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Millennial Engagement Trends

BE couple image


The “millennial” generation has been dissected from the time they were still in their teens. Now that millennials are beginning to get married in big numbers, we thought we’d take a look at how they’re doing it differently than preceding generations. Although they’re not scoffing at tradition the way boomers did in the 60s and 70s, today’s 20somethings are most definitely making engagement traditions their own.

Planned Mutual Proposals

As Mic reports, some young couples are making an event out of getting engaged by planning it together and making it a mutual exchange. This trend of planning a celebratory “engagement day” feels more egalitarian than the tradition of the man surprising the woman with a proposal, taking some of the pressure off the man and giving the woman more control over this big life event. One couple featured in the article maintained an element of surprise by planning small surprises for each other over the course of their engagement day.

A Ring with a Story

sapphire reverie

Millennials have embraced the tradition of an engagement ring, but with a twist. It is especially important to millennial couples that their engagement ring feels unique. That can mean a one-of-a-kind vintage engagement ring, a custom ring design, or simply a classic ring with a personal element like a distinctive diamond shape, colored gemstone, or artistic design.

The Ring Selfie


halo insta capture

“Engagement ring selfie” is a phrase which was unknown a decade ago but is now a de rigueur part of getting engaged. Once they’re wearing that perfect ring, today’s brides-to-be usually share a photo of it with their friends and family via social media. Many feel pressure to accompany the ring with a perfect manicure, and if you search “engagement ring manicure” on Pinterest you’ll find lots of inspiration.  Those who get cute and creative may use polish to make the fingernail on their ring finger stand out—like a glittery polish or the words “I Do” or “Yes” airbrushed across it.

Engagement Photo Shoots

For couples born into the age of digital photography and rampant photo sharing, no major moment goes undocumented. So while their parents may have had a single engagement portrait shot in a photographer’s studio, millennials are likely to commission a whole photo shoot surrounding their engagement, including shots of themselves in their favorite places, doing their favorite things and even re-enacting the proposal.

Final Thoughts

What do you think of these new engagement trends?  If you’re a millennial does this describe your engagement?  Let us know on Facebook or Twitter, or in the comments section!


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Comments (34)

Lacey Parker Says:
July 6th, 2016 at 8:41 am

Honestly, there are different generations and every one of them does things differently. That doesn’t that make it bad, it just makes it different. Unless you can somehow “become part of the generation” that you arent native to, known in Anthropology as enculturation, then you really have no justifiable right to judge. You can’t make character assesments about a generation as an outsider. It isnt physically possible. You can’t know the way we think, you can’t get in our mind. You can say that millenials are selfish all day long, and the product of liberalism. The fact of the matter is that every single person on the face of of the earth is selfish. You cut us down for posting selfies of engagement rings? Or in general? Your generation did the same thing, just with a different method. Rather than using social media they called everybody and made sure that the ring finger could be seen at all points in public. They flaunted it in person, whereas we flaunt it in social media. Never, in any generation, did a woman get engaged and hide her hand in her pocket for the rest of her days. Besides that, what’s wrong with being proud of something? At what point did humility becomes synonymous with shame for your accomplishments? There is a difference between pride in an achievement and arrogance. Beyond that, I would like to point out that EVERYBODY, regardless of generational status is a product of, not only their culture, but their raising. If you’d like to point to a finger at us, I’d suggest checking yourself first. We only operate under the fundamentals and morals instilled in us by our parents and the culture (which previous generations created for us) in which we reside. You have no right to be mad at a dog that pees in the house if you never took the time to potty train it as a puppy. It’s as simple as that.

Ivonne Mora Says:
July 5th, 2016 at 5:21 pm

I relate with so many of these points! My boyfriend and I are really committed to each other and although we’re gonna wait a bit to get married, we’re already planning things out so we pay for things ourselves and not worry our parents as well as be able to make the big decisions ourselves. I’m not planning an engagement ring but we have been talking about what kind of wedding rings we want. I want him to be there helping me shop for my wedding dress because him and I are the ones who the dress is for. Also, I am excited for the photoshoot because we’re really bad at taking photos of ourselves so I want the photoshoot of us to be able to capture our relationship really well. There’s other stuff we’ve already talked about but those are the major points of wedding planning that I can think of. Also, I agree with the who less pressure on the guy for the surprise. I like the relationship to be equal and he says he likes it too 🙂

Catherine Morgan Says:
April 26th, 2016 at 9:14 am

I hate nothing more than people hatefully smacktalking online about some couples who just want to show folks out there…how happy they are about their engagement!!
To all of you killjoys out there, quit it!!

Rb Says:
April 2nd, 2016 at 6:43 am

Goodbye to engagement rings , wasteful weddings. If you are getting married make it about the marriage, skip the wedding. Kids have been conditioned to want their day as a Disney princess just like all their friends. People want to feel like a celebrity for a day. If we didn’t do weddings , what would be the incentive for some people to get married ???? It’s funny how people get so caught up in the rings and the photos etc. Like that is going to make your marriage more viable.

I’veHadItWithPukes Says:
March 18th, 2016 at 6:25 am

This is the most self-centered, clueless generation there has ever been. And most of them are bumbling pukes. This “it’s all good”, “everything goes nonsense has to stop. They are too stupid to realize that social media is ruining this country and contributing to the ‘wussification’ of America. Nobody cares what they do every minute, yet they are constantly posting. They act as if they are the only ones who have ever planned a wedding or gotten married, and they are so greedy and inappropriate with these weddings that it is sick. They want everyone to give them everything they want, and to bend over backwards to accommodate them and their agenda of greed and selfishness. From pictures and photo shoots of every step of the engagement and wedding planning to their inane “gender reveal” parties when they decided to have babies. From the showers where they register for the most expensive things they can because others are paying for it, or ask for guests to fund their honeymoons or retirement funds, or ask for cold, hard cash instead, to their incredibly selfish “destination weddings” and gofundme accounts for everything, this generation wants everything, but wants it handed to them so they don’t have to work for anything or take responsibility for anything or spend their own money for anything. They feel it is the responsibility of everyone else to give them what they want. No responsibility, no accountability, and nothing but selfishness and greed, as they whine about the state of affairs in this country.

Rhonda Says:
March 18th, 2016 at 6:07 am

I seriously do not understand people who have to be so hateful and judgemental about a beautiful event! When we judge and criticize the current generation we are alienating them and ourselves. This comes from our fear of change. I see a lot of maturity in this generation of young adults, and I think any couple should have the freedom to share their joy as they wish. Life changes, societal norms change. Don’t forget you are still living in the present. Support our young adults, and quite possibly we just might be part of the solution instead of the problem. All human beings are self absorbed to some extent. I am a boomer and many weddings in our generation had a hugh amount of pomp and circumstance, as did generations prior! Why is it so hard to be kind and supportive?

RACHID kmachni Says:
March 15th, 2016 at 4:40 am

love is everywhere

balashi Says:
March 10th, 2016 at 5:22 am

“Kevin Says:
AUGUST 24TH, 2015 AT 8:14 AM
This is the most self absorbed generation I’ve ever seen”

What do you expect when they were raised in the age of Facebook, where people document everything from what they buy to what they eat?

Jimmy Says:
March 8th, 2016 at 3:47 am

And from where does this “pressure” to have an engagement ring selfie manicure come?

Sarah Says:
March 6th, 2016 at 6:56 am

I don’t care one way or the other. Looked at this article because I like diamond rings and yes, I have a beautiful one. I did read an interesting article not too long ago about young, newlywed brides needing therapy after all the wedding hoopla died down. They were no longer the center of attention that had buzzed around them for the previous year or two and they were depressed. Sorry to say, because I know depression is serious, I laughed out loud at that! Their solution will be to get pregnant, take monthly pictures of their expanding waistline, maybe even get a mold made of their bellies, multiple baby showers, etc. because, of course, no one has ever had a baby before!

susie Says:
October 18th, 2015 at 7:36 am

I like the idea of the mutual engagement. Really, it is 2 people committing to a life together – why shouldn’t they make that decision equally without a predefined role in the decision (both f which comes with its own set of pressures).

Congratulations to all the happy couples!

Dani Says:
October 17th, 2015 at 9:18 am

What a bunch of old grumps!! Seriously, I am middle aged and I think seeing people happy and sharing their joy is a great thing. People that complain that this generation or that generation is worse because… are just unhappy people and refuse to let someone’s light shine. Stop living in the past and just enjoy the ride. You guys suck the joy right out of the room..good lord!

Brion Says:
August 31st, 2015 at 3:00 pm

The rise in entitlement is not a trait found in the general population born before 1980. People worked, expected to do their jobs, and did not ask for preferential treatment. I can’t remember one job I had before 1999 where people EXPECTED that they were entitled – indeed, bristled at – being told “NO.” Can you? I doubt it.
The rise of the Internet brought with it a rise in instant gratification, which was not evident when we all had 55k modems. But by 2001 or so, when the speeds of the Internet were faster, people became more impatient. One had only to listen to colleagues complaining that their computer took 2 minutes to get them to a website.
I’m part of the “Boomer Generation” – with a twist. I’m Black. So I observed – but was not part of – the whole entitlement thing that happened in the 70s, 80s and 90s, when Whites were networking, but it had not made its way into the Black community. “Network?? Aint that ABC, CBS and NBC?” That’s what you’d hear if you asked someone Black. So, being an outsider, my perspective is apart from most of the commenters, few of whom I imagine to be Black.
It is a different generation, the millenials. On one hand, they are the least racist generation I’ve interacted with. On the other hand, they are the most entitled, too (and this goes for the younger Blacks as well, who behave in ways, that, were they born in 1970 (I was born in 1950), would have gotten them a smack upside their butt and a “don’t-make-me-come-over-there” from their mother.
They remind me of something said of John Lennon: he loved humanity – it was just the people he couldn’t stand. It feels that way with Millenials. One has only to look at Project Runway, Big Brother, American Idol or any of the other ‘reality shows’ which are made up mostly of 20 somethings sniping at the camera about their fellow contestants. The Boomers were new to the concept of like-me-for-me: the Millenials are just I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it. Not the same thing, unless you’re White and have never been “Other” in this society.

MS Says:
August 31st, 2015 at 2:57 pm

I’m a “millennial”, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an engagement photo that isn’t fake, contrived, and lacking sincerity. Their purpose is pointless. Says:
August 31st, 2015 at 10:33 am

Every generation is like a new set of tires….a really smooth ride with plenty of miles to go.
Mileage racks up, (if you’re lucky), but if well cared for, the miles don’t hurt so much.

The people behind the wheel make all the difference…no matter what the generation.
Could have come up with a better analogy, but my point is made.

R D E Says:
August 31st, 2015 at 8:39 am

As a millennial, I agree with most of it. I am not into the “mutual proposal.” I don’t think I have any friends who would ask a man to marry them.

Reid Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Let’s all lighten up. They all seem to be nice kids with jobs who work hard. Let them have their traditions.

Justin Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 11:11 am

Glen, are you one of those people that can’t say a single sentence without the word ‘liberal?’ You realize that’s not an insult, right?

Eric Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 9:08 am

Boomer states millennials are self absorbed for sharing engagement pics: Promptly shares engagement pics of daughter via social media.

Eric Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 9:07 am

There is no way this generation is as self absorbed as the boomers, and if they are it’s only because the boomers raised them.

Julie Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 9:02 am

I think your comments are inappropriate for this story. Perhaps millenials are self-absorbed, but wanting to share your happiness is not new nor is it particular to that generation.
These comments are not germain to a story about a wedding engagements.

Ropbert Bruce Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 9:01 am

Our culture is about the here and now. What happens once the newness and the excitement wear off? The divorce trend kicked off with the Boomers, got worse with the Xers/Yers, and only will get worse with the Millenials. Every succeeding generation after the “Greatest Generation” became more self entitled than the previous one, along with being more materialistic.

Ropbert Bruce Says:
August 30th, 2015 at 8:55 am

Who cares? Marriage is dead in the West for the most part. Self absorbed is the least of the Millenials problems. Divorce is already hitting %60. In our quick, disposable, culture that is all about the self, with very little emphasis on the commitment part of marriage, do you really think that these kids are really going to last?

Stik Says:
August 29th, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Tank you for posting these trends. It gives couples who are thinking about marriage a way to avoid doing things that aren’t meant for them

Maybe I’m just an old Millennial, but I find the engagement ring selfie bit to be an act of grandstanding (not to mention the fact that while the term is recent the practice has been going on for several years now). I also feel it can be interpreted as a women advertising her lack of agency. I steamrolled every proposal tradition ever by proposing to my husband with a watch and waiting several months before announcing the engagement to anyone in my family. I also avoided engagement photos, and the only reason anyone in the public knew we were getting married was because our marriage license application was noted in the legal section of the newspaper. Hell, I didn’t even really say anything on Facebook until a week or so after the wedding. Contrary to what it might seem like, my husband and I didn’t elope. We just had a small ceremony and kept things as quiet as possible because I didn’t really want to advertise our wedding.

Roy Says:
August 29th, 2015 at 11:21 am

Well, I feel the question was about “What we thought of the trends brought in by the Millennials ?” So, sticking to the context of the question is more helpful to the author of this article in providing feedback to it.

Whether, social media and technological advancement is good or bad is a totally discussion altogether.
I also agree that the medium of representing the trend or to healthily show-off one’s own ingenuity and uniqueness or original creativity, is social media and the technologically advanced gadgets and apps. Therefore, it becomes difficult to separate them and somehow the ” new – trend factor” gets sucked into a very radical debate over the habits of the millennials .

Everything has its own negatives and positives. More Importantly excess of everything is bad. Specially, when that everything never goes redundant. 😉

Silent Sam Says:
August 29th, 2015 at 6:58 am

Narcissism in American culture began with my generation (baby boomers) en masse.
Not all of us but most were spoiled. My first grade teacher told my mother that she began to see a difference in the children beginning in the mid-1950s. I was spoiled for sure. But it wasn’t for self-serving reasons as parents today take the easy way out, but our parents really sacrificed for us and hoped our lives would be better. Our response? House them in nursing homes because we don’t care about anybody but ourselves.
Of course, this does not apply to all baby boomers, but I really believe my generation was the worst and owes the previous and successor generations a huge apology and change in our hearts.

Liz Kenyon Says:
August 29th, 2015 at 1:12 am

I think this is great. I especially love the special manicures for the occasion.

Em Says:
August 28th, 2015 at 6:40 pm

@Kevin: Self absorbed?!?!? Because they have technology available for their use that other generations didn’t? Because they are more in tune with their partner’s wants/needs? Because they aspire for something personal, unique, and memorable? Don’t hate on the generation. Or better yet just don’t hate. Try to just remember what you were hopefully taught growing up ……. if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Besides, you complaining about them is simply giving them more attention, which could possibly have something to do with how “self absorbed” they are. Just sayin’. On a side note ……. exactly how many generations have you seen?

Glenn Says:
August 28th, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Absolutely Kevin. There are a lot of negative traits passed to these kids by liberal, entitled parents. It’s a tragedy to see. Of course, not 100% are like that, but in significant numbers each generation gets worse in so many ways.

Mike Says:
August 28th, 2015 at 9:54 am

What makes them self-absorbed? Is it that they express themselves much more openly than previous generations, due to technological advancements?

If that is the case, then you and I are not exceptions, since you and I both went out of our ways to post our uninvited opinions on the internet, under the false pretense that we are important enough to be heard.

I don’t think this generation is any more self-absorbed than previous generations. We are simply hearing and observing others in a different manner (social media). If folks in the 50’s had Facebook, things wouldn’t be any different.

NuriBromanski Says:
August 28th, 2015 at 1:18 am

Clearly you’ve never met a boomer, Kevin.

Kelly Says:
August 27th, 2015 at 6:18 pm

I agree, does every little thing have to be shared all over the Internet? They have no concept of privacy!

Kevin Says:
August 24th, 2015 at 8:14 am

This is the most self absorbed generation I’ve ever seen

rick Says:
August 24th, 2015 at 7:50 am

As a full-time professional photographer, I have seen more requests for proposal and engagement photos wrapped into one session. I get the surprised girl who is proposed to, followed by photos of a very happy couple. I even shot video on the last one. The video and stills could be turned into a video and played during the reception.

Millennial Wedding Trends | Brilliant Earth