Modern relationships: high-tech meeting, traditional proposal

modern relationships

modern relationships: proposals in the digital age

Thanksgiving isn’t only the traditional start of the Holiday season, it’s also the start of the engagement season when 37% of US couples get engaged, and that’s the kick-off for a whole other category of major expenditure on the part of consumers.

Cue plenty of consumer reports on the subject comes from online wedding brand The Knot, which released its 2017 Jewelry & Engagement Study this month after speaking to 14,000 couples.

And the big story here is that when it comes to meeting future significant others, the internet is becoming increasingly important, yet when it comes to proposals tradition is making a comeback.

The survey found that while most couples still meet  each other for the first time in the physical world, online is becoming the norm for many. Some 17% of couples meet through friends, 15% through college and 12% through work but online is now the most popular single way for spouses-to-be to meet. As many as 19% of the last 12 months of brides met their future spouse online, either through e-dating (19%) or social media (2%). That’s up from only 14% two years ago and suggests the 20% tipping point could be met and exceeded by the time of the next survey.

This rise in digital dependence continues through each step of their wedding planning too with nine in 10 couples using mobile devices for wedding planning activities last year.

So far so modern. But just as tech plays a bigger part in in relationships, tradition is big news too, especially when it come sot proposals. The survey found that one in four grooms report “meticulously” planning their marriage proposal “down to the last detail.” The average proposer spends 4.4 months planning, with 7% even spending 12 months or more working out how to pop the question. But 60% of those proposing still feeling nervous before asking for their significant other’s hand in marriage, up from 54% in 2011.

Tradition and change

A huge 91% of grooms said they proposed with engagement ring in hand (91%) and actually use the words “will you marry me?”, while (87%) reported proposing on bended knee, up from 77% in 2011. Grooms are also more frequently asking their partner’s family for permission (78%) than in years past.

And where do they propose? The study shows a shift away from traditional private proposals, with nearly half (45%) of proposals taking place in a public location, such as a scenic spot, (25%) garden, park or zoo (10%), up from 34% in 2011. But while grooms are meticulously planning their proposals, a declining number of brides report being surprised (35%) by the question.

And removing the surprise element even more, couples want to preserve their proposal moment through photos, and 47% report co-ordinating a photographer or videographer to capture the moment – which assumes a huge element of pre-planning on both participants’ parts.

Thankfully for the jewellery industry, the engagement ring is still a must-have. The average engagement ring spend is $6,351, up from $5,095 in 2011, and the average time spent looking for the right ring is three-and-a-half months, with 26 rings being viewed before finding “the one”.

And “the one” these days is almost as likely to feature a custom design (45%) as not, while the most popular stone cut is round (52%) and the most popular ring setting is white gold (61%).

Just as more and more couples meet online and use their mobile devices for wedding-related tasks, it’s no surprise there’s also a rise in the purchase of engagement rings online (14%). While the majority of grooms (86%) continue purchasing rings at physical stores (with 45% preferring to buy from a local or independent jeweller), 14% bought online, up from 10% in 2011.

Grooms who did so reported better pricing there (63%), finding the perfect ring while browsing (45%), convenience (40%), or wanting to build a custom ring (29%) as their main reasons for shifting away from tradition.

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