The concept of a 'dream wedding' usually involves exotic locales, sumptuous foods, classic cars, professional photography and an overpriced designer wedding dress. Some couples throw in doves and ponies too.
According to research from Emory University in Atlanta, you'd be much better off throwing a backyard shindig instead. They found that the more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you are to get divorced. No, really.
In the 2014 paper 'A Diamond is Forever' and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration, researchers from Emory University's Department of Economics analysed 3000 marriages to discover whether there was any association between wedding spending and marriage duration.
Contrary to what pushy wedding planners would have you believe, an "exy" wedding does not translate to a long and happy marriage. In fact, the divorce gavel actually swings in the other direction:
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.
In multivariate analysis, we find evidence that relatively high spending on the engagement ring is inversely associated with marriage duration among male respondents. Relatively high spending on the wedding is inversely associated with marriage duration among female respondents, and relatively low spending on the wedding is positively associated with duration among male and female respondents.
In other words, spending a buttload of cash on your wedding day translates to a shorter marriage - which is lovely news for anyone on a tight budget.
The study also unearthed an interesting statistic about diamond rings. Like so much else in the world, this "tradition" was cynically manufactured by advertisers:
Another example of industry efforts to commodify love and romance is that of marketing campaigns for diamond engagement rings. [e.g. - De Beers' slogan “a diamond is forever.”]
These marketing efforts were effective. Prior to World War II, in Western countries, only 10% of engagement rings contained a diamond. By the end of the century, about 80% did.
However, the study also found that having a high wedding attendance and going on a honeymoon (regardless of how much it cost) were generally positively associated with marriage duration. So maybe you should invite that obscure auntie and her dog after all.
With all that said, the standard rule about correlation and causation applies. There are a multitude of reasons why couples who throw extravagant weddings may divorce that have nothing to do with the wedding bill. (For example, being rich and powerful probably means you have more opportunity to pursue extra-marital affairs. Just sayin'.)