Allen S. Maller

Expensive weddings increase divorce risk

As a Rabbi I feel sorry for brides and their families who spend big bucks on a wedding ($20,000.00 and up) because spending $20,000 or more on a wedding is associated with an increase in the hazard of divorce for women.

In particular, as compared with spending between $5,000 and $10,000 on a 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.

I also feel sad for men spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring because spending big bucks on a ring is significantly associated with an increase in the hazard of divorce.

Specifically, in the sample of men, spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is associated with a 1.3 times greater hazard of divorce compared to spending between $500 and $2,000.

Relatively high spending on a 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.

Additionally, having high attendance (over 200) at one’s wedding; and having a honeymoon (regardless of how much it cost); are generally positively associated with marriage duration.

Having over 200 people at one’s wedding ceremony indicates that the couple has strong family and friendship ties; and this combined with below average spending on the wedding means the couple and their parents prefer close ties with people over putting on a big show.

All of these statistics come from a recent study of 3,151 adult US residents who have ever been married to someone of the opposite sex and are not widowed: ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration by Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon.

The study also found that greater differences in age and education between husband and wife; and reporting that one’s partner’s looks were important in the decision to marry, are both significantly associated with a higher hazard of divorce.

Relatively high household income, regularly attending religious services (for Christians and loyalty to Jewish tradition for Jews), and having a child with one’s partner are all significantly associated with a lower hazard of divorce. All of these religious values have a positive impact on marital success.

The close connection between less religious people and greater risk of divorce has been found in almost all studies over the last 60 years. Mixed religious marriages have very high divorce rates (as high as 50-80% higher for Catholics and Jews who marry out)

Thus, the evidence suggests that the types of weddings associated with lower likelihood of divorce are those that reflect religious values (relatively inexpensive and high in attendance) rather than the material values of America’s consumer society.

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 850 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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