AP-WE tv poll: Weddings cost cash but most say they're fun

FILE - In this June 30, 2006, file photo, a couple displays their wedding bands in San Francisco. Social media is creeping into U.S. weddings, but Americans don't necessarily see that as a good thing. That's according to a new Associated Press-WE tv poll that found 57 percent of them see social media as having increased the stress involved in planning a wedding. More than a fifth of people have attended a wedding with its own hashtag, and more than a quarter have been invited to one at least once with an online invitation.(AP Photo/Benjamin Sklar, File)

WASHINGTON — #Weddingstressmuch?

Social media is creeping into U.S. nuptials, but Americans don't necessarily see that as a good thing.

A new Associated Press-WE tv poll says 57 percent of them see social media as having increased the stress involved in planning a wedding, while just 12 percent think the opposite. The poll was conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

There is no doubt that American weddings and social media are a solid union. Getting perfect-pictures was already a stress point for wedding couples, with 55 percent of those who have been married saying they were at least moderately concerned about getting perfect pictures.

But social media is creeping into the process in other ways, too. Twenty-two percent of Americans have been to a wedding with its own hashtag. And more than a quarter — 27 percent — who have attended a wedding have been invited at least once with an online invitation rather than a more traditional package of information.

There's an age split, too: Four out of 10 Americans under age 39 have been invited to a wedding with an online invitation. Only 17 percent of those age 60 and over have been invited that way. And where weddings with their own hashtag are concerned, a third of the youngest adults have been to one. But just 10 percent of their older counterparts have.

As the average expense of weddings continues to rise in the U.S., it's no surprise, perhaps, that the betrothed are opting for budget-trimming, real-time options in planning and celebration. Printed invitations, for example, can cost hundreds of dollars when stamps and calligraphy are factored in, not to mention paper.

"You help the Earth when you choose digital invitations and cards," says one vendor of online correspondence, Punchbowl.com.

There are weddings with drones taking footage. And weddings in which hosts find it necessary to formally ask guests to refrain from posting the festivities to social media to keep the party "just between us."

But for all of the innovation, 38 percent still call weddings "stressful." And three-quarters think Americans in general spend too much money on weddings.

Not only that, but four in 10 Americans are very concerned and another three in 10 are at least somewhat concerned about couples putting too much focus on planning the wedding day over the marriage itself.

"They're very expensive and then six months later, they get divorced," said Soraida Cisneros, 80, of Fresno, California.

"When I hear how much it costs to get married, when I look back, I think the wedding's so not important compared to the rest of your life," said Pam Rieth of Mansfield, Massachusetts.

When it comes to their own weddings, 40 percent of Americans said they were very or extremely concerned about costs when they got hitched, another 28 percent said they were moderately concerned and about a third said they had little to no concern.

When it's about spending cash on other people's weddings, 41 percent of Americans think guests are being asked to spend too much. Thinking about the last wedding they attended, 85 percent say they gave a wedding gift. Of those, 45 percent said they also gave a shower gift and 14 percent said they gave an engagement present.

Women are more likely than men to think that couples expect too much money from their wedding guests, 45 percent to 36 percent.

Americans are nearly evenly split on who should foot the cost for dressing their bridesmaids and groomsmen, with half saying the bill should fall on the attendants themselves.

For those who have planned a wedding themselves, other stressors include being concerned about guest behavior, with 32 percent at least moderately concerned about the issue. Three in 10 people said they were concerned about the impact of stress on their relationship. About 20 percent said they were concerned about being too demanding and about 8 percent were concerned about being stood up at the altar.

As for size — it matters. Most Americans say they, themselves, would prefer a small wedding, but they're less likely to prefer to attend small weddings when they're guests. Overall, 66 percent say they'd prefer a small wedding if they were planning on getting married this year. By contrast, just 37 percent say they'd prefer to attend a small wedding as a guest, with the largest group saying they'd prefer attending a moderately sized one.

Overall, Americans still have mostly positive thoughts about weddings. Seventy percent describe them as "heartwarming" and two-thirds describe them as "fun." Women are more likely than men to describe weddings in those terms by about 10 percentage points.

And despite the bad rap that bridesmaids' dresses sometimes get, Americans are far more likely to say they're generally stylish than ugly, 61 percent to 8 percent.

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The AP-WE tv Poll of 1,234 adults was conducted ahead of the premiere of WE tv's show "Bridezillas." The poll was conducted online Jan. 11-16 by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online and by phone.

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Poll results online:

AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org

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Follow Kellman and Swanson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman and http://www.twitter.com/EL_Swan .

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