This story was originally published on July 19, 2017.
Modern couples are rewriting the rulebook when it comes to weddings and marriage. We're spending less on more unique and interesting engagement rings and waiting until later in our lives than previous generations to tie the knot.
Not only that, but we're also spending longer in our relationships before getting married. According to a survey of 4,000 recently married couples by Bridebook.co.uk, the average couple spends 4.9 years in a relationship before getting married, meaning we know our partners better than ever before walking down the aisle.
This breaks down as 1.4 years (17 months) of dating before moving in together, living together for 1.83 years (22 months) before getting engaged, and spending 1.67 years (20 months) engaged before getting married. On average, couples will spend 3.5 years living together before marriage, and nearly nine in 10 couples (89%) live together in some capacity beforehand. (We're guessing financial reasons are behind the decision for many couples.)
We're also getting married far later in life now than the previous generation, with the average first-time bride now 30.8 and groom 32.7 years old, compared with 22.6 and 24.6 years old in 1971, respectively. These days, the average bride and groom will also have had two serious relationships before settling down.
People's attitudes toward marriage are also considerably different now compared with previous generations'. We don't feel compelled to tie the knot, unlike many of our parents, with 83% saying they felt no pressure to marry and 84% having discussed it before the proposal.
The vast majority (91%) said they got married to show their commitment, while barely any did so due to social pressure (2%), financial reasons (2%), or out of convenience (2%), which shows how far society has come in just a few decades.
An even greater number of the couples (95%) would recommend marriage and 85% said it makes a relationship stronger, which is heartening but also unsurprising given that the couples were in the honeymoon phase of their marriages. Most also said they'd become more committed to each other since getting married (80%) and that they were happier (60%).
Hamish Shephard, founder of Bridebook.co.uk, said the findings were evidence that "marriages are becoming stronger than ever, relationships happier and more committed than ever, and couples more independent and consensual in their decisions than ever."
We'd almost be sold on the idea of heading to the altar ourselves – if it weren't for the average U.S. wedding costing $35,329.