The More the Merrier: Does a Big Wedding Lead to a Better Marriage?
As any married person or future bride or groom will tell you, a wedding guest list can quickly balloon out of control. Sure, it all starts out innocent enough with a small event with family and friends, then a few cousins get added in, another smattering of old friends sneak in, a co-worker or two somehow makes their way on, and soon enough, you’re inviting your mama's entire bridge club. (Well, they should have been on their in the first place.)
But, don’t feel too bad about inviting the entire town to witness your nuptials because, according to one study, the bigger your wedding the bigger your odds are of having a long and happy marriage.
In 2014, the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia produced a report using a longitudinal survey of recently married American couples to find out just what is the secret behind a happy marriage. And, according to the findings, big, formal weddings tend to produce more “high quality” marriages than smaller ones.
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“There is some reason to believe that having more witnesses at a wedding may actually strengthen marital quality,” the author’s wrote in the findings, according to The Washington Post. “According to the work of psychologist Charles Kiesler, commitment is strengthened when it is publicly declared because individuals strive to maintain consistency between what they say and what they do.”
Furthermore, the author’s noted, a larger wedding and the “public expressions of intention” only enhance the human “desire for consistency.”
“Social scientist Paul Rosenblatt applied this idea specifically to marriage,” the author’s said. “He theorized that, early in a marriage, marital stability and commitment would be positively associated with the ceremonial effort and public nature of a couple’s wedding. Rosenblatt specifically suggested that holding a big wedding with many witnesses would lead to a stronger desire—or even need—to follow through on the commitment. Our findings suggest that he may have been right.”
But, if you had a small wedding or are planning a trip to city hall with your partner soon don’t fret. The authors were also clear that this survey came with plenty of caveats like the fact that it’s not a randomized sample, and that they couldn’t control variables like the cost of the weddings, parental wealth and contributions to the event, or “a straightforward indicator of the size of the couples’ social network.”
Long story short, have whatever wedding you want. So long as you’re marrying the person of your dreams you’re probably going to be just fine no matter how many guests witness you say “I do.”