Weddings: Are we ready for the Millennials?

In a bid to keep their fingers on the pulse, Guvon Hotels keep a close eye on international wedding trends. In this article Christa Badenhorst looks at the Millennial generation.

Often thought of as the selfie-generation, Millennials are now reaching marriageable age. Wikipedia quotes the Millennial age range to be birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Not only do hotels need to eat-live-sleep Social Media in order to communicate with this new breed of easy-going, techno-savvy kids, but unless we spruce up our offering, we may just lose their interest.

Fortune Magazine describes Millennials as “more informed, civically-engaged, and open-minded than conventional wisdom might lead you to believe,” and continues to state that social media is integral to their lives and relationships. Is the hotel industry successfully adapting its wedding offering for this market – and how do trends impact on our future relationship with the Millennial bride and groom?

While the Guvon Hotels properties provide the basis for glorious weddings with a diversity of backdrops ranging from golf course scenery to photogenic photo opportunities with two elephant at its Big 5 Game Lodge, we also actively encourage our brides to explore their creativity for their wedding function.

With this in mind, a fresh look at international wedding trends and the needs of Millennials are in order. Huffington Post (HP) recently commented on décor colours, dress styles and flower choices, but what peaks the interest of hoteliers and hotel marketers is the inspiration surrounding venue and food choices.


Liene Steven reports on that Millennials want to collaborate instead of being told what to do. The way we need to address our future clients has to change. Forget the groom and he may just forget your wedding venue.

Rustic Chic is a trend that seems to be with us not only for 2015, but is also predicted to wade well into 2016. Mason jars and lace is still all the rage, but HP predicts that burlap table cloths will be replaced by white linen, staying with the rustic chic look, but adding a touch of elegance.

The Millennial generation wants custom made and creativity. DIY is a creative outlet and bridal couples are actively involved in every step of the way. Belinda Cooper recently married her muso-sweetheart Andy Maritz at Kloofzicht Lodge & Spa and managed to capture a few of the wedding trends in one go: her exquisite wedding featured rustic chic décor with a touch of elegance.


Beautiful informal bouquets were juxtaposed with ladders and old leather suitcases. Old-fashioned books were parading next to single Proteas in mason jars and glass containers. The effect? A relaxed, elegant set up.

A simple hunger–busting menu of gourmet craft food – main course of gourmet burgers, French fries and onion rings – were served, and guests loved it, according to the new Mrs Maritz. A choice of beef and chicken gourmet burgers, finished with caramelised onion and pickles seemed to hit the right spot.

Formal ceremonies are falling by the wayside in America, but in South Africa it still has a stronghold. Cocktail receptions are reportedly becoming more popular. Whether it is a budget concern, or just a step towards less formal and more relaxed as with the Cooper – Maritz wedding, beautiful bite size morsels are being presented all night long, and often in scenic areas with views over dams, mountains or a golf course. Instead of spending money on tables, décor and chairs, the Millennial would much rather spend money on travelling and having an extended honeymoon to an exotic destination.


Most hoteliers probably shudder at the thought of couples looking at alternative spaces, but research shows that couples are turning to restaurants, museums and open spaces for their wedding celebrations. This certainly challenges the hotel industry in adapting their spaces. At Askari Game Lodge & Spa, forest weddings are increasing in popularity and brides are strolling down the tree lined forest path to meet up with family and friends for a blessing in a serene forest environment.

Whether your clients dream wedding takes place in a forest with hippo and elephant in the background, or in a chic city hotel with expansive golfing greens, Guvon Hotels & Spas has the perfect wedding venue for them. Options include country elegance at Glenburn Lodge and Kloofzicht Lodge & Spa, Big 5 excitement at Askari Game Lodge & Spa, a destination wedding at Umbhaba Lodge in Hazyview or an Out of Africa camping experience at Bush Willow Tented Camp.

The Millennials have spoken and the trends are shifting. Are hotels ready to adapt to this new and very lucrative market? Do our menus sport gourmet craft food, or are we stuck with the old-fashioned buffet style food? Are we offering the stretches of beautiful lawns overlooking waterfalls and dams as wedding venues, or are we pushing couples into banqueting halls? Does your hotel have an extensive craft beer selection? If not, it’s time to regroup and have a little chat about future offerings.

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