For A Happier Marriage, Spend Less On Your Wedding

For A Happier Marriage, Spend Less On Your Wedding
Image credit: Ariana Grande Instagram

If the news about Ariana Grande tying the knot with Dalton Gomez has you wondering about the secret to a happy marriage – and how to avoid a fate like Bill and Melinda Gates – allow us to help.

You see, according to Scott Stanley and Galena K. Rhoades, a couple of professors and researchers for the Institute of Family Studies, the success of your marriage is pretty closely connected to your wedding, itself.

According to their reports, one of the most significant factors here is that, on average, the cost of weddings has been rising, while the number of guests has been falling.

How does your wedding impact your marriage?

Stanley and Rhoades, who study “relationship quality”, conducted a study on the size of weddings (that is, how many guests attended) and marital happiness, and found that people who had bigger weddings were generally happier. This makes sense according to both social science and common sense: If you take vows in front of more people, you’re more likely to keep them; your marriage is supported and encouraged by your community – all auspicious things for the happy couple.

Now, this result can also be explained by money – people who have big weddings may have more dough, which provides the material advantages that can bolster a marriage (the absence of financial stress that can spark conflict, for example, or pricey marriage counselling, or at least a big enough house that you can get away from each other for a bit).

But then Stanley and Rhoades came across another study that teased apart a few other variables in weddings, including cost. Most noteworthy was that spending a lot on the wedding does not net a couple a bump in marital happiness. In fact, “those who spent the most on their weddings ($20,000 [$AU25,200] or more) were, on average, at greater risk for divorce.” Also noteworthy: The couples that had a lot of guests had a lower incidence of divorce.

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Again, this makes sense intuitively: Going into debt for a wedding (or even just spending money you wish you’ve saved for a home or a degree) can leave you with a nasty financial hangover that can mar the early days of marriage. And couples that have big circles of family and friends are likely to enjoy all the benefits that go along with being part of a loving community.

Now, this advice isn’t one-size-fits-all: If your dream wedding involves just the two of you, a city clerk you’ve never met, and doughnuts in a park, by all means, don’t let some social scientist tell you how to do you. But all things being equal, being frugal is good and having a strong social network is good. (If you don’t have one, think about how you and your sweetie can get one.)

So if money’s tight and you want to accommodate everyone from your university soccer club and all your second cousins, think more backyard BBQ than black tie. As Stanley and Rhoades write, “The power of the wedding vow is far more likely to lie in the connections and the commitment than in the lavishness of the spectacle.”

If you’re wondering how Grande and Gomez’s vow exchange measures up to the research, we can all assume financial security is no biggie here so, tick. It appears the pair tied the knot with a tiny gathering at home surrounded by their nearest and dearest. So, perhaps we can assume they didn’t spend a tonne on the event either? In any case, the pair looks incredibly happy, so here’s wishing them all the best.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.