Who Knew? A Bigger Wedding Could Equal a Happier Marriage
Gif: Lyndsay Undseth Photography/Anjelika Temple
Eloping at city hall may seem like a sign of love so true and everlasting that there’s no need to muddle it with elaborate wedding plans, but new research points to another finding: that having a formal wedding — the larger the better — may lead to a happier marriage down the road.
“We know from social psychology research that people like to be consistent, so making a public declaration of commitment may help people follow through on their commitments,” Galena K. Rhoades, co-author of the study, released by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, told Yahoo Health in an email. “This finding may also reflect that couples who have stronger communities and greater social support tend to do better,” she said.
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The study, co-authored by Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley, both University of Denver research associate professors of psychology, was based on new data from the Relationship Development Study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. They looked closely at 418 new marriages, analyzing the history of the relationships, prior romantic experiences, and the reported quality of the couples’ marriages.
“Most of the individuals who married over the course of our study, 89 percent in all, reported having had a formal wedding. Those who did reported higher marital quality than those who did not,” the researchers wrote.
In the study, having more guests at a wedding was associated with higher marital quality. To illustrate this association, researchers created groups of those who had weddings with 50 or fewer, 51 to 149, or 150 or more guests. Of those with 50 or fewer attendees, 31 percent had particularly high marital satisfaction; those percentages rose to 37 percent in the 51-to-149 attendees category, and 47 percent for those who had had 150 or more people at their wedding.