A new book on dating and marriage in India offers tips for young readers.
Engineer turned writer Sahil Thakker has released the book Dating and Marriage Diaries in Urban India: A no nonsense guide to finding your perfect partner
One of the chapters of the book is on the extravagant spending at Indian weddings and how and why it is important to do away with it.
We bring you the excerpt on 'Wedding Expenses'. Read on:
Indian wedding often tends to be an elaborate affair from start to finish.
Various communities have their own unique rituals. As Indian economy has boomed in the last few years, increasing number of people have been spending lavishly on weddings.
An entire industry has grown to cater to every sort of whim or fancy you might have. Some examples of ostentatious display of wealth are:
- Multi cuisine (North Indian, South Indian, snacks/ chaat (pani puri, bhel puri etc.), Chinese, Mediterranean and so on). If possible, please consider donating excess food to charity organisations or needy people.
- Several sets of very expensive designer clothes. This is not just for the bride and the groom but for several family members too.
- Limousines or luxury cars to ferry the bride and the groom.
- Wedding themes. These can be very expensive and often serve no purpose other than show-off.
One of my friend's dad is a branch manager at a major public sector bank.
My friend told me how his dad used to tell him that many people would take out huge loans for weddings.
The loan money would usually be spent on all wedding related expenses including but not limited to buying gold jewelry and expensive clothes, the wedding and in some cases for honeymoon in expensive locations abroad.
Honeymooning in India is considered to be boring and many people prefer to travel exotic locations abroad often on borrowed money!
Once someone in the community spends a certain amount of money, it sets a benchmark for many other people.
This can and often does begin an arms race to keep spending more.
Even within the same family, if parents spend a certain amount of money for the elder child, it sets expectations among younger kids that the same or even more money will be spent for them.
Since 2008 USA and many other countries around the world have been in the midst of severe recession. Many people have understood that they were very much less rich than they thought themselves to be.
On a positive note it has ushered in much needed frugality in many things including weddings.
Almost everyone I knew there told me that weddings in USA are solemnized in a simple church ceremony. I was definitely impressed by this as compared to the often elaborate and expensive ritual of an Indian wedding.
In late 2013, one of my American friends, whose elder brother was getting married, told me how his brother and future sister in law were trying to save costs on their upcoming wedding.
My friend later told me how they were able to save at least a few thousand dollars by managing costs carefully and avoiding wasteful expenditure.
The things they did were:
- They designed the wedding invitation cards themselves and took print outs. These printouts were then mailed to friends and family.
- They did most of their shopping from good quality discount stores instead of buying designer labels. This alone saved them hundreds of dollars.
- No limousines to ferry the bride and the groom.
- The reception menu was simple and they limited the number of items. There was no limitation on the amount of food each guest could eat.
- They did spend money on alcohol and the wedding cake.
The bride, groom and their families must decide on a realistic budget for the wedding from start to finish.
Since so many different costs are involved, there is always a good probability that some of the costs will be more than initial estimates, so do keep 10 to 20 per cent more than the budget. This is wise planning for any unexpected expenses too.
Always remember this simple fact that the success of your marriage does not depend on how much you spend on your wedding.
Key tip: Avoid extravagance on the wedding and spend within your means.
Published with the kind permission of Notion Press.
Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Yogita/Wikimedia Commons