Friday, November 28, 2014

Interesting Wedding Data by Roz Denny Fox




Does a big Wedding Mean the Couple Will Have a Good Marriage?

A few months ago I saw this topic discussed on TV. It generated a lively discussion and one speaker cited a blog by: http://www.dearwendy.com . It sounded like something a romance writer should know so I decided to check further. The blog started by saying that weddings with 150 or more guests ensure the couple has a good marriage. There were some other qualifiers, such as the couple shouldn’t have slept with a lot of other people before settling down to marriage. The majority of the information came from a study done of 418 people, all single, all between the ages of 18 and 40. The study carried out by The University of Denver in 2007 and 2008 was called: the Relations Development Study. Their aim was to identify patterns of behavior that set people up for successful and fulfilling marriages.

The blogger wondered why the study hadn’t been done on couples who had been married more than a few years. I tend to agree. But the study utilized singles. The result over the two years was that 11% didn’t have a formal wedding ceremony and 28% of those couples had a high-quality marriage. And 41% of couples who had formal weddings achieved high-quality marriages.

The researchers speculated that couples who were not as happy in their relationship were less likely to celebrate being married.  They concluded that couples taking the time to have a public ceremony symbolized a clearer decision to commit to their marriage. They further deduced the bigger the guest list the bigger the commitment. The study found that 47% of couples with 150 or more wedding guests had higher-quality marriages than those (31%) who had 50 or fewer guests. I’m no mathematician, but the statistic they gave was 52% of those having a big wedding were more likely to have happier marriages than couples who had smaller weddings. They also claimed that the more witnesses a couple had at their ceremony, put pressure on them to keep their vows.

Now blogger, Wendy, remained skeptical as do I. She said the study didn’t say how many of the 418 original unmarried actually got married. And if their weddings took place any time over the 2 years of the study, some started out with more time in their marriage than others. I found it interesting that anyone would wonder enough about size of wedding equaling happiness to do a study. But groups study a lot of things. As I delved into this subject I ran across another study that asked if married people were happier than singles. According to psychologists and a study done by the Pew Research Center, the answer is yes. That, too, I found in a blog by Evan Marc Katz

The Pew Study said 43% of married respondents to their survey were “very happy” compared to 24% of unmarried individuals. Katz also investigated studies done by Michigan State University and the University of Florida which led him to think some people report being happier at the start of a marriage, but those happiness levels gradually return to premarital state. But he concluded from the reports that marriage won’t magically create happiness, and those entering marriage with high expectations for the marriage to transform their lives, need relationship skills to match. Katz is a dating coach. I found his site really interesting. To see more on this subject, and to read the many comments he received you can go to: www.evanmarckatz.com/blog.

All the digging I did made me wonder why I rarely give my story couples a big wedding. Most have small, intimate circles of friends who attend their joyous moment. Do you write about one more than the other?
 

29 comments:

  1. Interesting question! I think, looking back, my couples tend to have biggish weddings, but they're informal and fun--in McGuffey's, the clothes came from consignment shops and nothing matched.

    I also wonder, in polls, do people give a lot of thought to responses, or do they respond according to how they feel that particular day?

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    1. Liz, that's a good point that the pollsters ask people on the fly a question and they pop off an answer.

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  2. In "Just Like Em" the couple had an intimate wedding with family between the last chapter and the epilog. Maybe less than 50 people. In “An Act of Love” the couple is heading to Las Vegas to get married. I don’t care what the statistics say – both couples in my books were going into a marriage that would last. The whole premise of a marriage lasting longer based on the number of people who attend the wedding sounds like pure poppycock.

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    1. I thought it sounded outside the norm, too. But it got a lot of buzz on legitimate news programs on TV. However, it may have been a slow news week. LOL

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  3. As always, Roz, you come up with very interesting subject material.

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  4. Roz, what an incredibly interesting post! I'm skeptical about some of the studies too. There are so many variables that can come into play. For example, a big wedding could consist of tons of people who are merely acquaintances invited 'for show'...or it could be all family/relatives and friends. With the latter, I could see the marriage lasting because the couple is technically part of a larger family/support group. So it wouldn't be about the wedding size, but about the attendees. Just thinking out loud here ;).

    And take two people who are fated to be together...true loves...and it wouldn't matter if they eloped. I think what Katz says makes sense.

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  5. Rula, I can't agree more. I believe it's more about the compatibility of the couple than about their friends. Although someone said to me, who the H & H pal around with says a lot about who they are.

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  6. Does all that data mean I'm in trouble? My husband and I got married by a JP and didn't tell a soul for over 2 weeks. His reasoning was that he'd had a huge wedding with his high school sweetheart at the age of 19 and the marriage lasted less than a year. My reasoning was that all my family was 3 states away and hated him anyway, so why bother with a wedding? He always says our small private ceremony meant a lot more to him than a big fancy wedding did. That was 23 years ago.

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    1. See, LeAnne, I think your history outweighs all the data.

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  7. Roz, you come up with the most thought-provoking information! It's odd that they polled single people, but maybe they were looking for an 'outside' view. We had about a 100 attendees at our wedding - not sure if that qualifies as big or not - but probably 60% were family and the others were dear friends and people we worked with closely. Forty-six years later - everyone involved who is still here, is still important to us. But we're here together because of what we mean to each other, not to them. Would be fun to create a hero or heroine who took such a poll and tries to make use of it somehow.

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    1. Muriel, you always think of such good ideas. Let me know if you figure out how it might work in a book. Unless heroine is a by-the-list-type personality and he's a whatever-laid-back hero.

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  8. It is an interesting question, but, as you've said, there seems to be a lot of variables missing from the study.
    With a larger wedding and more witnesses, provided that the people attending your wedding are part of your circle and not your father's business associates, I can see where you'd be less likely to stray from your community.
    On the other hand, my grandparents got married by a JP before he shipped out, (WWII) and they were ridiculously, deliriously happy for decades.
    Hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!

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    1. Shannon, and all of my close friends said because I married a "stranger" who wasn't in our town, our circle of former school friends, etc, that my marriage would never last. We had 51 years before Denny died, and many of my friends who went to my parents with objections are on 3rd marriages.

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  9. I used to teach high school classes on healthy relationships, and I am still amazed that any marriage survives. :-) I'm suspect of the study you cited as well. Great post.

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    1. Pat, I think studies need to poll a broader range of people to get any kind of accurate results, and even then it could be that someone pops off an answer without a lot of thought.

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  10. Roz, I think we had right around 150 at the wedding -- the limit on size was because our reception was in my parents' back yard, which couldn't hold THAT many people.

    Yet a lot of the guests were friends of my parents, who'd watched us kids grow up so I can see why they wanted to be there, but I don't think Friends Of Parents count as much as Friends Of Couple.

    And I'm tickled that you and Denny reached 51 years -- congratulations on proving all the nay-sayers wrong!

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    1. Laurie, Your receiving line must have felt endless with 150 plus people going through. But what fun to have friends of your parents who knew you "when". We used to think about what we'd do if we made it to 75 years. I love it when the local newspaper celebrates couples who have survived not just marriage, but life for 75 years of marriage.

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  11. Roz, this is such an interesting and thought-provoking post!

    Having said that, this is where my engineering degree and my university statistics course (that I didn't much enjoy) cause me to state that a sample size of 418 is statistically insignificant!

    So . . . having said that . . . my husband and I considered a large wedding but opted for an intimate elegant (emphasis on elegant) tropical destination wedding. It seems to have worked for us!
    :-)

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    1. Kate, love those tropical destination weddings. And only the people who can afford to go along, do. We just attended a beach wedding for my nephew's daughter. Their friends could drive to the place in about 3 hours so they had a lot of people go along. Where did you go? Caribbean? Mexico? Hawaii?

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    2. It was in St. Lucia and very elegant and formal. It was unlike most destination weddings. The resort management still talk about it as "one of a kind!" It worked beautifully for us!

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  12. I had more than 150. I had the incredible growing wedding. People I didn't invite showed up, like past students who heard I was getting married. Hey, Roz, you were even at my wedding LOL

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  13. Pam, I did go to your wedding. It was fun and lovely, and everyone had a great time. It was the kind of wedding that provides lasting, happy memories.

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  14. Interesting article Roz. I guess I never fall into the norm. Our wedding 47 1/2 years ago was not that big and we are very happy. I have a true tall, dark and handsome hero. smile

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  15. Sandra, you must have been a child bride. Can't believe you've been married almost 48 years. More proof they need to do another poll.

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  16. Interesting about the size of the wedding affecting happiness in marriage but the data does seem a bit sketchy. Don't you have to have something to measure against before you can use percentages ? Anyway, I've also seen studies about happiness in married vs. unmarried and many of them say that married men tend to be happier than single men but single women tend to be happier than married women. True? I don't know. But it is interesting.

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    1. Connie, I decided a long time ago that married men are happier because women go out of their way to take care of them. How many single women say: "I need a wife." Especially writers. ha. I've never been sure how they measure in percentages. In polls they start with the number of people polled, right? If it's ten they can say 7 out of 10 etc... Thanks for dropping by.

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  17. I agree with Kate...what a thought-provoking post! Looking forward to reading the story!

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