Are diamonds really a girl's best friend? What your ring may say about your marriage

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By Randee Dawn

If you like it, you should definitely put a ring on it ... but maybe not too big of a ring. 

Few things set engaged couples into the boxing ring faster than just how much to spend on their wedding, but a new study from Emory University economics professors indicates that moderation in all things leads to a longer union.

"'A Diamond is Forever' and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration," a new study from Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon, isn't just one of the first looks at how wedding spending correlates with marriage duration — it's also an indictment of the persuasive powers of the wedding industry.

The pair surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults who had once been married to a member of the opposite sex and discovered you should:

Spend no more than $2,000 on the engagement ring
Men who shelled out between $2,000-$4,000 on engagement rings were 1.3 times more likely to get divorced than men who spent between $500 and $2,000. But that doesn't mean you should just use a plastic ring you got out of a gumball machine, either. Spending less than $500 on a ring also led to higher divorce rates.

Keep your wedding costs under control
Spending more than $20,000 on a wedding led to divorce 3.5 times more frequently for women than for those who spent between $5,000 and $10,000. (The average cost of an American wedding is nearly $30,000, according to The Knot.) And maybe a reception at a fast food restaurant is warranted: Spending less than $1,000 on a wedding decreased chances of divorce.

But have a big guest list and honeymoon

Good news! You can invite everybody to your low-budget wedding, and head off to Niagara Falls afterwards. The study discovered that high wedding attendance and a honeymoon (regardless of cost) "are positively associated with marriage duration."

"In 1959, Bride’s [magazine] recommended that couples set aside 2 months to prepare for their wedding and published a checklist with 22 tasks for them to complete," the authors of the study (which can be viewed in full here) noted. "By the 1990s, the magazine recommended 12 months of wedding preparation and published a checklist with 44 tasks to complete."

And if you're too busy driving yourself around the bend planning that big lavish wedding to read the study, here's the sum-up: "Our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes."

Burgers and fries for all!

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