If you’re getting hitched anytime soon, you’re probably going to want to expand that guest list.
According to the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, the more people that come to a wedding, the happier the couple will be in their marriage — thanks to how the ceremony cements the connection between a couple and their community.
“Weddings, after all, are public celebrations involving family, close friends, and often a wider network of people around a couple,” write Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley, co-authors of the “Before ‘I Do'” report.
Drawing from a sample of 418 people married between 2007 and 2013, the study found that couples who had 150 or more guests at their weddings had a 47% likelihood of having a higher-quality marriage, while having 51 to 149 guests predicted a 37% likelihood, and having 50 or less predicted a 31% likelihood.
The correlation held up after controlling for income and education.
“There is some reason to believe that having more witnesses at a wedding may actually strengthen marital quality,” Rhoades and Stanley add.
They gave the following explanations for the link:
• “Weddings may foster support for the new marriage from within a couple’s network of friends and family.”
• “[T]hose who hold a formal wedding are likely to have stronger social networks in the first place.”
• Citing sociologist Emile Durkheim, “Rituals associated with collective life [like weddings] give meaning, purpose, and stability to social life.”
• Citing 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.”
• Citing social scientist Paul Rosenblatt, “Holding a big wedding with many witnesses would lead to a stronger desire — or even need — to follow through on the commitment.”
There’s a deeper lesson here for anyone tying the knot: While only two people say vows at a wedding, their whole community is involved in their marriage.
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