sex couples are more likely to get married in the state in which they currently live; to plan celebrations with ceremonies and receptions; and to spend more per guest ($117 for same-sex weddings versus $100 for opposite-sex weddings). Same-sex couples tend to spend less overall on their weddings compared to opposite-sex couples because they invite fewer guests.

“It is an honor and privilege to have helped develop and provide analysis for the most deliberate, inclusive study available in the marketplace today,” said Kathryn Hamm, publisher of GayWeddings. “Because the legal landscape has shifted so quickly in the U.S., gay wedding trends revealed as few as four years ago are no longer able to be generalized to today’s same-sex couples. Understanding the real story of what’s happening in the wedding market requires the comprehensive, nuanced, and comparison-based look included in this report.”

“Since the SCOTUS ruling, more same-sex couples are planning bigger weddings, and this new survey reveals fascinating trends on LGBTQ weddings,” said Bernadette Smith, founder of the Gay Wedding Institute and WeddingWire Education Contributor. “For instance, the results of this most recent survey reveal a gradual adherence to traditions and rituals including formal wedding ceremonies and receptions – despite a significant concern over being rejected.”

Additional key findings include:

Shift in same-sex weddings post marriage equality

  • More same-sex couples are now choosing to get married in their home states (77%) because they no longer need to travel to another state for legal marriage recognition.
  • The number of same-sex couples celebrating their unions with a ceremony and reception with invited guests has increased to 79%, from 43% prior to 2013.
  • Emotional support for same-sex couples has increased. For example, support from parents of same-sex couples has increased from 46% to 60%, compared to 86% for opposite-sex couples.

Increased spend and financial contributions from family

  • Though a strong majority of same-sex couples (74%) continue to pay for all or most of the wedding costs on their own, the number receiving some financial assistance from parents is increasing.
  • The average spend on a same-sex wedding has increased 88% from 2013, in large part, because LGBTQ couples are now much less likely to have city hall weddings.
  • When looking at all types of weddings, ranging from city hall events to larger receptions, the average same-sex couple has spent $11,000 compared to $15,000 for opposite-sex couples. Same-sex couples tend to spend less overall on their weddings compared to opposite-sex couples because they invite fewer guests.
  • Same-sex and opposite-sex couples who plan ceremonies and receptions on sites like WeddingWire and GayWeddings are more likely to be planning larger events and report spending up to $29,000 on the wedding.

Search for inclusive vendors

  • When searching for vendors, same-sex couples are looking for businesses that serve all types of couples regardless of sexual orientation, race and other factors (87%) and that have experience serving same-sex couples (86%).
  • Twelve percent (12%) of engaged same-sex couples say they’ve experienced discrimination when planning their weddings, while 13% are uncertain. For example, same-sex couples may wonder if unreturned phone calls are due to their sexual orientation and an unwillingness to serve them.
  • Ninety-eight percent (98%) of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral; 53% percent of opposite-sex couples share the same positive sentiment.

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