Is There A Link Between The Size Of Your Wedding And The Quality Of Your Marriage?

Image courtesy of Kerry Lannert

Compared to a lifetime (or at least a few years) spent with your spouse, the one day you spend actually getting married is but a blip on a very long timeline. But the results of a new study seems to indicate that there is some sort of link between the size of your wedding’s guest list and the quality of the marriage that ensues. Of course, that data also appears to show that most marriages are not truly happy.

The L.A. Times writes about the University of Denver’s Relationship Development Study, which has been looking at hundreds of recently married people over the last five years.

Among the various findings of the study are some curious numbers about the number of people attending a couple’s wedding and the quality of their marriage.

The couples in the study who said “I do” before a crowd of at least 150 people had high-quality marriages, according to the researchers. On the other end of the scale, only 31% of couples with relatively cozy weddings of 50 or fewer guests had high-quality marriages. For the group in the middle of those two extremes, the stats weren’t much better, with just 37% having high-quality marriages.

Likewise, only 28% of couples who eschewed formal weddings entirely fit into the the high-quality category, compared to 41% of those who went the formal wedding route.

What’s the connection? The researchers think there might be some impact of what I (not the researchers) have dubbed “The Biggest Loser Effect,” meaning someone might be more willing to commit to something unpleasant if they know lots of people are paying attention.

“There is some reason to believe that having more witnesses at a wedding may actually strengthen marital quality,” write the researchers, who also speculate that the success disparity between informal and formal weddings could be because “couples who are struggling or less happy in their relationship may be less likely to want to celebrate getting married.”

But the real demon lurking in these numbers is that even the best success rate didn’t even crack 50%, meaning a majority of couples in the study are not in high-quality marriages.

So you can invite all the people you want to your wedding, but you may still have better odds of winning at the blackjack table than you do at marriage.

This is as good a reason as any to listen Gram Parsons’ greatest song:

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