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Updated on Monday, March 1, 2021
Marriage is forever — unless, of course, it’s not. And for some, it takes two or three (or more) times to get it right. In fact, getting remarried multiple times isn’t uncommon in some states. And although that often translates to a happier personal life, it can also cost quite a bit of money.
In the latest MagnifyMoney study, we take a look at the states with the highest percentage of people with at least three marriages under their belt, using the latest available data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Here’s what we found.
- Key findings
- States with highest percentage of residents with 3 or more marriages
- In states with highest percentage of 3-time marriages, average ages during first marriage skew younger
- How wedding costs can impact decision to get remarried
- Metros tend to have fewer 3-time marriages than within states
- Are you financially ready for another marriage?
- Arkansas (7.9%), Oklahoma (6.9%) and Tennessee and Wyoming (both 6.7%) have the highest percentage of residents who have been married at least three times.
- The states with the lowest percentage of residents with at least three marriages are New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts (all 1.4%).
- The states with higher rates of residents with at least three marriages are likely to have people whose first marriages were at an earlier age. In Arkansas, the average woman is married for the first time at 26, while the average man is married for the first time at 27. In Rhode Island, which has the fifth-lowest rate of residents with at least three marriages, those figures are 31 for women and 32 for men.
- The cost of a wedding can impact whether someone gets married multiple times. In New Jersey, the average wedding costs $36,700. In Arkansas, that figure is $14,500, so you can potentially get married twice in Arkansas for the cost of less than one wedding in New Jersey.
States with highest percentage of residents with 3 or more marriages
Three of the top-five states for three-plus marriages were in the South, while the remaining two were in the West:
|States with the most triple newlyweds|
|Rank||State||Percentage married 3 times or more|
In the areas with the least triple newlyweds, there’s a common factor: All five states were in the Northeast.
|States with the fewest triple newlyweds|
|Rank||State||Percentage married 3 times or more|
How states with highest percentage of those with at least 2 or 3 marriages compare to states with highest percentage of those with 1 marriage
The states with higher rates of residents getting married at least three times also have higher rates of people getting married at least two times.
In fact, Arkansas has both the highest rate of residents with at least three marriages (7.9%) and the highest rate of residents with at least two marriages (17.8%). By contrast, New York and Massachusetts tied for the lowest rate of residents on their second (9.6%) or third (1.4%) marriages.
That said, the reverse is true for places where people have been married once: In the states with high rates of triple marriages, there tended to be a lower rate of one-time newlyweds. For instance, 53.5% of New York residents have been married once, compared with 49.2% in Arkansas.
In states with highest percentage of 3-time marriages, average ages during first marriage skew younger
Residents with three or more marriages under their belt tend to start early. In Arkansas, which has the highest concentration of those with three-plus marriages, the average age for first-time newlyweds is 26 for women and 27 for men.
And Wyoming — tied for No. 3 on our overall list — has the youngest first-time newlyweds: 25 for women and 27 for men, on average. (For context, the average age across all 50 states is 28 for women and 30 for men.)
Among the bottom-five states for triple marriages, average ages for first marriages tend to be on the higher side. For example, Rhode Island has the oldest average ages, with both women (31) and men (32) landing in the 30-plus range — above the national averages for their gender.
Take a look at the graphics above to see where your state stands.
How wedding costs can impact decision to get remarried
Making memories often comes with a hefty price tag. Weddings are no exception to that rule — and for those with multiple marriages, that can play a role in the decision to remarry.
In New Jersey and New York — both tied at the bottom for the fewest residents with triple marriages — an average wedding costs $36,700 and $32,200, respectively. By comparison, the average wedding costs in Arkansas — at the top of our list — is $14,500. Repeating those kinds of costs can add up quickly.
If you compare average incomes to wedding costs, that further complicates things. For example, the average wedding in Arkansas costs 30% of the median household income there, or just over 3.5 months of work. In New Jersey, the average wedding costs 43% of median household income there, or just over five months of income.
Metros tend to have fewer 3-time marriages than within states
Marriage is less common in urban areas of the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center — in fact, 51% of those in rural areas are married, versus 44% of urban residents. That trend tracks when you look at multiple-marriage rates from a metro-versus-state perspective.
For example, Birmingham, Ala., has the highest rate of residents with at least three marriages in our analysis at 6.2%, but that’s lower than the statewide rate of 6.4%. The trend is the same between New York City (1%) and New York (1.4%).
Of note: Two of the five metros with the highest rate of residents with at least three marriages buck the trend: Jacksonville and Tampa (both 5.3%) have a higher rate than Florida overall (5%).
Are you financially ready for another marriage?
Weddings often come with a long list of obvious costs, such as the venue, flowers, music and food. But there are also hidden costs, regardless of whether it’s your first wedding or your third, cautioned Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts.
“Along with various service charges and taxes, there are hidden fees built into almost every aspect of a wedding,” he said. “Many wedding costs are rather obvious but easily forgotten. Read and understand your contracts with your vendors.”
And when it comes to second or third weddings, things can get more difficult, Tumin said. With these weddings, the couple is typically responsible for all costs, compared to first weddings that are often supplemented by family assistance. Still, there are ways to prepare:
- Determine your budget. Go through your potential costs and decide how much you want to allocate to each portion, as well as what you might want to DIY. Then, you can take that overall goal and split it into monthly savings goals.
- Prioritize costs as necessary. Not everyone can afford to pull out all the stops, and that’s OK — the key is to make sure you’re getting the things you really want. “Partially because they are paying for it, brides and grooms tend to focus on their wants over tradition,” Tumin said. “This can end up saving the couple a lot of money.”
- Set up a savings account for the wedding. “If you open this wedding account as a joint account, both the bride and groom can easily contribute to it,” Tumin said. Setting automatic deductions can make saving easier and more regular if you aren’t accustomed to the habit or prefer a hands-off approach to finances.
- Avoid taking on debt, if possible. Ideally, you’d pay for the wedding costs out of the dedicated savings account, rather than by charging costs. (That includes taking steps like extending your credit limit.) This way, you won’t start your marriage with wedding debt.
MagnifyMoney researchers used 2019 Census Bureau data to rank the states with the highest percentage of residents with at least three marriages. Data on median age of first marriage and number of marriages comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, while wedding cost data comes from The Wedding Report.