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Marriage is one of those things that most of us all hope to have one day; and, hopefully, just once in our lifetime. The idea of finding “your person” and live happily ever after isn’t just a dream that girls have, but it’s something that plenty of guys think about, too.

Even if the idea of marriage is outdated these days — with divorce rates higher and higher and infidelity, sadly, popular — there are plenty of different ways to make a marriage work. Some people prefer open marriages, where one of both partners have a “hall pass” when it comes to dating or having sex with other people. And, in some cases, especially with older couples, people decide to stay married because it feels safe, with both partners relying on one another even if the sexual spark isn’t there any longer.

However you define marriage, one thing’s becoming alarming: young people just aren’t doing it.

Is it because they’re afraid? Is it due to all the online dating apps that give them plenty of options to constantly swipe on? Are they too busy with work or personal interests? Nope, it’s because marriage is expensive, and, sadly, many millennials just can’t afford it.

According to WWLP.com, not even four out of 10 millennials were married in 2016, which is a major drop from 6 out of 10 young adults in the late 1980s, showing that there’s a huge shift in how people look at marriage. And, while some may think this is due to marriage not being a high priority, it’s actually because young people these days are must poorer, leaving people to think that saying your nuptials is quickly becoming an event for the wealthy.

Is that true? We examine some theories as to why it may actually be.

How much does an average wedding cost?

Of course, before you can start talking about why marriage itself is so expensive, let’s first see how much a wedding actually costs.

According to CostOfWedding.com, which seems like a legit source of knowledge on this topic, the average wedding cost was a whopping $25,764 in the year 2017. From the site’s research, couples, on average, spend between $19,000 and $32,000, with 50 percent of couples spending less than $15,000 on a wedding. As you can tell, that’s a lot of cash.

Sure, there are traditions out there that may help alleviate the costs — like the bride’s family paying for most of the event — but a lot of those are outdated, so couples and couples’ families are the ones footing the bill.

With marriage so expensive, it makes sense why some young people just can’t afford dropping about four months-worth of salary on one; and that’s with combined income after other bills.

Is a marriage or wealth more important first?

Ah, yes, the old chicken or egg question. While there are some young people who are certainly still getting married in their 20s or even teens, seeing how expensive a wedding actually is has made that decision decline in recent years.

According to the aforementioned WWLP article, millennials who are getting married most often these days are ones who have already achieved some sort of wealth. That’s subjective, of course, but it’s the thought that they have savings in place and a higher-than-normal steady paycheck.

With women being more successful in the workforce, Sam Wunder, a love and relationship coach who works with women, said that most ladies today aren’t marrying for money because she’s financially secure already, but, instead, she’s entering into marriage because she’s truly in love.

“The women of today are not getting married for money,” Wunder said. “She’s financially secure and then she gets married for love or because she finds a man she knows she can share a life with. She chooses a partner who is a match to her.”

That’s an encouraging sign, and might be the one thing that marriage isn’t dead after all — it’s just happening later in life than 30 years ago.

People with higher incomes are the ones getting married most often

It’s not surprising to see two people with similar success, both personally and financially, pair up for marriage. It’s what Wunder suggests leads to “assortative mating,” which means people choose partners with similar backgrounds. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach a girl who comes from wealth if you’re a blue-collar farmer from the Midwest, but it is important to know.

Since people with college degrees often earn the most money in the workforce, it kind of makes sense that they’re the ones entering marriage more frequently. And, as stated above, more often than not, both boy and girl come from a similar background or, at the very least, live a similar lifestyle based off of their salary.

Does marriage carry more status now than ever before?

After identifying some of the factors about marriage in relation to status, it’s hard to argue that the event hasn’t become something that only millennials in the upper middle class are doing. Considering the amount a wedding costs plus how much marriage itself costs, those are are saying “I do” are people who have been financially responsible.

So, while most millennials are spending money on avocado toast, paying for dating apps and still drinking heavily well into their 30s, those who decide to save that money and focus on finding “the one” are the ones most likely to get married earlier.

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