The Larger the Rock, The Rockier the Marriage.

First there’s the bachelor/bachelorette party, the invitations, engagement party and then rehearsal dinner. Some folks, generally those with more money than brains, even hire a photographer for the engagement. Then the big day itself, along with the requisite photo booth, seemingly a necessity these days. And of course, even a website designed to share with the world the first time they laid eyes on each other.

Most sane folks would certainly agree with sociologist and sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz who says, “The whole thing has gotten way out of hand.” The whole thing being the never-ending list of high priced accouterments that now accompany a wedding.

Couples spend an average of $28,000 – $30,000 on the Big Day … but apparently, the more you spend, the shorter the marriage.

Before Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon studied this, nobody had questioned whether this wild spending was having an impact on the actual marriage. Well, it appears it does.

And it’s not a positive one. Francis and Mialon surveyed more than 3,000 people — all of whom have been married just once — and found that across income levels the more you spend on the Big Day, the shorter the marriage.

The study won’t be cheered by the burgeoning wedding industry, which encourages couples to spend excessively on everything from invitations and flowers to videographers and champagne. According to the media company XO Group, the average wedding budget has reached an all-time high of almost $30,000 (that’s not including the honeymoon), with 1 in 8 couples spending more than $40,000. As a whole, research firm IBISWorld calculates, the industry generates $55 billion a year. Advertising seems to fuel the idea that lavish spending reflects commitment and promotes a happy and healthy marriage.

Francis and Mialon say one possible explanation is that post-wedding debt stokes marital tensions. But, as Schwartz points out, correlation is not the same as causation, and part of the problem may be that “the wedding has become the highlight rather than the beginning of something.”

The Emory report indicates that couples who spend $20,000 on their wedding (excluding the cost of the ring) are 46% more likely than average to get divorced; that risk falls to 29% higher than average for those who spend $10,000 to $20,000. The good news: Couples who spend between $1,000 and $5,000 are 18% less likely than average to get divorced and those who spend less than $1,000 are 53% less likely to get divorced.
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So, for the best odds, keep the festivities under $1,000, save thousands of dollars and perhaps prevent the financial and emotional toll of a divorce down the road.