What Your Wedding Could Reveal About Your Marriage
These days, the wedding industry is blowing up more than ever. It seems like everything is getting more expensive—from the in-demand photographers to the pricey venues—and, quite frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming. But is a big, elaborate wedding really necessary?
According to a new report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, couples who have bigger and more formal weddings tend to be happier in the long run than those who skimp.
For the study, researchers looked at 418 recently married adults and surveyed them about their wedding and their marriage quality. For starters, they found that the bigger the wedding, the happier the couple. Almost half of people who had a wedding of 150+ guests reported high marriage quality, compared to just 37 percent of people who had a smaller wedding (between 51 and 149 guests) and only 31 percent of people who had a small celebration of 50 guests or fewer.
What’s more, the researchers also found that couples who had a more formal wedding—i.e. they didn’t cut corners or elope or do a courthouse wedding or anything like that—were also happier over time. Why? The researchers explain that it may have to do with finances, but they still saw the association even after controlling for income and education. Interestingly, they note that previous research has suggested this link may be about a desire to maintain consistency—these couples may subconsciously want their relationships to live up to the big, romantic weddings they had.
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But hold up! Before you freak out and feel the need to plan a humongous celebration of the century, hear us out: There are two important limitations to the study. First of all, the sample size of the participants was pretty small (418 couples really isn’t that many). And second, the results were correlational, not causational—meaning the researchers found an association between big, formal weddings and marital happiness, but they aren’t sure that one necessarily caused the other.
So to recap: Don’t feel pressured to spend a fortune on a gigantic over-the-top wedding. True, the couples in this study who did turned out to be happier overall. But given the limitations of the study, it could also be the case that couples who were already super happy were the ones who splurged on big celebrations.
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The important lesson here is that you check in with yourself and make sure you’re getting married for the right reason—i.e., the marriage, not the wedding itself. Beautiful dresses and tresses are undoubtedly amazing, but you know what’s even more amazing? Having a partner you care about and who cares about you in return. So if you’re lucky enough to have found them already, don’t worry about going big for the big day—worry about going big for the long haul.
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