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Technology and Tradition: New Survey Reveals Change in Weddings

Without a doubt, the technological advancements and digital revolution that have taken place in the last decade or so has affected, if not altogether changed, the way we communicate, connect and, well, live. Especially when it comes to our relationships.
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Without a doubt, the technological advancements and digital revolution that have taken place in the last decade or so has affected, if not altogether changed, the way we communicate, connect and, well, live. Especially when it comes to our relationships.

Dating today is not what it used to be--just ask anyone who has spent countless hours swiping through dating apps like Tinder, only to feel discouraged because it seldom results in a real, face-to-face personal connection. It doesn't help that every time I, (cough) I mean they, sign onto social media their timelines are flooded with a seemingly never-ending influx of engagement announcements, wedding photos, and viral videos of "The Cutest Proposal You Will EVER See!"

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But the role technology and social media play in our society doesn't just affect single people--it also plays a hand in the way couples today are proposing and getting married.

A recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Best Buy polled 1,000 brides and 1,000 grooms, and compared couples who married in the past few years with those who were married 20 or more years ago. The goal was to find out how technology fits into modern weddings, following the launch earlier this year of its own wedding registry. From the proposal to the wedding planning process, from the gift registry to the reception and ceremony--weddings are now more elaborate and embrace more traditions than they did decades ago.

In fact, 71% of newly-wed couples reported that their wedding was more elaborate than their parents. Which makes sense, considering how reliant and obsessed we've become with "showing off" and sharing our lives, even the most intimate details, with the world.

Below are a few more ways the survey found technology has affected weddings.

Proposals
Rest assured that, although you may feel like there are more and more people getting engaged every day, it might just be that they are sharing it with the world more often than they did before. With 23% of couples making formal, public proposals, 46% taking engagement photos, and 45% throwing wedding-related events such as a bachelor(ette) party, it only makes sense that all of these moments are not only captured on photo and video, but shared online. Today, couples take nearly three times as many photos as couples did in the past. And, after all, if you don't post it on Facebook, did it ever even really happen?

Groom involvement
With the movement towards gender-equality making significant strides in the last few decades, it doesn't come as much surprise that grooms today are expected to play a bigger role in the wedding planning process, instead of just leaving it up to the brides. And it's not just the females who feel this way, as 92% of men, whether they are newly-wed or have been married for years, agreed that men should play an equal role in the wedding planning responsibilities.

As many as 69% of recent brides said their hubby-to-be was involved in the planning process--a considerable leap from the 49% of grooms involved when married 20 or more years ago. This includes everything from selecting music for the ceremony and reception (more than half), choosing the food and drinks offered (60%), picking out the invitations (36%), and planning the registry (43%).

The gifts

Today, 74% of couples say that would prefer to receive a gift that is useful rather than sentimental. And considering how reliant our society has become on technology and digital devices, it makes sense that just as many participants said having tech items on the gift registry is acceptable.

"Just as weddings are changing, so are the gifts couples are looking for," said Wendy Fritz, Best Buy's head of gifting strategy. "Both the bride and groom are spending more time than ever on their registries, and tech items are showing up more and more because of how couples live and work today."

But the shift in couples' lifestyles from generations ago to now reflects not only what they expect guests to give them, but how much they should be willing to spend--with half of participants saying the average cost of gifts they received exceeded $50.

What may be a bit more surprising, however, is that it is not just newlyweds who share this opinion; 58% of couples who have been married for 20+ years agree that technological items are appropriate and, even more than that, if they had the choice to do it all over again, 75% admitted they would add more technological items to their registries--whether the items are a tablet, camera, or even a wireless sound system or smart thermostat.

In fact, 66% percent of married couples--both recent and experienced--said they would rather register for an Ultra High-Definition TV than a formal china place setting as a gift.

So what does this mean for marriage?

It's obvious our reliance on technology and social media has caused a shift in the way people view, plan and participate in weddings. What it plays in the success of your marriage, on the other hand, is something that seems the jury is still out on.

While some studies indicate a cause for concern, such as the one that found heavy social media users are 32% more likely to consider leaving their spouse, other studies such as the one conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found that, of the adults who felt the internet had an impact on their marriage/partnership, 74% reported it was a positive one.

As couples are becoming more reliant on and aware of technology, it's becoming increasingly obvious that sharing intimate details and moments of your life, such as getting engaged, don't necessarily translate to a decrease in sentiment, but rather just a shift in how that sentiment is expressed--and shared. Compared to our parents' generation, it isn't exactly better or worse. Technically speaking, it's just well... different.

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