The Millennial Wedding Trend Your Grandma Hates (but Your Financial Planner Loves)

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Venue, flowers, guest list—so much about traditional wedding planning revolves around one single day. But there’s a trend among millennials who are seeing beyond the cake cutting: They want prenups (and cake too). Gran may never want to even utter the D-word, but this is a generation that not only grew up witnessing nearly 45 percent of marriages end in divorce, but is also getting married later. According to The New York Times, the median age of marriage was 29.5 for men and 27.4 for women in 2017, compared to 23 for men and 20.8 for women in 1970. Children? Those are coming later too. So it makes sense that millennials—older, a little wiser and more independent—are thinking about how to protect themselves long before they say “I do.” Curious? We were too. Here are the answers to all your questions on the trend (including how pets are brought into the mix).

How many millennials want prenups?

There aren’t exact numbers, but the trend is definitely there. According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 62 percent of divorce attorneys said they’re being asked more frequently by their clients to draft prenuptial agreements. Of those lawyers being hit up for prenups, 51 percent of them point to millennials as the ones doing the asking.

OK, but why? I thought millennials had less to protect.

Yes, it’s true that compared to baby boomers, millennials have fewer assets to protect. But, as the Pew Research Center notes, the unpredictable economy and job market have been a reason why millennials are hyper-protective of the cash they do have. So when you walk into a marriage at, say, 30 years old, knowing that it could very well end in divorce, why not protect your future assets that could be potentially be up for grabs in a divorce?

And aren’t they riddled with debt?

Ding, ding, ding! Millennials have way more student loan debt than their parents did. Add legally binding vows to the equation, plus the $400,000 loan your partner needs to pay back for law school, and you’re suddenly swimming in very choppy waters. “If there is student loan debt from before the marriage, it will likely be paid by the income both spouses earn during the marriage,” says Andrea Vacca, a New York City-based lawyer. “That means you’re potentially using half of the other person’s money to pay off that debt. A prenup will make it clear who’s paying what ahead of time so that there’s no fighting later.”

Wait, what do pets have to do with millennial prenups?

Children can’t be outlined in a prenup, but as millennials are starting their families later in life, their pets are a different story. “Pets are considered personal property under the laws of most states,” says Vacca. “Your prenup can stipulate everything from how pets will be cared for, to where the funds will come from for extraordinary medical care, to who will keep a pet if there is a divorce, as well as other issues.”

OK, so what’s going into these prenups?

Each one is specific to the couple and must abide by the laws of the state they live in. “I often hear clients say, ‘We just need a simple prenup,’ but what they don’t understand is that every couple is different,” Vacca says. “There are many different issues that can be addressed, including how to define marital versus separate property, how to divide it, whether spousal support will be paid, how much and for how long.”

It seems so…normalized?

Totally! While we’ve been conditioned to think of prenups as offensive (and sure, maybe in some cases they are), millennials are reshaping the conversation. They’re less contentious and more like, “Let’s not be messy if this thing ends.”

We all dream of a happily ever after, but it’s just not the reality for every marriage, so can we blame millennials for having some foresight?

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From 2019-2020 Ariel Scotti held the role of Editor at PureWow covering trends, wellness and more.