STUDY: More Expensive the Ring & Wedding, the Shorter the Marriage



    A study published by two Emory University economics professors isn’t exactly music to the ears of jewelry retailers and wedding planners, but it sounds right in line with the mountain wisdom granny freely shared with all engaged couples — “it ain’t the wedding, it’s the marriage you need to be focused on.”

    In the study, the professors evaluated the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 ever-married persons in the United States.

    “Controlling for a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, we find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony,” stated professors Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon.

    In 2013, the average wedding cost had grown to  $29,858 and over the past seventy years, the wedding industry has grown substantially in part due to the rise of consumerism and industry efforts to commodify love and romance.

    In 1959, Bride’s Magazine recommended that couples set aside 2 months to prepare for their wedding and published a checklist with 22 tasks for them to complete. By the 1990s, the magazine recommended 12 months of wedding preparation and published a checklist with 44 tasks to complete.

    “Spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is associated with a 1.3 times greater hazard of divorce as compared to spending between $500 and $2,000,” stated the study.

    The study also found that spending $1,000 or less on the wedding is significantly associated with a decrease in the hazard of divorce in the sample of all persons and spending $20,000 or more on the wedding is associated with an increase in the hazard of divorce.

    “In particular, as compared with spending between $5,000 and $10,000 on the wedding, spending less than $1,000 is associated with half the hazard of divorce in the sample of men, and spending $20,000 or more is associated with 1.6 times the hazard of divorce in the sample of women.”

    In their concluding thoughts, the professors wrote, “The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages. This paper is the first to examine this relationship statistically. We find that marriage duration is either not associated or inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.”


    1. First of all, let me say that I agree with the sentiment that we tend to spend too much on weddings and the money would be better spent on buying a house or saving for the future. However, as a graduate of Appalachian State University one thing I learned was that correlation does not equate to causation. It is disingenuous of the authors of the study to imply that a strong statistical association in anyway implies causation. I can think of lots of other reasons why spending less on the wedding might be associated with The long Jevity of a marriage.

    2. My husband and I married within four months of meeting and spent, maybe, a grand total of $100 – 150 for our wedding. This was in 1972. I made my dress (a “granny dress of dotted cotton for $10), my flowers consisted of a crown of daisy’s, a bouquet of daisy’s and a small centerpiece of roses I received from a friend decorated the table where our wedding cake stood, this was before it became the norm to feed people at a wedding, so we simply had a wedding cake, nuts, mints and punch. My husband and his brother (best man) both wore suits they already had, good friends sang “John Denver songs” as their wedding gift to us, our vows were taken from the book, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran, the preacher didn’t charge to perform the ceremony and other good friends took our wedding pictures as their wedding gift. It was held on a beautiful early June day on the lawn of the church where I attended. All in all, after 45 years come this June 3, it is still one of the prettiest weddings I have ever attended, and that includes some of these super fancy ones that are the rage these days. Considering that we met and married after such a short amount of time, I have to say that we had to work out quite a bit of things after we were married that we should have taken to time to work out before, but over all it’s been a good life and I wouldn’t change it for anything – even one those super fancy weddings that are the rage today.

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