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Meeting (and Tempering) the Expectations of 2024 Couples

In recent years, modern couples’ expectations have shifted with the emergence of TikTok “storytime” videos, the resurgence of DIY with new AI tools, and societal and economic pressures. Weddings are never one-size-fits-all, and it can be difficult for couples to discern fact from fiction when misinformation is thrown into the mix.

For most couples, this is their first time planning an event of this scale with so many moving parts. Expectations can run high with grandiose design visions, but each couple also comes to the table with different priorities and standards for what their big day should entail.

Wedding experts weigh in on what we can do to meet our clients in the middle and how to appropriately temper any expectations throughout the planning process.

How expectations have changed

The fact of the matter is that the needs and wants of couples change year by year, sometimes in more drastic ways–whether by budget constraints, inflation, social media influence, or otherwise. It’s key that we take these expectations in stride and provide education first and foremost.   

Most notably, couples are more conscious of their spending in regard to the increased cost of living. 

“2024 couples, while being cognizant of inflation and the changing economy, will seek wedding professionals who are listening carefully to their priorities while being capable of offering them a balance of intelligent spending to allow them to make sure their highest priorities are met,” Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy! suggests. “Sustainability is another demand that 2024 couples are aware of and fervently seeking out in their wedding professionals' businesses and practices.”

Elena Gera of Focus on the Moment notes, “I see a shift in wedding budgets; unfortunately, clients become more frugal with certain types of vendors, like fresh flowers. Yet, all the couples prioritize venues and photographers even more than in previous years and, in general, are ready to allocate a substantial part of the wedding budget to these two vendors.”

Why expectations are different

Everyone approaching this exciting milestone in their life will have some sort of preconceived idea of what to expect, and considering the “why” is an important step in building a relationship with this new wave of couples. 

According to Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss, a lot of the expectations are generational. “I think we are dealing with a new generation of couples, and there has been an overall shift in the way they think about life in general, including special events. These couples expect instant gratification, working with companies that embrace technology and a streamlined experience.

Gera agrees: “We are amid Gen Z starting to get married, and they are highly individualistic and got used to listening more to themselves than following traditions. Their expectations differ from past couples: they want more personal touches on their wedding day and are very at ease choosing non-traditional themes, color schemes, and the line of events.”

What you can do to manage (and temper) expectations

Admittedly, there are instances where you may need to manage expectations. The great news is that couples will typically do their own research, but with the introduction of Pinterest, TikTok, and AI, they may have some misconceptions about what the planning process is actually like.

“Oftentimes, it simply boils down to the fact that most couples don’t understand the logistics of wedding planning,” says Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services. “I highly recommend being as transparent as possible. Outline their priorities during your initial meeting with the couple; that way, you can let them know what’s available within their budget, as well as what logistically may not make sense given their venue, seasonality, etc. Being on the same page with eliminate any confusion!”

For Chianese, it’s all about effective contracts and personalized communication, especially in light of the unexpected. “Proper preparation for Plans A, B, and C is also a tip to be taken to heart, as circumstances can change on a dime, such as weather, guest head count, availability of fellow wedding professionals, and any other potential unexpected changes in plans. With shorter engagement periods, higher expectations of flawless execution, and uncertain weather and health conditions, this preventative and forecasting of potential mishap style of planning is more and more necessary.”

Sheils adds, “Be sure you have an amazing booking and onboarding experience. If it's hard to book you, complicated to pay you, and you have an outdated system for getting details from your clients–your clients are already feeling the pain, and so is your business.”

While wedding pros can’t control couples’ perceptions, we can certainly guide them in the right direction. It’s ultimately up to us to keep up with the changing of the tides, so be sure that you’re communicating openly and honestly about expectations above all else! 

Lead photo: Event by Jaclyn Watson Events. Photo courtesy Kelsey Regan Photo 

Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits