You have the sparkly engagement ring, planned the parties, rehearsal dinner, and even a family brunch the day after. You’ve hired a great DJ, rented one of those cool photo booths, and every single detail is taken care of. Your wedding is going to be an event!
Wait a minute. You might want to go back through that to-do list and cross off some of the more expensive items. Couples spend an average of $30,000 planning their wedding day, but watch out—research shows that the more you spend, the shorter your marriage may be.
A study out of Emory University found that couples who spend less on their wedding tend to have longer-lasting marriages than those who have more expensive weddings. The two economic professors who conducted the study, Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, also found a similar relationship between less-expensive engagement rings and lower divorce rates.
After surveying more than 3,000 people who have only been married once, Francis and Mialon came away with some interesting statistics:
- Spending between $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring says you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced in comparison with those who spend between $500 to $2,000.
- Spending more than $20,000 on a wedding raises the likelihood of divorce by 3.5 times compared to couples who keep their budget between $5,000 and $10,000.
- Couples who spent $1,000 or less on their weddings had a lower than average rate of divorce. But in an ironic twist, the greater number of guests at a wedding, the lower risk of divorce.
In an email to CNN, Francis explained, “The wedding industry has long associated lavish weddings with longer-lasting marriages. Industry advertising has fueled norms that create the impression that spending large amounts on the wedding is a signal of commitment or is necessary for a marriage to be successful.”
Although the two don’t know exactly why their research came out the way it did, there are several possible explanations. Perhaps post-wedding debt might cause tension early in the marriage. Or, there might be issues when the wedding becomes the highlight of the relationship instead of the beginning of the commitment.
If you’re planning a wedding, though, don’t fear. Even though it might seem contradictory, while excessive spending on your nuptials could be risky to a long marriage, the study did show that a large guest list has the opposite effect. Francis also told CNN, “This could be evidence of a community effect, i.e., having more support from friends and family may help the couple to get through the challenges of marriage. Or this could be that the type of couples who have a lot of friends and family are also the type that tend not to divorce as much.”
So see if you can make that work for you. Don’t cut your guest list—cut your spending per person. Trade the photo booth for instant cameras. Trade the DJ for a custom playlist on your iPod. Get creative and enjoy your day!
At McCabe Russell, PA, we’re here for you and your family through every stage in your life. Our family law attorneys in Bethesda can be trusted to help whenever you need us. To speak with an experienced lawyer serving Montgomery County clients today, please call 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Columbia, Rockville and Fulton.