Best Bet for a Long Marriage: A Cheap Wedding with Lots of People Watching

Sunday, February 15, 2015
Jennifer Anniston diplays ring received from Brad Pitt

Spending big money on a wedding can mean increasing your chances of spending even more on a divorce lawyer later, according to a recently published paper.


In ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration, economists Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon of Emory University, using “an online survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in residing in the United States,” found that the marriages that last longest began with inexpensive weddings attended by many people.


“The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages,” Francis and Mialon wrote. “…Overall, our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s message connecting expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes.”


Those who spend a lot—more than $20,000—on the ceremony get divorced 60% more often than couples with cheaper weddings. And here’s good news for the grooms—the same holds true for spending on engagement rings. Men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on rings got divorced 30% more often than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.


Other factors leading to a higher rate of divorce are greater differences in age and education and reporting that how a partner looked was important in deciding to marry.


Couples might be advised to use at least a little of the money they save from not having a big wedding on taking a honeymoon. “[W]e find that having high wedding attendance and having a honeymoon (regardless of how much it cost) are generally positively associated with marriage duration,” the authors wrote.


So couples might be advised to fire their wedding planners, put some beer on ice, call their friends and reserve a room at Niagara Falls. And start making plans for their 50th anniversary.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration (by Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon) (pdf)

Mega-Weddings: Why You Should Say ‘I Don’t’ (by Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal)


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