Is the wedding spending craze over?
Gone are the days when your wedding had to cost thousands of rands. Now, a growing number of millennials are eliminating the budget-busting event.
“THIS day IS ABOUT you, your PARTNER And your LOVE for Each OTHER. not ABOUT how Much Money you can Spend.”
Price was the ultimate reason Valerie Cilliers, 32, and her fiancé opted for an intimate wedding instead of a blowout. After picking a date and a local venue in their hometown, and whittling the guest list to 150, costs still hovered around R210 000. “We were paying for everything ourselves and had just bought a house,” she says. “We wanted to spend our extra cash on making our home beautiful, not on eight hours of fun.” So they ditched those plans, booked a hotel in another city and tied the knot in front of 10 friends last October. The price tag for the whole wedding, including travel, accommodation, dinner and drinks for their guests, the marriage license, dress, suit and a photographer: R39 000 – less than a quarter of the original estimate.
“We had frozen pizza and boxed wine the night before!” Valerie says. “Being surrounded by our close friends and family made it all special. We wouldn’t change a single thing.” Lavish weddings still exist, but Valerie and her husband are part of a growing number of millennials redefining nuptials as we know them. Data shows that this generation is less likely to get married at all compared to previous ones. And those who do head down the aisle are starting to spend less and elope more. So why the reset?
Couples want to start off debt-free
There’s been several big relationship shifts for today’s couples. In the past, university-educated men would marry a less educated spouse. Recently, like marries like. Meaning: two people with degrees get married, which brings a higher likelihood that at least one of them will have student loans. Studies have shown that student debt may impact the choice to get married. As people become more focused on school, work and becoming more financially stable, partnering up and starting a family becomes less of a priority. Tamryn de Kock, 31, was with her partner for seven years before they exchanged vows. “We had a general goal that we wouldn’t bring debt into the marriage,” she says. “Sort of like a blank slate.”
They spend money on different things
Lately, researchers have seen a shift in how millennials plan their nuptials. They’ll forgo a big, extravagant event and say, “Let’s go balls-to-the-wall on our honeymoon.” And intimate weddings are the avocado toast of modern love, providing an affordable ceremony with the ultimate social currency: extremely high-quality, shareable photographs. Yes, Instagram is part of the planning now. Tying the knot in front of breathtaking ocean views? That’s a dope picture that’s going to represent you for a really long time.
They have too many friends
The average age for a bride in 2018: 27, compared with 20 or 21 in 1960. Older brides and grooms tend to have more friends, which makes for a ballooning guest list, as you now have to consider friends from different walks of life. And there’s only so much that you can afford, but cutting down your list could result in the end of a friendship. A tiny wedding or an elopement spares you the trouble.
They need medical aid
In the past, heading to Home Affairs to say “I do” was synonymous with an unexpected pregnancy. Today, a more likely motivator is medical aid. Leaving a job and the benefits it provided helped push Gugu Thusi, 28, toward getting married at Home Affairs. “In the last few years, I’ve been in a car accident and hospitalised with pneumonia. Without medical aid, I don’t know if I could afford the hospital bills,” says Gugu. Even without medical concerns, she would have had a low-key event anyway. And there’s one truth about weddings: this day is about you, your partner and your love for each other. Not about how much money you can spend. “You can do something fun, beautiful and within budget. Getting married doesn’t have to be a big thing. You don’t need a hashtag.”