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Divorce Causes - Part 2 of 5

The Amount Spent on the Engagement Ring and The Wedding - From Fairy Tale to Nightmare

Bridal magazines, wedding planners and diamond merchants have continued to promote the idea that a lavish wedding and expensive engagement ring will lead to a fairy tale marriage. For example, De Beers, a leading seller of engagement rings, created the slogan “a diamond is forever.” This campaign, aimed at linking the purchase of an expensive diamond engagement ring to the hope of a long-lasting marriage, was one of the most successful ad campaigns ever created.

Similarly, "Bride" magazine has repeatedly suggested that a bigger, more lavish, more expensive wedding will lead to marital bliss. In reality, this notion is not based upon fact but rather upon the enormous profits realized by this ever burgeoning industry. In a recent survey, wedding industry revenues were projected to exceed $50 billion dollars in the United States. So what is the actual truth of this paradigm? Will spending more on your engagement ring and wedding actually translate into a happier and more long lasting marriage? The answer appears to be a resounding No!

In a recent study by two distinguished professors, Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, they concluded that the opposite is true. Based upon their research, the more that a couple spends on the engagement ring and the wedding the higher the probability of a future divorce.

Indeed, one need to look no further than royal and celebrity weddings which illustrate this very point. Prince Charles and Diana's wedding cost over $70 million dollars, significantly greater than the recent marriages of Prince William/Kate Mittleton and Prince Harry/Meagan Markle who spent a mere $34 and $45 million dollars respectively. As we know, Diana later discovered that her "Prince" was less than “Charming”.

Our American " reality royalty" have done likewise, often spending enormous amounts of money with disastrous results. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries reportedly spent approximately $10 million on their wedding only to see it flame out a mere 72 days later. Kim's subsequent marriage to Kanye West cost another $2.8 million dollars - a marriage which recently and mercifully ended after months of vicious public fighting in the tabloids. So too, Tom Cruise's spent approximately $3 million dollars on his wedding to Katie Holmes which cratered 6 years later. Finally, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard spent millions and millions of dollars on their wedding, their unhappy 15 month marriage, their divorce settlement and their recent dueling defamation lawsuits.

Drilling down to the actual findings made by Francis and Mialon, they looked at various divorce factors including the cost of the engagement ring and the cost of the wedding. What they found is that for each jump in wedding price the divorce rate shot up. Couples who spent $1,000 or less on their wedding were 53 percent less likely to get divorced. Of course achieving this hedge against divorce (spending $1,000 or less on the wedding) is virtually impossible unless you hold the reception in your backyard and ask the guests not only to bring their own booze (BYOB) but also their own food (BYOF).

On the other end of the spectrum, if a couple spends $10,000 to $20,000 on their wedding, the marriage is 29 percent more likely to end in divorce. Once the couple goes over $20,000 they are 3.5 times more more likely to split. These numbers are particularly troubling today since the average cost of a wedding in the US is approximately $30,000.

Apart from the cost of the wedding, the amount paid for the engagement ring also has a significant influence on the likelihood of divorce. Spending less than $1,000 on the engagement ring (what is wrong with "paste jewelry") actually reduces the hazard of divorce. However, as the price of the ring goes up so does the likelihood of divorce. Spending more than $20,000 on that diamond ring increases the hazard of divorce by 3.5 times. Thus, Kris Humphries' purchase of a 20 carat, $2,000,000 engagement ring for Kim Kardashian was like a ticking time bomb, and perhaps partially responsible for blowing up their 72-day disaster of a marriage. Moreover, as explained in an earlier blog, this diamond ring later became the focal point of the post-divorce festivities over who was entitled to keep the ring.

The take-away from this research is that spending more on the engagement ring and the wedding does not enhance the odds that the marriage will survive and indeed actually increases the likelihood of divorce. This will come as a shock to those who have been planning their fairy tale wedding from early childhood and instead give support to those fiancees who say let's just keep it simple and go on a really nice honeymoon. Francis and Mialon would agree that such a strategy enhances the probability of a happy and long-lasting marriage.

Stay tuned for the next divorce factor in Part 3 of this 5 Part series.


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