Does the Amount You Spend on Your Wedding Correlate with the Success of Your Marriage?

by TTMK on October 27, 2014 · 9 comments

The following post is from staff writer Melissa Batai

When my husband and I were married, we had just completed our bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, and we were flat out broke. My mom had set aside $5,000 for our wedding, and that is exactly how much we spent, which was no easy task considering I come from a large family and there were 175 guests in attendance.

We cut costs where ever we could–the reception meal was buffet style, and we, along with help from about 10 other friends and relatives, prepared all the food the night before the wedding. Our reception was in a church gymnasium. I still cringe when I see the pictures of our wedding cake (beautifully made by my aunt) complete with chipped paint on the wall behind it. I wore a $200 wedding dress that I loved, and my engagement ring is small, especially by today’s standards.

However, this winter, my husband and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. Our marriage is strong, and we look forward to many more years together. Both of us, from the beginning, were focused more on the marriage itself rather than the wedding day.

I know we were in the minority with how much we spent on our wedding. In fact, the average wedding now costs $30,000!

Turns out, spending that much money correlates to a higher likelihood of getting divorced.

Why Spending Less on Your Wedding May Be Better

A recent study by the Social Science Research Network has discovered that:

“Men who spent $2,000 to $4,000 on engagement rings were 1.3 times more likely to end up divorced than men who spent $500 to $2,000” (Huffington Post).

AND

“Women whose weddings cost $20,000 or more were 3.5 times more likely to end up divorced than women who spent $5,000 to $10,000” (Huffington Post).

The researchers theorize that the financial stress of paying for expensive weddings and engagement rings puts stress on the marriage that may lead to divorce.

I have no doubt that paying for an expensive wedding can be stressful on a new marriage. However, I wonder if there is something deeper to be discovered from these statistics.

Other Reasons Why Spending that Much May Lead to Divorce

I wonder if another reason these couples may get divorced is because they’re so intent on planning the perfect wedding that they forget to plan for their lives together. There’s a lot of discussion that should go into preparing for a life together. You’ll need to agree on how many kids you’ll have, whether or not one parent will stay home with the kids, how you handle finances, etc. I’m guessing that some couples fixate on the perfect wedding to avoid these harder topics.

Another guess as to why those who spend more may be more likely to divorce is because they may be people who are intent on impressing others. They may overspend not only on their wedding day, but on other items, too. They may buy a house they can’t afford or a fancy car just to impress others. The constant overspending puts a lot of stress on their marriage, and they divorce.

My Questions for You

What do you think is the factor behind these statistics? Why are couples who spend more on their wedding day more likely to get divorced? Do you notice a correlation between the amount spent on a wedding and the likelihood of divorce?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon @ Money Smart Guides October 27, 2014 at 8:05 am

I think it has to do a lot with impressing others. Some people spend a ton on a wedding just to “show off”. This never ends and they have to buy the big house, the new SUV, etc. They are living in debt and the stress catches up to them.

I could also see too about not talking about the future together. I’ve seen some women so obsessed with their wedding day that the man they are marrying is almost an after-thought. It makes me feel bad for the guy. While your wedding day is a big day, it is just a day of celebrating your love for each other with family and friends. What comes after that day – loving and caring fro each other is more important, at least in my eyes.

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Melissa October 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm

I’ve met girls like this, too. They are obsessed about the wedding years before they even meet the guy they’ll marry. The ones I knew almost always got divorced, often after a relatively short marriage. I’m sure this doesn’t always happen, but it’s best to overplan for the marriage, not the wedding.

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Jenna October 28, 2014 at 1:00 am

I read through the study and the conclusions seem a little weak to me (one analysis showed no result, a different analysis showed weak correlations).

But intuitively their point about a relatively inexpensive wedding attended by a lot of people having the highest chance of success makes sense to me. The people are the best part of a wedding!

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Little House October 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

That’s an interesting correlation. It could be that couples that spend a lot of weddings spend a lot on other things in their lives, too, which increases financial stress.

Mr. LH and I spent under $6,000 on our wedding because we didn’t have a lot of money. It was a perfect wedding, in our eyes. After we married, we worked on our finances together and made improvements. We still discuss finances and our future and work together on getting to where we want to be. Maybe because we work as a team, and have always done so, it’s less stressful. Perhaps that’s the element missing in couples that spend a lot on their weddings – they’re not working as a team.

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Melissa October 28, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Excellent point. I think if you’re going to have a budget wedding, you have to talk with one another and compromise because you definitely won’t be able to do all the things you want to do on your wedding day.

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom October 29, 2014 at 11:57 am

I haven’t read the studies, it’s interesting the comment about the weak correlation. But it sounds right and I’m willing to believe it anyways, hehe.

I think part of the factor is getting not only everything you want but everything your parents want and everything important guests would want sets you up for an unsustainable (but for a wealthy few) lifestyle. If a few years later you wake up with a pile of debt and can’t afford the nice things you’re used to, it would be pretty tough on a relationship.

That being said, I think the couples who can get through rough finances together strong will probably have an even better marriage outcome. It’s not easy and they’d really need to work together as a team.

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maria@moneyprinciple October 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Melissa, it may correlate but there certainly is no causality. There are – may be – other factors that explain both the exessive spending on weddings and the later divorce. My husband and I married 21 years ago and spent no more than $3,000 on our wedding. We had great time; our guests had great time as well. Our wedding was about making promises to each other that our families and friends witness, not about fairy tales and un-necessary excess.

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Dee @ Color Me Frugal October 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

Interesting! I think my hubby spent kind of a lot on my ring (to this day he will not tell me how much it cost), but our wedding was only $4k. We were broke as a joke when we got married, so an expensive wedding was completely out of the question. I am really glad that we went cheap on the wedding because adding consumer debt to our student loan debt would have been ridiculous!!

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Harmony June 24, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I believe not, I had very simple and affordable ring, and my marriage last fifteen years.

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