By Emma B. 

There are three events girls are culturally engrained from birth to be excited for: your 16th birthday, getting a boyfriend and your wedding. Some of the most famous chick-flicks of all time are either focused on, or try to subvert girl’s desires for these three events. Though women’s roles are expanding, and what women want is growing more diverse, much of popular culture still fixates on women’s relationships to these topics. However, as the CDC reports dropping marriage rates since 2000, and more and more report on changing times, people are beginning to wonder what women think about their weddings. As this curiosity grows, I began to ask and interview about girls thoughts on weddings. That way, I could truly begin to understand the values of soon to be women.  
Prior Research 
Before asking my fellow Lime Green Giraffe members (and other girls) about their thoughts on the “ideal” wedding, I wanted to research the current statistics of weddings. According to an Aaticle by Bentley University, the median age for marriage has increased significantly since 1960. 27 years old is the age for women and 29 is the median age for men. Furthermore, millennial marriage rates are dropping to 70%. However this trend isn’t coming out of nowhere. For many, it’s an issue of money. According to Pew Research, marriages are most common among those in the upper-classes. Another article from Pew Research center also confirms that 52% of Millennials care about being a good parent more than a successful marriage. Essentially Millennials, and likely my generation, care more about practicalities and parenting than a decent wedding.  
However, it’s not as if wedding spending is going away.  
70% of Millennials still express a desire for marriage. Furthermore, according to, over 60-billion dollars are spent on weddings in the United States alone, with 6-8-billion of those dollars being spent on honeymoons. Furthermore, the reception makes up 28.3% of the cost as well. Clearly, the concept of the wedding was not going away. That being said, however, I wanted to gather more detail on what my contemporaries thought about weddings. As such, I conducted a questionnaire, and asked my friends to fill it out.  

School Girls’ Thoughts on Weddings 
The first question I asked was “How long do you want to take before marriage?” This is important because a cornerstone of relationship is connection. Of the several participants, 62.5% stated they wanted to know the person for a minimum of 2 years. Furthermore, about 37.5% stated exactly 2 years or around that range. Only 12.5% of participants stated they wanted to know a person past this point.  
The second question I asked was “What does marriage mean to you?” I saw this question as one of the most important because it informs how young women really view marriage. To define this would be to capture what girls really care about with their weddings. 37.5% of participants claimed that marriage was “the joining of two people,” From there the responses were far-more varied, although 25% of participants mentioned “commitment” in their response. The data indicates that women, when thinking about marriage, see marriage as a true partnership between two people, as a opposed to a mutually beneficial agreement. Essentially, many young women are more focused on marriage as an actual bond between two people. 
The third question I asked was “When you think about getting married in the future, how do you imagine your ceremony?” About 75% of participants claimed they wanted an outdoor wedding, with 37.5% claiming they wanted a wedding “by the sea,” However, it is notable that 12.5% of participants claimed that they didn’t “see [themselves] getting married,” and 12.5% claimed they wanted something traditional. Overall these responses were very brief, and very (arguably) simplistic.  
The fourth question I asked was “When you go to a wedding, what are you more excited for - the wedding ceremony or the reception afterwards?” I saw this as another important question, because it reflects changing views on weddings. Often times, traditionalists will argue that the ceremony is the truly important part of a wedding. However, as society changes, it’s very possible that philosophy may change. Only 12.5% of participants claimed they valued the ceremony and the reception. Only 25% claimed they cared about the ceremony with all remaining participants claiming they were more excited about the reception. Though this may seem like girls today don’t “care” about the symbolic importance of the wedding ceremony, keep in mind all of these participants are young women, with different priorities to older people. Furthermore, young people have different ways of conveying love’s importance than older people. Maybe, for the youth, a party is more of a way of conveying love than a ceremony,  
The final question I asked, was “When you think about a marriage ceremony, how important is it to include religious elements? Why do you believe this?” Though throughout much of history weddings were about inheritance and exchange of property, religious elements have also become baked into weddings as well. 25% of participants claimed they cared deeply about religious elements in their weddings, 37.5% have said that it depends on what their partners liked, and 37.5% of people claimed they didn’t care about religious elements. Since these data margins are relatively close, this indicates to me that the meanings put behind wedding ceremonies are just as varied as people in general. People’s identities are becoming more vocal and changing and evolving, and therefore, weddings should reflect that.  

The Thoughts of the Author 
The data reflects a similar story from the data written about previously. Girls tend to be more excited about honeymoons, as well as getting married later. However, as the author, I’d like to express my own thoughts on the concept of marriage.  
Do I think the concept of marriage is necessary? No, not particularly. I’ve always believed the love of two people shouldn’t require ceremonial proof. Despite this, would I like a wedding? Absolutely. Like many young woman around my age, a wedding that celebrates the love I have for someone else sounds like a lovely thing. 
 Is that philosophy, on some level having your cake and eating it too? Perhaps, but it’s the fantasy of numerous women before and after me. However, it’s not every women’s fantasy, and that’s precisely the point.  

The data above, as well as the individual responses from the survey, is about as unique as the person in question. As such, it would only make sense that girls’ thoughts on weddings are about as diverse as the different types of girls. The data clearly shows that the idea of a wedding isn’t going away. Still, that doesn’t make the differences on girls’ thoughts on weddings any less interesting. Girls’ thoughts depend on a myriad of factors, some in people’s control, many more not. However, I think it’s amazing that we live in a time in history that whatever a girl thinks about weddings, she’s not afraid to vocalize it. 

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