Wedding Finance

What caused the last big wave of marriages in 1984?

This year, nearly 2.5 million weddings are expected to take place in the United States. That total, which comes from The Wedding Report, a Tucson, Arizona-based trade group, is a bump not seen since 1984.

If George Orwell had known this, he might have changed the plot of his classic novel ‘1984’, published in 1949. Mr Orwell, who married twice before his death at age 47 in 1950, had left long before the year he made famous was made famous by nearly 2.5 million newly married couples.

But who were they?

Robert Woletz, who began writing for the New York Times marriage pages in the late 1980s, said: “Many of the answers to questions about the people and/or reasons for the marriage boom of 1984 were there in the stories” that The Times published about marriages that year. He noted that this was a time when most baby boomers had reached marriageable age; this generation, born between 1946 and 1964, was then between 20 and 38 years old.

A significant part of the section’s stories at the time, according to Mr. Woletz, who later ran marriage coverage from 1994 to 2016, focused on a generation of college-educated women. And many were getting married a bit later, a change that Marcy Blum, a Manhattan wedding planner, said the 1972 debut of Ms. magazine — and the women’s movement as a whole — helped set in motion.

“In 1984, many women who subscribed to this magazine had the same mindset,” said Ms. Blum, who started working as a wedding planner in 1986. “They wanted a better life and to be on their feet. equality with men in terms of salary, and they wanted to get married, but only when the time was right for them.

“The demise of the hippie generation” was another contributing factor to the 1984 marriage boom, said Ms Blum, who noted she was speaking from experience.

“My friends and I lived in communes,” she said. “But then there was this resurgence of monogamous commitments and the concept of wanting to go back to the good old healthy days of goody-goodies like Donna Reed.”

Amadu Jacky Kaba, professor of sociology at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, called the 1984 wedding bonanza a “phenomenon”, adding that “one of the main factors behind this phenomenon is Ronald Reagan”.

President Reagan, he said, “came to power as a public conservative president”, at a “time when Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, the Reverend Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan rose to power and influence through counter-revolution and the moral majority movement. ”

“Reagan publicly supported these conservative leaders and their efforts to preserve ‘traditional family values,'” Dr. Kaba said, which were often tied to marriage. “Second, Reagan and his wife, Nancy, also promoted marriage through their public interactions as a stable married couple,” he said.

Dr. Kaba added that President Reagan’s platform resonated with the general public: it was popular enough that he won 49 out of 50 states in the 1984 presidential election, “with the ‘Democrats of Reagan” conservatives voting for him as well, he said.

And of course, in 1984, there was another infectious disease that was a public health crisis: HIV. The disease it causes, AIDS, had quickly instilled fear of multiple sexual partners in homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Popular culture has also been an influential factor. Christine Hagedorn, assistant professor of commerce and chair of the business department at Rosemont College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, whose research overlaps with other subjects including sociology and finance, said marriage was a central theme in the popular TV show “Family Ties,” which premiered in 1982. It “focused on a married couple who successfully transitioned from rebellious ’70s values ​​to more family-oriented, life-centered conservative values. marriage.

A year earlier, Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding, seen on TV by 750 million people worldwide, Mr Woletz said, “was surely a contributing factor” that glamorized weddings for some number of people “who would marry”. three years later.”

Finally, as with so many things, a spike in marriages is often correlated with a good economy. In 2021, the US economy grew 5.7% from the previous year – the biggest gain since, you guessed it, 1984.

“In a booming economy, we see an increase in gross domestic product, an increase in personal income and a decline in unemployment,” said Jiaxing Jiang, adjunct professor of economics at Rosemont College.

“People in such an economy tend to be more confident in their ability to provide for a family, to buy a house, so it seems natural that they would be more confident in planning a wedding and more ability to pay for the wedding due to high employment rate,” said Dr. Jiang.