Bigger Wedding Ceremonies Lead to Marital Bliss

About 2 million couples tie the knot in the U.S. each year. And, average spending on formal weddings comes in at over $28,000. With a still high divorce rate in this country, researchers at the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia wondered if there’s a correlation between formal weddings and marital bliss and published their findings in the report titled "Before I Do.”

In the National Marriage Project study, 89% of respondents had a formal wedding. 41% of these couples who had a formal ceremony report have a high quality marriage. Only 28% of couples who did not have a formal wedding reported enjoying a high quality marriage. Researchers also detected an association with the size of the wedding and marriage happiness. Here are the numbers of people who reported being in a high quality marriage and the number of people who attended their weddings:

  • 50 guests or fewer: 31%
  • 51–149 guests: 37%
  • 150 or more guests: 47%

Analysts who studied this data suspect that couples who take the trouble to make a commitment to each other before a large crowd are consciously deciding to spend their lives together. This practice stands in sharp contrast to couples who drift into marriage after cohabitating and perhaps have a child or two before finally deciding to formalize their relationship.

Analysts points to the higher divorce rates for men or women who have cohabited with a number of different partners before marrying as a risk factor for unhappiness. 42% of consumers who are currently in a high quality marriage have not lived with any romantic partner except their spouse. Having a child from a prior relationship is another stress factor in a marriage. Only 25% of women in a high quality marriage report having had a child with another partner.

As consumers plan their weddings, they’re likely to spend significant sums of money. About 3.1% of all U.S. adults expect to pay for wedding and honeymoon related expenses in the next year according to AudienceSCAN. 60% of these consumers are under age 35. Couples about the take the plunge over-​index in their intent to spend on personal appearance services. This includes dental procedures or teeth whitening, manicures and pedicures, and tattoos. At least 63% of these consumers will vacation in the U.S. in the next year, which is 36% higher than average.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.