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Melissa Vengrow was hoping for a wedding with all her friends and family, a fun deejay spinning tunes, an elegant meal and freely flowing drinks, a day she figured would cost about $15,000.
But when the economy tanked, her income took a hit and Vengrow, 34, a tanning salon manager in Framingham, Mass., realized she could no longer afford the wedding of her dreams. She now plans to spend about $2,500 on her nuptials by pushing off the wedding a few months, holding the festivities at the home of her fiance's parents, cutting her guest list by more than half and dropping the bartender.
Her experience illustrates a new trend showing that more than ever, young adults aged 25 to 34 are postponing marriage or putting off weddings indefinitely, with the U.S. economic situation cited as one of the main causes.
"The economy is obviously hitting couples pretty hard and making them more risk averse," says W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and director of The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Couples want to wait until they have more money in the short-term to pay for their dream wedding as well as the long-term expenses that come with being married, he says.
The lagging economy also causes people to stay in school longer and to postpone having kids, two other factors contributing to the silencing of wedding bells, says Deborah Carr, a sociology professor at Rutgers University. People delay childbearing in tough economic times, and since one reason couples get married is to have kids, if no babies are in the immediate future, then the white dress and bridesmaids can be put off too, she says. Additionally, marriage gets delayed when people opt to get more degrees and further their education because they don't have the time and the money to pursue both, she notes.
Still, finances can't be the only reason couples are saying "I don't." Just look at the numbers: Young adults in the United States who have never married now surpasses the number of those who have wed. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that the proportion of never-marrieds has grown from 35 percent in 2000 to 46 percent, the highest rate in more than a century.
The reasoning could be any number of things in addition to the recession. For starters, it's more acceptable to "live in sin" these days ("Single doesn't necessarily mean they're on their own," Carr says) and Wilcox points to the "Peter Pan Syndrome," in which men see their 20s and 30s -- prime marriage years -- as a time to "explore themselves and have fun," not settle down.
No matter the reason, the only ones more eager for an economic recovery than hopeful girlfriends? Wedding planners.
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