The First Look Report 2023: Wedding Pro Edition

Zola surveyed over 4,000 couples on their planning journeys to find out what’s shaping 2023. This report explores how and why these answers matter to wedding professionals.

By The Zola for Vendors Team

The First Look Report 2023: Wedding Pro Edition
Photo by Edward Eyer

The First Look ✨

We surveyed 4,249 Zola couples getting married in 2023 to find out what they’re planning, what they’re budgeting, what they’re looking forward to, and more. This report focuses on the answers that deliver useful insight for wedding professionals who are looking to meet the next generation of couples and be a part of making their dream wedding a reality.

For a bigger picture of couples and what’s important to them, please check out our primary Zola First Look Report 2023.

The 2023 Zola couple is young, tech-savvy, and ready to splurge

Couples have been inundated with weddings their entire adult lives. Influenced by media, pop culture, and their social media feeds—not to mention the 10+ weddings they’ve attended in the past two years alone—they’re overloaded with inspo and noise. Now that it’s their turn, they’re taking a step back and focusing on why they want a wedding in the first place.

At the end of the day, all that matters is they love their partner and are excited to spend the rest of their lives together. This newest generation of couples believes the wedding is, ultimately, just one (really fun) part of a bigger journey. They’ve been engaged on average for 2 years, longer than any generation before, so why not throw a memorable and meaningful party for themselves, family, and friends

FLR Q1&2

Couples are breaking the mold with a unique-to-them spin

Couples are craving “something new.” No longer satisfied with the cookie cutter, they’re looking to celebrate their lives together in a way special to them and their love.

FLR Q3

Couples are also eager to bring their favorite things, like foods and restaurants, into play. More couples are looking to capture the day on social media, with 20% planning to create content specifically for platforms like TikTok.

Notably, 2023 weddings will be bigger, both in guest list and scope. Two-thirds of weddings are expected to exceed 100 guests and nearly a quarter span longer than a day, some as many as 3 days, complete with non-traditional events and even “sequel” weddings.

FLR Q4

Take action: take the time to really get to know your couples and understand how you can support them in adding a unique spin to their day. Collaborate and use it as a chance to try something new!

Couples have a multi-platform digital planning strategy — and you should, too

When it comes to gathering inspo, classics like Pinterest and Instagram still rank supreme. However, 2023 couples are looking elsewhere, too, like on TikTok and to their very own vendors for ideas and guidance.

FLR Q5

As for finding those vendors, specifically venues, over 43% of couples are searching on social media and digital platforms like Zola.

FLR Q6

Take action: meet couples where they are. Establish a presence across different digital platforms—like your website and social media— to get in front of couples who just started planning. Providing them with ideas and advice on these platforms can empower them to move forward and make the negotiation and creative process easier.

Budgets are tight, but some things are splurge-worthy

In 2023, budget remains one of the biggest stressors for engaged couples, especially with more couples contributing to their weddings or paying for them entirely. Cash funds are becoming even more common on registries, with a quarter being used to help pay for the wedding itself. Others have taken to creatively leveraging credit card perks and points.

FLR Q7

When asked, 60% of couples said they weren’t prepared for budgeting, finding the process “overwhelming” when faced with real numbers reflecting service and labor costs. But there are things they’re most willing to splurge on, the top 4 being photography, venue, open bar, and catering.

FLR Q8

Take action: give transparent quotes to help couples understand your costs and move forward confidently. If your costs are a stretch for the couple, offering flexible invoice and payment methods could make all the difference.

For couples, expectations aren’t always meeting reality

Couples defined planning as “exciting,” closely followed by “overwhelming” and “stressful.” When asked, 70% said they didn’t feel prepared for the number of decisions they’d have to make. Inspiration sources like social media have helped them figure out their style, but also contributed to overwhelm.

FLR Q9Quote

Over 50% felt unprepared for hiring, negotiations, and contracts. But the effort paid off, as 15% said locking in their venue was one of their top 3 celebrated moments.

FLR Q9

In sharing how they’re dealing with stress, over 16% reported hiring a planner, who many cite as “their rock.” Here’s to you, planners!

Take action: help couples build their confidence and understanding to reduce decision anxiety. Consider how you can educate before, during, and after the inquiry process. Provide detailed, transparent information with enough context during your interactions —it could help you get booked!

Finding success in 2023, key takeaways

  • Be unique. Couples are shaking off cookie-cutter weddings and doing things their way. Support that vision by understanding them and not being afraid to offer your own creative recommendations for making the day their own.
  • Be present. Couples are searching multiple digital platforms to plan and find vendors. Optimize your presence across a wide variety, like your website, Zola, Instagram, and TikTok to maximize impact.
  • Be transparent. Couples are unprepared for the realities of wedding budgeting, but it doesn’t mean they’re not willing to splurge where it matters. Be transparent about your pricing and flexible with invoicing—it might build confidence to find some wiggle room in their otherwise tight budget.
  • Be patient. For 2023 couples, this is likely their first time getting married. Support them with all the information and context they’ll need, both before reaching out and in the later stages. Your social media is a great place for educating!

Download a PDF copy of the report

Questions about the report? Our team is happy to talk through even more 2023 First Look Report statistics, why they matter, and how we can help you make your goals a reality in 2023. Contact us at weddingvendors@zola.com.

Not yet listed on Zola as a vendor? Visit www.zola.com/forvendors to create your free listing!

Find Your Wedding Vendors at Zola, All Pre-Screened for You

Even more answers