A growing number of couples are opting out of wedding parties. According to The New York Times, the increased personalization of weddings in the last 25 years has given rise to partyless weddings regardless of the wedding’s size or theme.
“It’s part of this whole trajectory of weddings becoming more personalized,” said Marcy Blum to the Times. Blum is the founder of New York event planning firm Marcy Blum Associates. “That started 20, 25 years ago.”
Blum says wedding personalization has increased over the past five years due to the shift in couples’ ages. Millennials, who are now arguably between the ages of 25 and 35, are now the main target audience in the wedding industry.
“Now,” said Blum, “every single thing is up for question.”
The shift for partyless weddings may be more than personalization. According to the The Huffington Post, wedding parties can be surprisingly expensive with bridesmaids dresses costing $300 each on average. Considering the price of wedding gifts and anniversary gifts later on (crystal is the traditional gift for a couple’s 15th wedding anniversary), being in the wedding party can mean a big obligation.
Blum also says partyless weddings may make it easier for couples who have children. “For couples who are 30 and over,” she said, “I’d say it’s about a 50-50 chance that they have a wedding party. “Over 30, a lot of friends are pregnant. They have kids. It becomes much more of a to-do.”
Tiffany Mahmood and Sean Flatow, a couple who were married in August 2017, said they chose not to have a wedding party because they wanted their 150 guests to enjoy themselves. “I feel like there’s always a little friction when it comes [bridal parties],” said Mahmood.
The stress involved in wedding planning and the high expectations involved in the ceremony have been known to break friendships between brides and bridesmaids. Brides often rely on bridesmaids to be there for them during appointments and other events leading up to the wedding.
However, as many as 35% of bridesmaids live in a different state than the bride and 23% live in a different town. The cost of transportation, participating in pre-wedding events, and paying for dresses on top of gifts can take a toll on bride-bridesmaids’ relationships.
According to Dr. Angela L. Thompson of Texas Christian University, the average cost of being a bridesmaid is as high as $1,200 to $1,800. There’s a reason why the wedding industry, compared to the net worth of the LTL market at $35 billion, is worth $53.4 billion.
“And the cost has gone up,” Dr. Thompson said. “The addition of destination bachelorette parties, in particular, has had an impact, there can be huge variations depending on if you’re a local bridesmaid, or if you’re from out of town.”
An estimated 49% of event planners use the internet to find venues and many brides are choosing venues that aren’t local. For only four to five hour celebration, Dr. Thompson says, it’s a huge commitment to ask of bridesmaid or groomsman.
The partyless wedding reduces stress and the number of obligations placed on party members. It also gets rid of the separation between wedding parties and wedding guests, which reduces the risk of offending loved ones.
What’s more, wedding couples can find ways to incorporate close friends and family members into the ceremony without a wedding party. “You can have friends be ushers,” said Blum. “Or have them walk down the aisle and sit down. Do readings. There are endless variations.”