There’s an old saying, when it rains it pours. We all might think of something different when we hear this, but for me, it’s when I entered my early 20’s and it seemed like literally everyone I knew was getting engaged.
A friend of mine recently summed up the three main phases of adulthood — there’s graduation, when everyone you know is graduating. Then everyone you know is getting married. Then everyone is having kids — and so on and so forth. I’m in that second phase right now, and honestly, I love it.
I’m not married myself, but from as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved weddings. There’s nothing more endearing than seeing two people you care for come together in a celebration of commitment and lifelong dedication to one another. With coronavirus, it looked like there was a very real threat to couples all over the world who had decided to take that next step, and we can learn so much from the couples who didn’t let a global pandemic stall their nuptials.
COVID Disrupts Weddings and the Wedding Industry
I start to get excited around the beginning of spring — one, because the winter weather is melting away, and two, because I start to get my first Save the Dates for summer weddings in the mail. That exciting time came and went this year, but with every date I saved on my calendar, it was sure to be followed by a cancellation or rescheduling.
For me as a guest, it’s an inconvenience or a disappointment — but to countless couples around the world, it’s a crushing realization that they won’t have the wedding they always dreamed of.
Coronavirus has changed every aspect of our modern life, and even a powerhouse like the wedding industry — especially with its niche on social media — has faced new and unprecedented challenges.
The average wedding costs couples about $33,900.
But let’s think about that phrase for a second — the wedding industry, two seemingly common words that don’t really seem like they should go together.
Because an industry is indeed what it is. The Knot, a popular planning site for couples, estimates that in 2019, the average wedding (not including accrued expenses from the honeymoon) ran couples on average $33,900.
Of course, this varies by state and by the individual couple, but still. There’s even evidence to suggest that the more you’re shilling out, the more likely the happiest day of your life will lead to unhappiness.
Study Shows the Connection Between Wedding Costs and Divorce
Two economists surveyed thousands of couples in the U.S. and found that the more you spend on a wedding, the more likely you are to get divorced. Maybe this is common knowledge to most of us, but to me, I couldn’t help but want to dig deeper.
The same study also found that men spending between $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to get divorced, compared to men who spent far less.
The more you spend on a wedding, the more likely you are to get divorced.
It looks like the two variables (the cost of the wedding and the longevity of the marriage) are inversely related: the more affordable the wedding, the more likely couples will stay together.
It’s not all bad news for big spenders, though. The study found that splurging on a honeymoon is definitely worth it and benefits the couple more than an expensive wedding.
The Difference Between a Marriage and a Wedding
The correlation stands to reason. Think about all of the influences we’re inundated with as women from day 1: Say Yes to the Dress marathons. Brilliant Earth ads popping up on your Facebook. Eco-friendly florists and expensive venues populating in your suggested searches the minute you start to daydream about your own wedding. It’s only an industry because we allow it to be, and continuing to feed the profit has allowed its growth to exacerbate far beyond what our moms and grandmothers probably could’ve ever considered.
But what is the purpose of a wedding? To get married, right? So why is it we’re being encouraged to see marriage as only a vehicle for the wedding and not the endgame?
Why are we so inspired from as young as we can be to want the following in order of importance: ring, dress, hair, makeup, thirty bridesmaids, flowers… You catch my drift.
You don’t need a big wedding, a production, an exhibition, to have a marriage.
It’s so natural to want these things and want everything to be exactly perfect down to the letter on our day. But what about the two people at the center and the relationship they share, as opposed to the culture surrounding “the perfect day”?
COVID has irrevocably changed the wedding industry, there’s no denying it. It’s mandated that many couples adjust and rethink their intentions. For my own loved ones and friends, it’s been disappointing but nonetheless uplifting to see them replan their nuptials. Because in the end, nothing can stop them from that end goal — marriage. You don’t need a big wedding, a production, an exhibition, to have a marriage. You need two brave souls who’ve decided they don’t want to spend a day without each other.
For me, there’s one small silver lining to a global pandemic — it’s made me more of a romantic than I already am (if that’s even possible). Call me naive, call me cheesy, but I’m cheering and congratulating every drive-through ceremony, every courthouse appointment, and every backyard wedding I possibly can.
We can still toast (virtually, of course) our close friends, iron our sundresses, and send gifts and well wishes to the happy couples. We can still proudly hang those Save the Dates on our fridges and celebrate in-person when the time comes. The important thing at the heart of a wedding is the marriage taking place, and that reminder is long overdue.