Stock photo by Tom Pumford

Wedding Talk

The 'happy ever after' associated with the glamorous fairytale wedding isn't quite the reality

US economics professors have found that the more money a couple spends on their wedding, the more likely they were to divorce down the line

About to put a big deposit down to secure the wedding venue of your dreams?

Well don't raid your savings account just yet, because a recent study has just found that the more a couple spends on their big day, the more likely it is that they are headed for a divorce.

The study, conducted by economics professors Andrew Francis-Tan and Hugo M Mialon of Emory University in Atlanta Georgia, looked at 3,000 married people in an attempt to discover the prevailing characteristics that could be attributed to divorce.

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And they found that they can go as far back as the moment someone pops the question.

According to the study, titled "‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales", the cost of an engagement ring is inversely associated with the duration of marriage, and the more one couple spent on their bling, the more likely it was to lead to divorce - especially if said ring costs more than €1,750.

"Spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is significantly associated with an increase in the hazard of divorce in the sample of men," the study found.

"Specifically, 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*."

Professors Francis-Tan and Mialon have offered one possible reason for said increase in the likelihood of divorce for couples spending big on the big day; financial stress.

"Spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on the engagement ring is associated with 2 to 3 times the odds of reporting being stressed about wedding-related debt relative to spending between $500 and $2,000," the study found, and added that spending less than $1,000 on the wedding is associated with an 82% to 93% decrease in the odds of reporting being stressed about wedding-related debt, relative to spending between $5,000 and $10,000. And spending $20,000 or more on the wedding is associated with an increase in the hazard of divorce in the sample of women.

"If wedding expenditures are indeed associated with debt stress," the professors conclude, "then it is possible that wedding expenses raise the likelihood of marital dissolution given that prior literature suggests a link between economic stress and marital dissolution."

It wasn't only the wedding that increased the likelihood of divorce however. The study also found that greater differences in the age and education of a couple, and the reporting that their partner's looks were an important factor in the decision to marry them, were 'significantly' associated with a higher hazard of divorce.

Conversely, they found that a relatively high household income, regularly attending religious services, having a child with one’s partner are all significantly associated with a lower hazard of divorce.

The good news for those tying the knot is that having a honeymoon was associated with a lower hazard of divorce, regardless of how much the honeymoon cost.

The study concluded that the 'happy ever after' traditionally associated with the glamorous fairytale wedding isn't quite the reality.

"The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages," Francis-Tan and Mailon say.

"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."

"Overall, our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes."