Money Can’t Buy Happiness

Money & Weddings


And it definitely can’t guarantee you a wonderful wedding and a long, happy marriage.

A few years ago I worked with a lovely couple (Sidebar:  every couple I work with is lovely. Lucky me.) They were planning a winter wedding with a focus on throwing a great party with family and friends. They had a very limited budget and were worried that financial constraints would taint their celebration.

During an early planning meeting the bride-to-be turned to me and plaintively asked, “Will our wedding be beautiful?”

This nearly broke my heart because a beautiful wedding has very little to do with how much money you spend. And it has even less to do with how long and happy your married life will be.

Case in point, this article has been making the rounds lately. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta studied 3,000 married couples in the U.S. and reached the conclusion “…marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.” In other words, couples who spend excessively on the engagement ring and wedding have a greater chance of ending up in divorce court.

The evil industrial wedding complex has done a very good job of convincing couples that they need to spend big bucks, starting with the engagement ring all the way through to the honeymoon. Prior to WWII only 10% of engagement rings featured a diamond. But when giant diamond mining corporation DeBeers came up with their brilliant 1930s ad campaign “A Diamond Is Forever” that percentage shot up to 80% by the end of the 20th century. (You can also thank DeBeers for bullying men into swallowing the hogwash that two months salary is an appropriate amount to spend on an engagement ring. Simply. Not. True.)

Moreover, the time and money spent on planning weddings overall has escalated. “In 1959, Bride’s [magazine] recommended that couples set aside two months to prepare for their wedding and published a checklist with 22 tasks for them to complete. By the 1990s, the magazine recommended 12 months of wedding preparation and published a checklist with 44 tasks to complete (Otnes and Pleck, 2003).” Toss in influences from celebrities, magazines, bridal blogs, websites, and Pinterest and we can clearly see how the wedding business grew to become a $50 billion industry by 2014 in the U.S. In Canada, estimates put the industry value at $5 billion. (With 1/10 the population it makes sense the Canadian figure is 1/10 that of the U.S.)

I recently attended one of the best weddings ever. Did the couple spend crazy amounts of money? No, what they lacked in budget they more than made up for with creativity and the energetic contributions of family and friends who volunteered hundreds of DIY hours to create a warm and joyful celebration. The end result was a FOFF – my new favourite acronym – a Festival of Friends and Family.

And that couple I mentioned earlier? They had the wedding they dreamed of (on budget), then took a few months off to travel. Recently they welcomed their first child into the world.

When the foundation of your wedding is love, authenticity, and heart you are well on your way to a wonderful wedding celebration, and a long, happy life together. I think those researchers are onto something.


Leave a Reply