Study says ‘put a ring on it,’ but not an overly expensive one

There seems to be a general consensus among most Americans that the wedding industry has become overgrown and wedding culture is often out of control. At the same time, many reality TV viewers have a morbid fascination with ostentatious weddings and the “bridezillas” who insist on having nothing but the best for their big day.

According to the results of a recent study, spending a lot on your wedding and your engagement ring does not guarantee a long and successful marriage. In fact, it seems to correlate with a higher likelihood of divorce.

An Emory University study included a survey of 3,000 people who were either currently married or had been married in the past. Participants were then asked questions about how much money was spent on things like the engagement ring and the wedding overall.

Researchers found that an engagement ring with a price tag of between $2,000 and $4,000 was associated with “an increase in the hazard of divorce.” By contrast, the likelihood of divorce was much lower among couples who spent between $500 and $2,000 on the engagement ring.

Researchers also found a correlation between wedding spending overall and the likelihood of future marital stress. This could be an explanation for why couples who spend more money on the engagement ring and the wedding might be more likely to divorce. Going into significant debt at the start of the marriage could certainly put undue strain on the relationship.

Another common-sense theory is that couples who insist on expensive rings and lavish weddings are simply short-sighted. A wedding should be an enjoyable and celebratory event, but it is arguably more important to invest in the marriage than the wedding.

As always, studies on marriage, relationships and divorce should be understood in context. Although they are interesting, they usually cannot predict the outcome of any one case.

Source:, “Engagement ring sizes linked to divorce rates,” Jolie Lee, Oct. 10, 2014

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