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.”