Wedding Industry Statistics & Insights: 2022 Real Wedding Study

2022 was a record year for US weddings, as 2.6M couples reunited with friends and family and said their vows. The year saw couples continue to embrace long-standing traditions like first dances and proposing on bended knee, while technology helped couples discover new ways to showcase their individuality. The Knot surveyed nearly 12,000 couples married in 2022 to provide a comprehensive look at how weddings unfolded–from the engagement to the final sendoff and emerging trends among Gen Z. We also talked to newly-engaged couples to understand how the economy might impact 2023 weddings.

A Return to Normalcy

2022 was a boom for the wedding industry and marked a return to “pre-pandemic” norms after two years of major disruption. Fewer than one in ten (7%) said their wedding date was impacted by COVID-19, down from 27% in 2021. While 25% continued to offer hand sanitizer to guests (highest among couples married in early 2022 at 39%), other health and safety measures dropped significantly:

Having staff wear masks: 5% (down from 40% in 2021)

Changed ceremony or reception from indoor to outdoor: 8% (down from 17% in 2021)

Encouraging social distancing: 10% (down from 32% in 2021)

In this report, we’ll cover all aspects of 2022 weddings starting with the proposal.

The Engagement

Planning the proposal

The average engagement length in 2022 was 15 months, though 13% of couples were engaged two years or longer (not surprising given pandemic delays). Once again, December was the top engagement month as 15% of couples opted to celebrate this important milestone with their loved ones (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the top dates!). Most couples sought parental permission prior to the proposal (71%).

One of the major shifts in recent years has been couples more thoughtfully crafting their proposals. In fact, a majority of proposers (58%) said they felt pressure to plan a “highly unique proposal,” and roughly half planned their proposal one to three months in advance compared to 31% in 2017.

Not only are pros vital throughout the entire wedding journey (couples hire 14 vendors on average), but many proposers rely on them even before planning has officially begun. For the proposal, couples are increasingly involving pros to help, in ways like having special lighting and decor to create a romantic ambiance to hiring a photographer to capture the surprise (including furry friends!). Close to one-quarter of couples surveyed enlisted the help of pros for their proposal–nearly double the number in 2019.

Ring styles and cost

The vast majority of couples surveyed (95%) exchange ring(s), and diamonds remain the overwhelming choice for the center stone (85%). In 2022, there were continued shifts in engagement ring styles including:

Stone shape: Round shape is the most popular (37%), though data has shown a rise in popularity for the oval shape (21%, up from 7% in 2017).

: More than one-third of center stones in 2022 were lab grown (36%), doubling in popularity in the past two years (+18% since 2020). Major jewelry brands like Pandora, Blue Nile and Grown Brilliance expanded their offering of lab-grown diamonds last year. With more couples choosing lab-grown diamonds which tend to have lower price tags, data is also indicating carat sizes have increased compared to historic levels.

When all was said and done, couples spent an average of $5,800 on an engagement ring (trending similar to past years), with roughly one-third spending between $1,000 and $4,000.

Today’s Couples

Understanding today’s couples

In 2022, the average age to get married among couples surveyed was 31. Notably, the oldest Gen Z turned 25–now entering the core marrying ages. While younger consumers are glued to technology, they are less likely to have met their partner online than Millennials and are instead more likely to have met their partner at school (22%). Given the greater life experience of Millennials, it makes sense that a much higher percentage lived with their partner pre-marriage than Gen Z.

The Planning Process

Couples’ top challenges during the planning process are planning with a budget (47%) and determining the guest list (36%). On average, couples themselves pay for 49% of the wedding costs, though older Gen X adults (81%) and those identifying as LGBTQ+ (56%) shoulder a greater percentage of costs. Couples are most likely to pay for their portion by tapping into their checking account (57%) or paying cash along the way (54%), though credit cards (39%) and money gifted via wedding gifts/registry (28%) are also key sources.

Couples rely on a wide range of resources to plan-especially friends/family (73%) and wedding planning websites (73%). About two-thirds turn to Pinterest (68%)–most often for inspiration– and roughly three in ten hire a wedding planner (29%).

Technology’s role in wedding planning

2022 saw higher levels of couples asking guests to unplug for the ceremony (45%). But, when it comes to planning, consumers continue to rely heavily on technology.

Today’s couples are doing the majority of planning online (90%):

46% of planning was done on a desktop/laptop

44% was done on a phone/tablet

10% was done offline

Since couples report spending an average of six hours a week wedding planning, nearly two-thirds download wedding apps to be able to plan on the go and multitask (an evening of Netflix and wedding planning is a likely combo!).

With TikTok experiencing rapid growth (the hashtag #weddingplanningtiktok has more than 25M views) and the continued popularity of YouTube, it shouldn’t be a surprise that online video content has played a greater role than ever before. 45% of couples watched video content for inspiration and guidance on topics ranging from planning within budget to ideas to make the guest experience special like having unexpected seating charts or unique signage.

The metaverse was a hot topic in 2022 with innovations spanning virtual concerts, marathons and more. However, usage for weddings is in its nascency as only 3% said they used AR/VR technology.

2022 Weddings at a Glance

Taking a closer look at 2022 weddings, guest counts climbed to an average of 117 guests with attendee counts for summer and early fall weddings trending a bit higher (123 average). Lingering effects of the pandemic were a reason for guest counts not fully returning to 2019 levels, as 35% of Q1 couples said they invited fewer than planned due to COVID (it wasn’t until June that the US dropped testing requirements for international travelers) but by Q4 a notably lower 16% of couples said this was a factor.

Similar to prior years, roughly two in ten couples are opting for a destination wedding–a location other than their hometown or where they currently live. The vast majority of destination weddings take place within the United States (91%) and more than half said they picked a location that had special meaning to them (55%).

The Vendor Team

Couples continued to lean heavily on wedding pros and hired an average of 14 vendors for their wedding day, with dress being the top category (93%). With personalization such an important element, many seek out photographers, caterers and other professionals who understand their vision and can turn it into reality. The majority are having a semi-formal affair (64%) and use a range of adjectives to describe their wedding from romantic (33%) and elegant (24%) to outdoorsy (16%) and boho (11%). When selecting vendors like a DJ, florist or hair stylist, price continues to be a top consideration along with reviews, as many seek wedding pros who have proven experience and examples working with like-minded couples.

A Closer Look at Venues

One of the first major decisions that couples make is selecting a venue. Nearly 6 in 10 couples (57%) selected a wedding location within 30 miles of where they currently live. Most couples will secure rentals such as tables, chairs and linens through their venue (75%). For the first time, farms/barns are the top reception type–tied with banquet halls.

Creating a personalized wedding

Weddings are not one size fits all and couples continue to find new ways to showcase their personalities in their wedding. This individuality shines through in many ways from incorporating sustainable elements to highlighting their heritage/culture through food (like this drool-worthy German pretzel station). More couples are incorporating a wedding theme (+13%) and the level of creativity is impressive, with couples dreaming up everything from “Roaring ’20s with Star Wars influence” and “Taylor Swift and Cats” to “Books and Brew” (coffee bar and books as centerpieces) and “Vintage Nintendo.”

From wearing white to setting up a wedding registry, there continues to be trends and traditions that are embraced by a large number of couples. In 2022, the first dance was again the most popular trend with the top song being Perfect by Ed Sheeran–this is the sixth year in a row Ed’s song has been the top choice for a couple’s first dance–followed by Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis.

Here’s a look at the top trends of 2022:

91% – Couple performed a first dance

90% – At least one member of the couple wore white

84% – Set up a wedding registry

83% – Order of the day was ceremony, cocktail hour, reception

80% – There were father-daughter and/or mother-son dances

78% – Had a rehearsal dinner

76% – One person changed their name to their partner’s last name

74% – Had a cake-cutting ceremony

70% – Incorporated something old, new, borrowed and blue

68% – Guests had specific table assignments

Each year brings new trends–some that end up with short-lived acclaim and others that continue to climb in popularity. There are several food-related trends gaining momentum including having a signature cocktail (+17% since 2017). On the flip side, usage of favors has declined due to many becoming more more mindful about sustainability, though there are a growing number of eco-friendly options and edible treats that are usually a crowd-pleaser.

Gen Z’s View on Wedding Trends

As a growing number of Gen Z couples begin to get married, key differences are emerging in terms of how Gen Z approaches wedding planning and the day itself. Here are three key themes becoming apparent.

1. Capturing and sharing the moment

Younger consumers value being able to look back and remember this special time from the beginning, which means taking engagement photos is a must for the vast majority (89%, +10 points vs. Millennials). When it comes to the wedding day, 83% say photo/video is the most important element (+7 points vs. Millennials) and nearly eight in ten have a guest book at the wedding to capture guest sentiment (+7 points vs. Millennials). In addition, Gen Z couples are more likely to provide some type of photography for guests during the reception (e.g. polaroid camera, selfie station, etc.) than any other generation (31% among those who had additional guest entertainment, +8 points vs. Millennials). Post-wedding, you’re likely to see Gen Z couples posting both the silly and sweet moments on their social media feeds.

2. Making a statement

Gen Z also wants their day to be remembered through statement moments and embraces opportunities to surprise and delight guests whether that involves champagne shooters, a choreographed wedding party entrance or something more bold. About two-thirds (67%) of Gen Z couples reported having a grand entrance or exit (think sparklers or fireworks) compared to 49% of Millennials. They also welcome opportunities to incorporate cultural elements–about 40% of Gen Z couples included ethnic, religious and/or cultural elements into their wedding (i.e., jumping the broom, unity candle, etc.), compared to 32% of Millennials. Finally, younger couples are also opting to incorporate vibrant and unconventional colors. In particular, green was a popular choice among Gen Z (56%), which makes sense as couples have been leaning into cozy garden themes and the “cottagecore” aesthetic.

3. Embracing technology to plan

Gen Z has grown up with technology at their fingertips and takes full advantage of tech to increase efficiency and simplicity during wedding planning. Gen Z is notably more likely to use online chats to speak with vendors (40%, +10 points vs. Millennials) as well as watch online videos for tips or inspiration (51%, +7 points vs. Millennials). They’re also shaking up how wedding information is shared, such as including a QR code in their save the dates or invitations that link out to their wedding website (26%, +6 points vs. Millennials).

2022 Wedding Spend

The cost of weddings and the economic impact

Couples surveyed spent an average of $30,000 on their ceremony and reception in 2022, though spend varied widely depending on guest count, location, time of year and number of vendors hired. For example, weddings in midwestern cities like Cincinnati and Kansas City cost an average of $24,000, while costs in larger, metropolitan areas like Philadelphia and Washington DC are closer to $40,000.

The average spend is up slightly from historic spend (+$2k YoY); however, with inflation climbing steeply in 2022, it’s no surprise that roughly one in two newlyweds said the economy impacted their wedding cost/planning (this is 13% higher than in 2021 when 38% said the economy impacted their wedding) and was felt more so by couples who had a summer or fall wedding.

As couples were assembling their vendor teams, 39% reported that the topic of inflation arose during conversation. To help tackle these challenges, couples whose wedding felt the economic impact found themselves most often increasing their overall budget at least once (60%) and/or being more selective about their “must haves” by deciding against upgrades/add-ons they had originally considered (54%).

A Look Toward 2023

The mindset of couples planning for 2023

Though COVID may not be top of mind during planning in 2023 as it once was, couples are facing a new set of challenges due to the economy and inflation. Based on data from our most recent survey conducted in January 2023, 61% of couples who are set to wed this year say the economy has already impacted their wedding planning/decision making. While planning within budget is typically a top challenge couples face during any given year, the study found that 49% of couples specifically cited inflation/rising costs as another top concern.

Despite the current state of the economy, the majority of 2023 couples say their budgets are remaining flat. Of the 30% who say they are making changes to their budget as a result of the economy, the majority of couples are actually increasing their wedding spend/budget (61%), while only one-third are decreasing.

In order to keep their wedding on track and adjust for inflation, couples are making a few different adjustments:

41% are making modifications to what they originally planned

39% are trimming their guest list by cutting 25 guests on average

36% are reaching out to more vendors than initially planned to find an option that fits within their budget

Key 2023 stats, including the top wedding date

The most popular day to get married will be Saturday September 23. In recent years, fall has been the most popular time to get married and couples are drawn to dates that have matching numbers (23rd in 2023), which was also the case during the prior year (October 22nd in 2022 was highest). October will once again be the most popular month to get married, with three out of the top five most popular days expected to take place in this month.

In 2023, farms/barns and banquet halls will remain top picks, and nearly 80% report that their ceremony and venue will be held at the same location (77%). With guest experience and personalization continuing to drive decisions, we’re excited to see what other trends emerge in 2023–including monogrammed ice sculptures, creative wedding signage and colorful attire!

Survey Methodology: The Real Weddings Study captured responses from 11,646 US couples married between January 1 and December 31, 2022; respondents were recruited via email invitation from The Knot and/or WeddingWire membership. Respondents represent couples from all over the country with various ethnicities, income levels, race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. To provide the most comprehensive view of 2022 trends, this report also includes findings from ad hoc studies conducted throughout the year. In a typical year, The Knot Worldwide conducts research with more than 300,000 couples, guests and wedding professionals globally.