Relationships of the Future


Today, Aug. 31, The Knot released its recent study, “Future of Relationships and Weddings.” The goal of this study was to look at the younger generations entering the relationship and marriage stage of their lives — specifically, Gen Z and younger millennials, ages 18-29.

Kelly here: as a member of the “younger millennials” category at age 29, I was extremely interested in what this report was going to say. I don’t necessarily fit into all of the millennial stereotypes and really thought I wasn’t going to agree with what the rest of my generation and Gen Z had to say.

The study, in our opinion, shed some interesting and expected insights into how the young adult generations are viewing relationships and marriage.

“As we usher in a new generation of to-be-engaged couples — and then, to-be-weds — we’re expecting that Gen Z and younger millennials will continue to shatter social norms and make their own traditions when it comes to their future weddings and marriages,” said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief of The Knot.

The study’s press release highlighted four main areas of focus. First, was the expectations of relationships and marriage contrast trends set by today’s newlyweds. What they found was that the beliefs in marriage and relationships held by Gen Z and millennials differ from the trends being set currently by today’s newlyweds. Currently, 22 percent of married couples meet their significant other through online dating and apps, but Gen Z and millennials believe they are more likely to find “the one” through friends, school and social situations and only 12 percent believing they’ll meet their partner on dating apps. Additionally, the study reported, “Gen Z and millennials consider having shared family values to be the most important quality in a future spouse — with the majority looking to their parents (48 percent) and grandparents (43 percent) as a positive example of marriage over friends (36 percent), influencers (16 percent) and celebrities (15 percent).  Approximately 40 percent believe that seeking parents’ permission to wed will become a less popular, antiquated tradition in the future. Despite these differences, one area where Gen Z and millennials align with newlyweds today is their anticipation of living together (53 percent) and purchasing a home (30 percent) before marriage.”

Though more are leaning towards looking to their parents and grandparents for inspiration, the report stated that about 20 percent of Gen Z and millennials also look to TV and movie couples for positive relationship inspiration, stating Pam and Jim from NBC’s “The Office,” Monica and Chandler from NBC’s “Friends,” Allie and Noah from the movie “The Notebook,” and cartoon couple Lind and Bob Belcher from Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” as sort of role models. (Kelly here: Pam and Jim forever!) For LGBTQ+ couples, about the same amount say they look to TV couples for positive relationships as they look to their parents and grandparents. In the same respect, 22 percent Black and 23 percent Hispanic Gen Z and millennials say celebrities or social media influences are their source of positive relationship inspiration — outside of their parents and grandparents — mentioning Beyonce and Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and YouTube influencers De’arra and Ken as the most popular examples.

With a wider look into LGBTQ+ and Black and Hispanic Gen Z and millennial couples, The Knot noted that now is a time for change as these couples continue to face criticism. According to the study, one-third of Gen Z and millennial Hispanic (32 percent) and Black (30 percent) couples say they have faced criticism of their relationship due to their race. More findings included, “nearly four in 10 Black couples have had their relationship criticized due to age, while 36 percent of LGBTQ+ couples have had their relationships questioned due to sexual orientation. For LGBTQ+ couples, less than half (38 percent) say their parents are very or extremely supportive of their sexuality and among other family members, only 25 percent are supportive. However, the majority (70 percent) of Gen Z and millennial LGBTQ+ couples say that friends are very or extremely supportive.”

The final piece of the study revealed the increase in popularity of mixed-gender weddings parties and nontraditional wedding attire. The study showed that about 80 percent of Gen Z and millennials do put some thought into their wedding day (17 percent knowing precisely what they’re looking for) and that marriage is valued as equally important as traveling to these generations. Forty-nine percent of Gen Z and millennial expect an increase in mixed-gender wedding parties and 42 percent expect that Gen Z and millennial women will continue the rising trend of nontraditional wedding day attire — stating the choice of a jumpsuit or skirt would be in place of a wedding gown. The report continued, “Additionally, 31 percent of Gen Z and millennials expect that taking a partner’s last name will decrease in popularity. While photography tops the list of wedding services that most Gen Z and millennials admit they’re likely to splurge on, the majority of women (36 percent) are more willing to splurge on wedding attire for their special day, while men would prefer to spend the extra money on music (31 percent).”


Melanie here: As a Gen Xer, much of this sounds familiar. Much to the dismay of our Boomer parents, many in our generation lived together, eschewed traditional weddings and wedding attire and many of us are in mixed gender and mixed race relationships (though the mixed gender marriage part didn’t come for us until it was made legal, so “commitment ceremonies” were the alternative). The differences are found more in the areas of meeting on dating apps (some of us have, of course, but generally younger Gen Xers or those on second marriages) and looking to parents (most of ours divorced) or celebrities and movie or TV characters as inspiration (not real enough). Personally, I didn’t look to my grandparent’s marriages, because they were so traditional and I knew my marriage would look a lot different, since I’m a childfree by choice, career-centered writer. My husband and I have made it up as we go and here we are, 22 years later! I can’t speak for all Gen Xers, nor would I want to, but I think most of us have a “you do you” philosophy.  So, to all of the millennials and Gen Zers — not that you asked for my opinion or advice, so if you don’t want it, skip down to Kelly’s thoughts — do whatever. (You knew I’d work that word into it, right?) If it works for you, doesn’t hurt anyone and makes you happy, you are doing something right. You can’t mess things up any worse than we Gen Xers (or our parents — good lord how did we even survive?!).


Kelly here again: as a millennial with a more traditional opinion of what dating, relationships and marriage should look like (yes, I look to my grandparents for that one), I enjoy my fellow young millennials and the Gen Z generation’s want to move away from dating apps and online dating and put more into a relationship. Though Gen Z and millennials are given a bad rap sometimes, I believe our drive to find a deeper connection while not compromising on our independence and want to travel and connect with the world could create a generation of marriages that mirror the romanticized vision of our grandparents and great grandparents — spanning decades and producing a deeper love and understanding.



Are you part of the Gen Z or young millennial generations? Let us know what you think about the findings from The Knot’s study.






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