Americans are expected to cough up $14 billion on gifts this Valentine's Day, but for many couples the spending is just beginning. That's because the day always brings a wave of marriage proposals, and the average bride and groom will shell out $20,000-plus on the big day. Does all that money buy happiness?

No. Lavish weddings can doom love
: Tradition and a multibillion-dollar romance industry condition us to crave a "blow-out wedding," says Laura Vanderkam in USA Today, but "the most loving marriage" can sink under the diaper and grocery bills that follow. Skip the big wedding and invest the money -- tapping it regularly for date nights to "neck in your car like teenagers" -- and you're far more likely to "live happily ever after."
"What else could that ring buy?"

Budget wisely and you can have it all: Nobody wants to wake up the day after the wedding "with regrets about spending too much," says Marie MacDonald in But the occasion matters, so after the proposal it's time for a "reality check." Calculate how much you can afford to spend, stick to a budget, and you can have it all.
"How to Make a Budget for Your Wedding"

Money will only kill love if you let it: "Love -- true love - should never be about money," say Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz in Psychology Today. So "forget the $60 bouquet of roses" and all the romantic extravagance. Write a love note, take a walk holding hands, share a candlelight dinner. Flush or broke, you can afford to spend time together, and that's what really matters.  
"Giving the gift of time on Valentine's Day"