V-Spot Commentary: Do Big Weddings Predetermine Divorce?

 

You know that saying: the bigger the wedding, the more likely a divorce.

The above quotation was whispered to me as I was planning my wedding last year. I immediately froze as I stared at the person in front of me, who just happened to be my mother. As I was trying to contemplate why on God’s green Earth why she would say such a thing to her only daughter, I started to understand her intentions. In a society where people are just as quick to get divorced as they are to get married, it’s good to have the priorities set.

I didn’t want anything extravagant and what I had planned was a small affair. I mean, real small: my total guest list was 45 people and even my husband thought that was pushing it. Due to budget concerns, we chose to have a civil ceremony at the local courthouse—Beverly Hills, of course—and plan a bigger celebration later.

Our total civil wedding and reception budget? $600. Not too shabby, huh?

This leads to the V-Spot commentary for this week. There has been prevalent news regarding celebrity couples getting divorced. The most recent failed marriage was Eva Longoria and Tony Parker. Their divorce is on top of the others already this year: Elin Nordergren and Tiger Woods, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman, and Courtney Cox and David Arquette. The list goes on.

While I’m sad of yet another divorce, I’ve noticed a small and peculiar fact in some failed marriages: they have had big and lavish weddings. From designer duds to a fireworks display to guests getting Tiffany favors, these couples went all out on their big day. All of these couples spent a small fortune for their big day, just to end it years later. I guess Courtney and David would be the exception to this rule, since they have only separated and not filed for divorce. Personally, I’ve been to three weddings within the past 15 years, invited to several, and guess what? Only two marriages are still standing out of 10 possible. That’s 20 percent. That’s worse than the national divorce rate.

But this topic raises an interesting question: Does a big and expensive wedding predetermine a marriage is over before it started?

 

Again, I couldn’t do this topic without a bit of research and here’s what I found: according to the National Center of Health Statistics, 43% of marriages will end in divorce, down from the widely reported figure of 50%, which was true. So let’s break it down: if 10 couples were to get married this week, only six will stay married. That’s a pretty astounding figure if you think about it.

Now before any of you Intoxication readers harp in the on fact that I’m implying my marriage will last because I didn’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a wedding, I’m not. I have also known couples who’ve divorced even when they went to the courthouse or eloped. Who knows what these couples were going through? When you’re only privy to the outside smiles and laughter, you often don’t see the shouting matches inside. However, I have noticed when a couple (or even one-half of the couple) is focused on the wedding itself, they tend to forget that pink elephant in the room called MARRIAGE.

 

At least they're honest...

 

I’m going to share a little story on my pre-nuptial planning. I didn’t care about it. I kept changing my mind over details such as what type of liquor I wanted rather than stationery and all that other wedding bullshit. My attitude, as my Honor Divas (bridesmaids) told to me, was very ‘whatever.’ In fact, I so didn’t care about the details of my wedding, I didn’t even have a bouquet! My ceremony was a whopping three-minutes long.

My main concern about my wedding was whether I would be a good wife. My husband’s main concern about the wedding was whether he’ll be a good husband. You see where I’m getting at? We really just didn’t give a damn about the wedding. If my husband had it his way, it would’ve just been the two of us and a judge (I managed to convince him to have a few guests. It was about 10 of us total).

Now wedding planning is fun. The trying on gowns. The color-scheming. The choreography of everything. It’s fun and it’s really easy to get caught up in it. The stress level will push you to the brink and people who have never bothered you a day in your life will suddenly work your last good nerve. Planning a wedding, however, does push aside any existing problems. Here’s a hint to future brides: if there are problems before the marriage, they will only intensify—not go away—during the marriage. If he had a wandering eye before you got married, chances are, he’s going to have that same wandering eye after the wedding. If she was sloppy before the marriage, she’s going to remain sloppy after the fact. I’ve read so many stories of brides realizing how unhappy they were until after the guests are gone, the gifts are unwrapped and they realized they just married a roommate, not a life partner. My only reply to hearing that news is very rarely does someone change their colors. Some women married into the fantasy instead of accepting the reality.

What about the aforementioned couples? Did the brides marry into the fantasy or did they truly believe it was going to be happily ever after? Were they better off eloping and calling it a day? Well, no one knows for sure. I believe that if the option of divorce wasn’t so readily available, people would be more hesitant about getting married. Getting married is about being with someone forever, not just when you’re no longer the couple-du-jour.

In case you’re wondering about the cost of Eva Longoria and Tony Parker’s wedding? Over one million dollars.

While Eva revealed Tony was unfaithful to her during their marriage, she allegedly slept with several men as well.

 

So let’s go back to the original question of this V-Spot: do big weddings predetermine divorce? My answer? They don’t. While I know quite a few couple who have spent a small fortune on their wedding and divorce just a short time later, I also know several couples who have remain married.  My conclusion? If I’m spending a minimum of five figures on a wedding, you best believe you are stuck with me—FOR LIFE—or I want my refund. And I don’t take checks.

And there you have it,

-V.

5 thoughts on “V-Spot Commentary: Do Big Weddings Predetermine Divorce?

  1. JC says:

    I got married over the summer, and there were points leading up to it where I couldn’t be bothered with the process. I didn’t walk around with a scrapbook of possible wedding dresses. I didn’t have a favorite flower or color scheme. None of that mattered to me because the only thing I cared about was having him. He understood that, of course, and so did our close friends, but the rest? The fools waiting around to be impressed? They could never grasp it, doomed our marriage because of it, and succeeded in making me feel guilty for the bulk of our engagement.

    Explaining my belief that having all of this superficial crap makes for great pictures but does nothing to validate a marriage was like talking to brick walls. Somehow, I was in the wrong. Somehow, I was ruining my then-fiance’s experience because I wasn’t giddy at the thought of place settings and calla lilies dyed to match my groom’s tie. It took a long time but I finally woke up to the fact that they could all kiss my ass because I was getting married for the right reasons and our marriage will last because of it.

    In the end, we had a small, very private civil ceremony with our best friends that we told no one else about. The following week, we had a lavish Catholic ceremony and reception – the type everyone expected us to have and the type that more than appeased our doting, overbearing Afro-Cuban and Scotch-Irish mothers. The latter affair was beautiful and the reception was a blast, but I am so thankful that we had our private moment to truly appreciate, love, and cherish one another. That’s all I ever wanted my wedding to be, and if we’d only had the big to-do, I don’t know if that dream would have been completely realized.

    • veraroberts says:

      Thank you so much for posting such a personal story. The way you did your way was originally what we had planned before both of us were like, screw it!

      Weddings are about a celebration of love and unity between two people, not who has the biggest bank account.

    • veraroberts says:

      Thank you for sharing such a personal and private story. I think all women should really focus on their relationship without the frilly frills of the wedding. If wedding ceremonies never existed, it would force couples to pay close attention to who they’re marrying.

  2. Chantale Reve says:

    Your article on weddings arrived right on time, for me, because a certain day next week would have been my 11th anniversary. Yeah, we did the day-after-Thanksgiving wedding. (I don’t recommend getting married too close to a holiday. Holidays can be stressful enough, and people have other places to go other than to your big day’s event.) I always get sad right about this time every year because I really loved the man who I eventually wed.

    You see, I say “eventually” because we dated five years, had some minor discord, but seemed in sync. As artists, we were low-key and empty-pocketed, and the latter adjective applied to our single parents, too.

    All our friends and relatives figured we’d get married, but we didn’t allow their assumptions to rush us. We had a civil ceremony that was supposed to be fewer than 12 people — NOT! More than a few relatives crashed, and my usually frugal father paid for everyone’s lunch at a nearby restaurant, which pissed me off because he wasn’t expecting that and he had just begun working at a new job. Also, he had paid for our honeymoon at a seaside resort. Every time I return to that resort — mateless — I think of my former husband and the fun time we had.

    But reflecting on the wedding date, there were three red flags. Sure, we weren’t conservative, but I have a thing about etiquette at formal functions. One, the groom was over an hour late. Two, he was not wearing a tie. Three — and the third red flag waved faster than a torero’s banner in a bullring — as soon as we reached our honeymoon destination, the groom told me we had made a mistake in getting married.

    The groom was Catholic, but not a devout one, so he didn’t know that we could’ve had our marriage annuled. One of my Catholic aunts told me years later, when I disclosed to her his confession on our wedding night, that an annulment definitely would’ve been possible on the first business day following his confession.

    As a young wife (I was in my early 20s), I realized quickly that being married and cohabiting was quite different from living together — of which my father had not approved. Simple things such as deciding who is going to go to the corner store to buy a few emergency groceries turned into a verbal battle or a deafeningly silence punctuated only by eyeball rolling (me) or the snapping of newspaper pages at the breakfast table (he). We were both to blame.

    When we parted — quite amicably — that was one of saddest periods of my life at that point, right after my mother’s death. The marriage didn’t even last two years. We both were devastated. My health and work suffered, and so did my art.

    All of this to say: Ms. Vera, so true that neither a big or small wedding, or even an elopment, can determine whether there will be a divorce. I sure hope that your article and my story, along with any others shared here, can reach out and touch someone who’s reading your blog right now and may be contemplating whether to get hitched. Marriage is so not about the ceremony. The ceremony should not be perceived as some kind of investment in the marriage’s longevity. Photos from a lavish wedding ceremony make for nice mementos, like souvenirs from a memorable trip to a place you might not ever be able to afford again unless you hit the lottery.

    Think about the simple things, such as: If he leaves his dirty drawers on the floor or if she leaves her feminine products in plain sight, would that drive me bonkers? If he leaves the toilet seat up one more time or if she’s on the cordless phone yammering to her mom/sister/girlfriend every other day, would that drive me to distraction?

    Along with sharing the same surname and the hope of getting laid anytime we want, we bring to marriage our morning breath, stinky feet and all of our annoying-as-all-hell ticks and habits. All of us have good and bad habits.

    My last bit of advice is, if you had a habit that drove your sibling(s) and/or parent(s) nuts when you were a teenager, you’d better believe it would drive your husband or wife mad, too. The only thing that might save you both is if one or both of you has a really great sense of humor (with the timing and quality of a stand-up comedian’s). I have that kind of humor now, but it’s no laughing matter that it’s many years too late.

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