Study Ties Expense of Wedding to Divorce Rate

The More You Spend to Tie The Knot, the Greater the Chance it Will Break

A study by two economics professors at Emory University seems to support what Lennon and McCartney said some 40 years ago—apparently, money can’t buy you love. The report, entitled A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration, found that:

  • If you spend more than $2,000 on an engagement ring, you are two to three times more likely to file for divorce than if you spend under $2,000
  • The divorce rate for women whose wedding costs more than $20,000 is twice that of women who spend less than $10,000 (the average cost of a wedding in 2013 was approximately $30,000)
  • The divorce rates for people who spend less than $1,000 on a wedding are below the national divorce rates

Participants in the study were not asked to give reasons why they thought spending more on engagement rings and weddings would increase the likelihood of divorce. The authors of the report did speculate, however, concluding that:

  • Those with smaller weddings were less likely to start married life with financial  challenges, and were disinclined to have a pattern of overspending during their marriages
  • People who spent less seemed to be marrying for love, rather than money, so the bond was stronger

The authors say that their study dispels a myth long promulgated by the wedding industry—that the more you spend on a wedding, the greater your commitment to the marriage or the more inclined you will be to make it succeed. Professor Andrew Francis, who co-authored the study with Professor Hugo Mialon, said that a better indicator of marital success is the number of people who attend the wedding—the more who attend, the lower the rate of divorce.

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