Millennial Generation Adopts New Traditions Expressing a Return to the Core Values of Marriage

Oct 21, 2010, 14:51 ET from Platinum Guild International

NEW YORK, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- From male engagement rings to weddings that give back, today's Millennial Generation is taking an unconventional eye to their engagements and weddings to reflect a renewed emphasis on the core values of marriage.  

It's long been known that the average age of couples getting married has steadily increased since the 1960s, as subsequent generations reprioritized their career and family expectations.  For today's Millennial Generation, only 12% are currently married with children, compared to 50% of the Baby Boomer Generation at the same age (Pew Research Center, 'Portrait of the Millennials,' February 2010).  The reasoning behind this trend is changing, however.  While Generation X cited career growth as the primary reason behind their delay in marriage, studies show that Millennials actually value marriage above career and financial success (Pew Research Center, 'Portrait of the Millennials,' February 2010).  Instead, today's couples are focused on finding the right person to spend the rest of their life with, showing a greater emphasis on marriage as a lifelong commitment.  

With this evolving mindset on relationships and marriage comes a changed perspective on the traditional wedding, as couples look for new ways to express their belief in marriage as a joint commitment.

"Women are proposing, men are wearing engagement bands, and couples are walking the aisle together," notes bridal expert Alison Rowe.  "Though it seems like today's couples are trumping tradition, they're really just reinventing it.  They're taking the good parts – commitment and partnership – and expressing them in new ways."

One of the areas most strongly impacted is the proposal.  There is a growing trend towards male engagement rings, or "mengagement rings," as an increasing number of men choose to show they're "taken" alongside their brides-to-be.  Summarized concisely by husband-to-be Bennett Konesni for the New York Times, "In this day and age, we have an equal partnership in this relationship — we're in it together.  It seems weird to have an imbalance, to say to Edith [his fiance], 'You have to wear a ring to keep those guys away, but I get to go around as if I've not made a major life commitment' ("Men's Engagement Rings Proclaim, 'He's Taken,' July 30, 2010).

Couples are embracing new traditions during the ceremony as well, as greater focus is now placed on the sanctity of the commitment rather than disposable items, such as flowers or favors.  According to a recent CNN article, "The charitable wedding: 'I give' instead of 'I do,'" many couples are using their weddings as an opportunity to give back to a charity or organization in need. Couples are also scaling back their guest lists and choosing to invite only their closest friends and family members.  According to The Wedding Report, Inc., guest lists have dropped from an average of 166 guests in 2007 to 138 guests in 2010.

Sara Meyer, a New York-based bride-to-be, says she and her fiance, Danny, have prioritized their wedding and reception elements, choosing to incorporate the cultural traditions and causes that matter most to them. "Danny and I want our wedding to represent the love and commitment we share, and we don't need a lavish party or fancy gifts to do that," said Meyer.  The couple plans to exchange vows while surrounded by only their families and closest friends.  They are also encouraging their guests to make charitable donations in lieu of wedding gifts. "We feel our wedding plan will allow us to celebrate our new life together, while also staying grounded," said Meyer.

Millennials are also looking to their heritage as a means of reinforcing their commitment to the core values of marriage.  Rebecca Edell Epstein, an NYC-based event planner and Millennial bride, chose to pay homage to her family's history by getting married with the same platinum engagement ring that was worn by her great-grandmother generations ago. Her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, received the engagement ring from her own mother, Epstein's great grandmother, before being separated from her family and placed in a concentration camp.

She wore the ring throughout her own marriage, and eventually gifted it to Epstein and her husband, Adam, when they decided to start their new life together.  With a setting in platinum, the most durable of all precious metals, the ring has withstood several generations and life experiences, serving as a daily reminder of the importance of love and family.  "My engagement ring tells my family's stories of love, loss, survival and new beginnings," said Epstein.  "Knowing that it has been passed down from previous generations carrying such amazing stories - and that it will continue to transcend to future generations carrying new stories of my family's love, life and new beginnings - makes it beyond priceless in value and beauty."

For more information or to speak with bridal expert, Alison Rowe, about wedding trends, please contact

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