Ever since the latest U.S. Census showed that fewer people are getting married for the first time in decades, there's been some Chicken Little-esque squawking about the wedding sky falling.
First, the wedding industry is evolving, not dissolving. There are still several million weddings every single year, even with the drop in the marriage rate. Second, it's important to understand why the marriage rate is lower right now, so that we can understand why it will rebound in the coming decade.
Millennials (born 1979-2000 and making up more than 83% of today's couples) do value marriage. It is because they value it so much that they are putting it off until they're older.
40% of millennials grew up in broken homes and know first hand the impact divorce can have on a family. Today's young adults are willing to wait longer to tie the knot so that they don't end up in the same situation their parents did. Over 80% of this generation believe they will be married only once and 91% believe that couples who have had long, successful marriages are "heroes" and examples worth following.
People who get married at 30 are three times as likely to have a successful marriage than people who get married in their early twenties, a fact this generation is counting on. 65% of millennials live together before marrying, typically for three years or more, for the same reasons I just mentioned -- they want to make sure they are making the right decision so that they can make that decision just once. Living together before marriage used to be linked to a higher rate of divorce, but new research was released in the last couple of years that shows this is no longer the case. Also, while the divorce rate is currently just over 50%, it's projected to drop by about 20% in the next 15-20 years.
Marriage is not in jeopardy and neither is the American family. People will continue to get married and the weddings in the coming years will have a heightened sense of purpose, including a return to what a wedding is really all about: the life together after the day is over.
Originally published March 2012