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Planning a dream wedding? Curb costs if you want to stay married

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Latest MoneyWatch headlines 01:04

When it comes to weddings and fairy tale endings, the more you spend the less likely you’ll stay married. 

That suggests young people already grappling with monthly student loan bills would be wise to take a fiscally conservative route when it tying the knot, since the latter does not bring the same rewards as the former. 

So says a blog writer for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, who makes the case in a Thursday post that while student loans can be a difficult and long-lasting expense, they are also an investment in one’s career and potential income. The opposite can be said of the tens of thousands of dollars often spent on a lavish wedding.

“There are some things that happen really early in your life that really affect your retirement,” Kim Blanton, author of the “When a Diamond Isn’t Forever” blog post, told CBS MoneyWatch. “I’m always looking for stories about how family decisions, marriage decisions, can impact your personal finances, and we all know, or researchers know, that marriage is a route to financial stability as you get older.”

The post cites research conducted by Emory University researchers Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, who theorized that stress about wedding-related debt can get couples off to a rocky star. The average spent on the ceremony and reception is now about $30,000, but Francis and Mialon found that spending $1,000 or less on the wedding was significantly linked to a decrease in divorce.

For men, purchasing a more expensive engagement ring meant increasing the odds of landing in divorce court. Specifically, men spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring was associated with a 1.3 times greater hazard of divorce as compared to spending between $500 and $2,000, the researchers found.   

And divorce creates an entirely different set of fiscal trouble, especially for those nearing retirement, said Blanton, citing other studies.

Blanton, who married in 2014, the same year as the Emory research came out, took the financially prudent path: She got married on the steps of City Hall. “We had a party at a friend’s house.”

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