There are certain wedding trends we can get behind with gusto: s’mores bars (yes, please), Ina Garten-themed bachelorette parties (where’s our invite?) and waffle wedding cakes (feed me!). There other trends we’re not quite sure about: wedding Crocs (well, they are comfy) and croissant corsages (OK, now we’re starving). But there is one recent wedding trend we’ve seen where support is split stubbornly over generational lines.
That’s right, we’ve found a millennial trend that baby boomers absolutely loathe: Getting married before you get married.
Wait, explain this “getting married before you’re married” trend: Couples are getting hitched, as in, signing the paperwork at city hall, and making it legally official before they walk down the aisle. Scientists* (*me) believe this is because weddings have become more complicated—whether a couple is planning a small destination wedding in Aruba or a 500-person backyard fete, the logistics of wedding planning—and making it An Event TM © in the Age of Instagram TM ©—are all encompassing. The millennial logic follows that taking care of one big item off the checklist prior to the kerfuffle isn’t only smart, but it can also be the couple’s little secret.
So, why do baby boomers hate this? Well, let me first state that, of course, not all baby boomers hate this, but the general consensus scientists* (*me) have gathered is that they are put off by the optical illusion of it. It’s misleading to ask family and friends to dress up, buy you a gift and—in many cases—travel long distances for a wedding that has already happened. This is a matter of practicality and manners. If they’re going to a wedding, then there should be a wedding, not just an emotional performance of vows and love. To put on a show as if the couple isn’t already married is rude and deceptive.
If it’s so rude, why are couples doing this? Well, for one, many couples don’t see taking care of the legal side of things before the event as ill-mannered at all. This is a generation that cares not for keeping Emily Post happy, but for giving friends and family an experience. In fact, most millennials who get married before getting married think of it as an errand that nobody besides them (and the government) really cares about. And as weddings have become more and more entertainment-oriented, aren’t guests more focused on the passed apps and sweets table than the signing of the marriage license?
Depending on how you answer that question, we have a feeling which camp you fall in.