This Is The Worst Day To Get Married

by Lara Rutherford-Morrison
Bride and groom hugging with wedding  bouquet in her hand
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Amid all of the decisions that go into getting married, the date of a wedding itself might not seem like a big deal. It turns out, however, that some days are worse for weddings than others. A recent study on the worst days of the year to get married revealed that people who get married on “gimmick” days have higher rates of divorce than those who don’t. So all of those people who went out of their way to get married on November 12, 2013 (aka 11-12-13)? It may not have been such a great idea after all.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne analyzed the marriage and divorce data of couples in the Netherlands from 1999 to 2013, a span covering more than a million marriages. They found that the number of weddings that occur on a given day surges when that day is Valentine’s Day or numerically special. Special or “gimmick” days include those with sequential numbers (like 10-11-12), the same numbers (like 12-12-12), or mirror numbers (such as, in the European configuration, 20-12-2012). On a “normal” day in the study’s test period, an average of 201 couples got married. On a special day, that average skyrocketed to 635. People select these types of dates for a variety of reasons, from ease of remembrance to perceptions of the dates as “lucky.”

However, divorce statistics suggest that special wedding dates might not be so lucky after all. The study reports that, after three years of marriage, couples who got married on Valentine’s Day were 45 percent more likely to be divorced than those who got married on ordinary days, and people who got married on same-number dates (e.g. 08-08-08) were 30 percent more likely to be divorced. By the fifth anniversary, failure rates for marriages started on Valentine’s Day and on same-number dates were 41 percent and 28 percent higher, respectively, than those begun on normal dates. People who got married on sequential number dates (e.g. 06-07-08) also had higher divorce rates over longer periods of time. Divorce rates for those who married on mirror dates (e.g. 20.01.2001) were mostly on par with folks who had ordinary wedding dates.

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Obviously, the dates themselves are only numbers — they aren’t responsible for people’s marriages falling apart. So why do gimmicky wedding dates so often correlate with divorce? Study authors Jan Kabátek and Professor David Ribar suggest that it has to do with the types of people who choose to get married on Valentine’s Day and numerically special dates. “People who got married on special dates were more likely to have been married before and more likely to have children already,” Ribar said in a press statement. “We also found that spouses who married on special dates were less alike, in terms of education and ages, than spouses who married on ordinary dates,” Kabátek added. They also found that couples who got married on Valentine’s were more likely to already be expecting a child than those who got married on ordinary days (though the study suggests that might be a seasonal issue).

The authors say that people who get married on special dates might have higher divorce rates because their relationships — and their decisions surrounding marriage — may be influenced by external factors (like wanting a particular date), rather than the internal workings of the relationship itself. “Couples who marry on ordinary dates may be more strongly influenced by characteristics of their relationships and their compatibility than couples who marry on special dates,” Ribar explained.

At the conclusion of their paper, Ribar and Kabátek write,

The decision to marry involves choices about whether and when to marry. For some couples, considerations of when to marry, specifically the opportunity to hold a wedding on a romantically or numerically special date, may influence the decision of whether to marry. The normative implication is that decisions about “whether” should precede those of “when.”

So if you’re planning to get married on Valentine’s Day, or are delaying until 02-20-20, step back and take a good, long look at your relationship. Is the date itself influencing your desire to marry? If so, you might want to rethink your life plan.

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