From techno string quartets to thrifted dresses, Gen Z weddings are on the rise

By Abby Amoakuh

Updated May 2, 2024 at 05:47 PM

Reading time: 5 minutes

Envision this: a young bride is walking down the aisle in a thrifted dress as a string quartet plays an instrumental version of ‘Heat Waves’ by Glass Animal. For their first dance, the couple probably chose ‘Love’ by Lana Del Rey. Afterwards, the DJ starts playing a medley of Taylor Swift songs. There will be no cake smashing at this wedding but, who knows, maybe a playful food fight? And as the wedding content creators begin to interview the guests for the post-ceremony confessionals, the wedding party hands out LED glow sticks to the guests on the dancefloor as they begin to dance the night away. Welcome to Gen Z weddings.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘There are no Gen Z weddings. The only people who get married in their early 20s are Mormon influencers or Millie Bobby Brown.’ But it turns out that among the millions of couples tying the knot every year, are many Gen Zers willing to take the plunge into holy matrimony a bit earlier than expected. And we youngsters are already leaving quite a mark on the wedding landscape. Thus, SCREENSHOT compiled a range of different reports to give you an idea of exactly what Gen Z weddings are all about.

‘Can I have your Snapchat?’ — ‘No, I’m married’

@briana.bishop

remeniscing 🫶🏼 #weddingtiktok #weddingday #bride #2024wedding #wedding

♬ Slipping Through My Fingers - Declan McKenna
@emilymelnychuk

no regrets 🫶. #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #youngmarriage #marriage #marriedlife #wife #wifey #wifelife #wifeandhusband #younglove #marriagetok #marriagegoals #marriagehumor #weddingtiktok #wedding #weddingtok #engaged #engagement #engagementring #engagmenttok #engagmenttiktok

♬ Another Love (slowed down original sound) - Tom Odell

As the oldest Gen Zers are now reaching marrying age as they enter their mid to late 20s, we are already getting a good glimpse of how their way of doing nuptials is changing the wedding industry. The first step on their new wedding agenda? Wedding content creators.

What is a wedding content creator?

Good question! And lucky for you, I dug myself through Google and TikTok to get a bona fide answer.

A wedding content creator shoots behind-the-scenes content on an iPhone (or camcorder for that specific vintage vibe) to capture all the cute and candid moments a videographer or photographer usually can’t manage to get a hold of. As such, they’ll usually attend the wedding as an undercover guest and document the special day in hundreds of snaps and short-form clips that will be delivered to the couple within 24 hours after the celebrations. Rather than a feature-length film, you’ll receive hundreds of little moments captured throughout the day that will last you until the professional videos and images are delivered.

Think of them as your special wedding bestie that will save your parents or grandparents from having to figure out their phones just to take a picture of you before the ceremony.

@contentbymollyalison

Replying to @alexa lana weddings > #lanadelrey #letthelightin #madonnainn #firstdance

♬ original sound - madeline !

Second on the agenda is vintage shopping.

Gen Z are thrifting their wedding outfits

@niagatica

I am finally answering one of the questions I am asked most frequently — where can you thrift bridal gowns? 1. The easiest way to find the largest amount of secondhand gowns is going to be on resale sites like @stillwhite @nearlynewlywed or @preowned_wedding_dresses_shop. You can filter results by style, size, budget, or even specific designers. You can find so many like-new and even brand new dresses on these sites with huge savings. 2. Search “bridal consignment near me” to find local shops who specifically sell used bridal gowns. I found the dress of my dreams in one for 60% off of the original price and you’d never know it wasn’t brand new. Check your local thrift shops as well! I came across so many veils and accessories as well as amazing dresses for bridal showers/rehearsal dinners etc. 3. Check the clothing resale apps like @poshmark, @depop, @mercari, etc! This is how I found much of my bach and honeymoon wardrobe! These you have to be a bit more specific when searching (in my experience) but it is worth it! And for the girlies who aren’t attached to clothing, you can easily resell your gown from the same place you purchased it, making a good amount of your money back and continuing the reuse cycle! If you’ve been here for awhile you know I love thrifting so this was such a fun and meaningful experience for me. I hope this helps and I am happy to answer any other questions! #bridetobe #greenbride #thrifthaul #thriftedwedding #secondhand #bridalgown #secondhandweddingdress

♬ Real Love Baby - Father John Misty
@jstcex

#ootd #wiw #weddingfit #fitcheck #mensfashion #thrifted #oversized #suits

♬ IT GIRL (Sped up Version) - Aliyah's Interlude

Most Gen Zers will know that the thrift shop is where it’s at if you’re looking for a special, one-of-a-kind piece. And where is a better place for that than at a wedding?

@lexmatrone

my favorite little white dresses 👰‍♀️🤍 ill be posting a bunch of clothes over the next couple weeks too @Teleport | Thrifting App #closetcleanout #bridaloutfits #engagementoutfit #weddingtiktok #bridetok #thrifting

♬ we fell in love in october - girl in red
@koolboyorel

#styling a look for my sister’s wedding!!!ahhhhh this is soooo exciting. im absolutely in luv with my #dior suit, #thrifted from badmouth.archive

♬ Like a Virgin - Madonna

Google searches for “used wedding dresses” have increased by 100 per cent over the past five years and those for “sell wedding dress near me” are up 1,350 per cent. In its annual weddings report, Lyst revealed that views of preowned wedding dresses on its platform have risen by 93 per cent in 2018.

Since the majority of clothes can also be purchased for a literal fraction of the original price, second-hand wedding looks are also a great way to save some cash.

Gen Z are getting married on a budget

Around 75 per cent of Gen Z and millennial couples said in a recent survey that they think it’s too expensive to get married amid a cost of living crisis and wage stagnation.

In 2023, the cost of the average wedding reached $30,000 in the US and £20,775 in the UK. That is a massive chunk of money most young people would rather use for a down payment or to pay off their student loans.

Enter the low-budget wedding trend on TikTok that is being spearheaded by us young savers. In other words, we’re saying ‘yes’ to the cheap wedding dress, buffets instead of catering, playlists instead of DJs, small guest counts, and DIY flower arrangements.

@shayna_webb

the priorities talk hasssss to be first before you book anything!!!!! it helps so much when you can make sure you have the things you care about MOST (whether its a dress, a specific venue, a band you want, etc) accounted for. Then whatever you have left of your agreed upon wedding budget, divide up to the other categories. Hope that makes sense and helps anyone on weddingtok!!! #weddingbudgettips #howtoplanawedding #weddingplanningstress #weddingplanningtips #weddingbudget #weddingpriorities #engagedtiktok

♬ original sound - Shayna | gen z bride+wife tips
@hellomeganjean

#greenscreen wedding budget breakdown for those asking!! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have the perfect day 🥰 #airbnbwedding #microwedding #budgetwedding #budgetweddingtips #affordablewedding #diybride #5kwedding #weddingbudgethack #weddingcost #microweddingcolorado #smallwedding

♬ original sound - meg
@sharasreads

Wedding for $2,000! See the total cost breakdown in detail on my insta #MyInstaxShoutout #topdog #W2Step #wedding #budgetwedding #fyp #fy #foryou

♬ Moon (And It Went Like) - Kid Francescoli & Julia Minkin

To gain a deeper insight into low-cost weddings, SCREENSHOT reached out to two Gen Z brides and asked them about their ideas of making a wedding day special, without creating debt you’ll be paying off forever.

“With getting married young, I know a lot of people’s concern is money. We had a wedding of around 130 people, so it wasn’t too big. We had only 5 months to plan our wedding with a small budget. We saved a lot of money buying fake flowers from Hobby Lobby, table decor from Amazon, and many more things from thrift stores or even Walmart! You can still have your dream wedding on a budget,” Abigail Garcia replied, who got married to her beau at 18.

@abbyg.garcia

People are crazy for getting married young!🫡 #marriedyoung #married #relationship #christian #wifey #husbandandwife #marriedhumor ib @Alinaaa #greenscreen

♬ original sound - Gone

Aleks Mladenova, a 26-year-old Gen Z wife, had similar thoughts on the matter.

“We were firm on inviting only people we truly wanted there, with very few exceptions when it came to important friends of our families. At the end of the day, it’s your day and you want to be surrounded by people you feel comfortable being emotional in front of and having fun with.”

 

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A post shared by Aleks Valenzuela (@aleks_valenzuela_)

About cost saving, she said: “Back to concerns—cost is definitely a thing. Just feeding more than ten people nice food is expensive. But I think that when you’re working with a budget you really need to prioritise your expenses. What is most important and what are things you can overlook? For us, the top priorities were having great food, a great photographer and videographer to capture moments we will be looking back on for years to come, and having our wedding outdoors. Yes, I really wanted to have a super whimsical and magical wedding in the middle of nowhere but the cost to set everything up yourself, to bring a whole kitchen and staff, as well as toilets was just not worth the hassle and financial investment. So we chose a venue that was outdoors but not wild.”

In an attempt not to break the bank on just one day of celebrations, a lot of young couples are also opting for cheaper weekday and courthouse weddings.

Gen Z are saying goodbye to the wedding cake

Instead of going for one big wedding cake that costs between £400 to £500 and can’t accommodate a variety of diets, more young couples are opting for portioned desserts which cater to different tastes. Their choices include ice cream bars, cupcakes, doughnuts and Oreo towers, or croquembouches. The options are really endless, so why tie yourself to the most basic one?

@thefinancebrides

Replying to @Angelica Camacho non-traditional wedding cakes are my thing🎂💍👰🏼‍♀️🍰 #weddingcakealternative #weddingcakealternatives #nontraditionalwedding #nontraditionalweddingideas #nontraditionalweddingcake #weddingdesserts #weddingdesserttable #weddingdessertideas #weddingguestfavors #weddingcakesideas #weddingplanning101 #weddingplanningtips #weddingplanningideas #diyweddingideas #diybrideinspo #diyweddingcake #2023brides #2024brides #2025brides #bridetobe #gettingengaged #greenscreen

♬ original sound - The Finance Brides

Gen Zers want you to know that they are definitely not too young to get married

When we asked our respondents about misconceptions they encounter as young wives, they mostly mentioned the patronising notion that they shouldn’t have gotten married so young.

“I am a lifestyle influencer, so I’ve definitely had my fair share of rude comments! Many people had told us to give it three years and we’ll be divorced. Just because we got married young doesn’t mean we weren’t ready for that type of commitment. Everyone gets married at different stages of life and getting married young isn’t for everyone. But it was for us,” Garcia replied.

When I asked Aleks the same question, she replied: “I knew I wanted to build and share my life with a man whom I admire, respect, who is humble and has an open mind to learn, and with whom I share a vision of the life and legacy we want to create during our time on this earth. Something bigger than we could ever achieve separately. So, all this being said, when I met that man I had nothing to wait for. Why would I not want a lifelong partner to go through the ups and downs of life with?”

“My Bulgarian community is still very much for marriage earlier on in life rather than later and doesn’t see it as this scary end-of-your-life kind of thing,” she continued. 

“But it’s also based on our values system. But I have gotten comments like ‘Did you not want to have more fun before you got tied down?’, ‘Did you have to get married, could you not just live together?’, ‘Aren’t you too young?’ etc.  First of all, I’m having the most fun I have had in my life since I got married. But hey, I guess it all comes down to one’s definition of fun. Secondly, if people aren’t too young to run thriving businesses by the age of 23, influence millions of people on social media, sell their bodies on OnlyFans, lead riots and protests, I’d say no, at 23 I was definitely not too young to make the conscious decision to promise and commit my time, body and energy to another human being who is willing and committed to do the same. Honestly, It’s the best win-win one could dream of.”

Altogether, it looks like Gen Z couples are redefining weddings with a focus on cost-saving, sustainability, and personalised experiences. And we love to see it.

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