Bridal / Industry

5 Takeaways From The 2020 ‘Brides’ American Wedding Study


When Brides closed the poll for its annual American Wedding Study in March 2020, the pandemic was barely getting started. In September, the publication decided to revisit its report and tackle the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the wedding industry head-on.Marriage in the ‘New’ America: A Pandemic, Equality, and an Industry Ready for Change,” published in October, highlights the dramatic ways in which COVID-19, “the ultimate wedding crasher,” has upended the wedding business.

“What began as a study of what weddings and marriage actually mean to couples in 2020 suddenly became an examination of how a world-altering event—and its ramifications on health, finance, culture, and relationships—impacts such ideals,” the editors write in the introduction.

It’s worth reading the comprehensive report in its entirety—not only does it incorporate the perspectives of “more than 1,400 American newlyweds of varying races, ages, income brackets, geographical locations, and sexual orientations,” but it also features comments related to the pandemic fielded on Instagram.

To whet your appetite, here are five important takeaways.

Prepare for the Looming Wedding Boom

The pandemic didn’t put a stop to weddings. “Eighty-two percent report that living through the pandemic has actually made them want to marry more and weather this, and any other storm, together,” according to Brides.

Couples that carried on with their nuptials in 2020 either eloped or staged mini celebrations, aka “micro weddings,” which Brides defines as “intimate nuptials, typically with no more than 50 guests.”

Notably, the crisis appears to have set the stage for a post-pandemic wedding boom that promises to make up for the lost year of 2020 and then some. “It may not have been the wedding they originally planned, yet 36 percent still said ‘I do’ during the pandemic, with many now-newlyweds hoping to host a larger celebration once restrictions are lifted,” said Brides.

Donni gemdrop pearl and heart stone earrings
Earrings with gemstone hearts and pearl coin studs; $169; Donni

Same-Sex Couples Are Jazzed About Marriage—But Less So About Its Traditions

Brides found that “74 percent of same-gender newlyweds now say they see marriage as necessary for a fulfilling life (almost 10 percent more than different-gender newlyweds who do).” But they’re less likely to make a ceremony out of old-school customs like cake cutting.

In one example of how same-sex couples are bucking gendered traditions, Brides noted the advent of the “buddymoon,” which the editors define as “a post-wedding trip or getaway in which the newlyweds invite friends and/or family members to join in the celebration.”

The Wedding Industry Can Do Better

Same-sex couples told Brides that vendors posed the biggest obstacles to their wedding planning, either because they were downright homophobic or simply because they failed to have inclusive representation in their wedding imagery or made assumptions about the couple being heterosexual.

“Leading wedding agencies, platforms, and professionals have to be vocal about the trend of heterosexual (and white)-centered wedding inspiration, traditions, and imaging,” an officiant told Brides. “Doing this will allow for honest communication, education, and growth that invites LGBTQ+ couples to the discussion and shows dedication to shifting the current narrative of weddings. It is hard for couples to feel that they are deserving of a grand celebration when they do not see themselves celebrated on a grand scale.”

Men Really Care About Weddings—and Marriage

“Thirty-two percent of men see the big day as a lifelong dream, while 27 percent of women say the same,” Brides reports. And this: “40 percent of male newlyweds count making the wedding shareable on social media as a priority.”

In other words, don’t underestimate the guy’s interest and investment in the ceremony and everything that comes after.

In 2021, Downsized Guest Lists Mean Extra Budget For Splurges

“Thanks to COVID-19, 47 percent of our followers are now planning on downsizing their guest lists,” according to the study. It’s not all bad news, however. More intimate celebrations leave the couple with more money to splurge on dream venues, elevated menus, and luxe design details—jewelry included!

Top: Minoan ring in 20k peach gold with 0.39 ct. marquise-cut champagne diamond, $2,600; Reinstein Ross

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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