Getting married is often considered as a a milestone by some. In some cultures, it may even be termed as a goal for many. What is certain that it’s a decision in life that changes the course of not just your life but also the person that you are.
In Eastern societies it is believed that marriage is not just a unison of two people but often two families. Infact even today, a lot of people tend to let their families take this decision. With families involved, the event and its expenses often spirals out of control as elders take decisions in their own hands, and both families continue to negotiate the events, the gifts, and other intricacies involved. The budget (even if the effort was made to make one) is oft forgotten just a few weeks into the planning.
Understandably this is a special day for people, one that they want to remember with fond memories all their lives. But as times are changing, so are marriage trends. Destination Weddings, Video Documentaries on one hand and Nikahs in mosques on the other, there are huge variations in how people are celebrating their special day around the world.
We decided to speak to some married couples and ask them for financial advice about how to plan a wedding and how to keep within budget. What was surprising was that even though each couple shared their experiences with fondness, but there were quite a few financial suggestions they had for other couples to consider when planning their special day.
For instance almost every couple said that its best to save money and not to spend a big amount for the actual wedding day, ranging from expensive salon trips and makeup to getting expensive designer wear dresses and suits. Instead save the money for a longer honeymoon or for future use like investments or items that help them build their lives/homes.
Here, we present a graphical representation of the expenses shared by the couples we talked to. A lot of these couples generally shared the same detail with us, that they could’ve planned their wedding day and its expenses a little more realistically.
Significant number of couples said that dowry could have been a controlled expense.
Most people thought that the number of functions that they held, and the ones that are being held these days, are mostly extravagant and unnecessary. In fact, some mentioned that these functions were not just a burden on the bride and groom’s family but also on the relatives who had to be engaged in one wedding for anywhere between 5 to 15 days long festivities. Most couples also felt that the amount of money they spend on clothes for the wedding festivities was a lot and something they could easily have have compromised on.
So to help all of you, who are planning to tie the knot anytime soon, we have come up with a list for you to keep a check on. Here are the top ten most quoted financial expenses that married couples regret or felt that they wasted their money on.
1. The Long List of items for Dowry:
Now this has been the most popular item not surprisingly in our polls from the list of items people regretted spending money on. Even though dowry is sometimes more dictated than something the bride’s family does on their own, it has however become an unspoken ritual or a custom no family takes lightly whether they are receiving it or giving it.
A lot of the couples who had moved away from their families outside Pakistan, felt that their dowry items became pretty useless. Most of these items could not be shipped outside Pakistan, even if they could, it was expensive to do so. And even the shipping expense was not a problem it was the fact that most electronic items made in Pakistan would not work on the circuits in other countries, eventually making a lot of these items useless.
These couples generally felt that had they received money or saved money instead of buying these items, they could have used the same money to buying more appropriate and need based items when they had moved out.
2. Wedding Dresses:
This was definitely one of the top things that most couples regretted upon. In a country where designer bridals go up to six figures and sometimes seven figures, the cost versus utility becomes questionable eventually. Most people never used their bridals after the one night that they wore it. Men and women both felt that these clothes were probably the worst mistakes they made in their list of expenses and something they would definitely advise others against.
3. Weddings Festitivies and Functions:
The Wedding festivities instead of just one night/function, now spans to sometimes weeks and months of festivities. Dance practices or Dholkis before the actual events start months before which involve people, food and extra expenses for entertainment. The events associated with the wedding iteself have increased in number with events like Mehndi, Ubtan, Milad, Rang, Mayuun, Nikkah, Rukhsati, Valima. The list is endless with new events being discovered and added to the list. Sometimes the events calendar spirals out of control with guests losing count of the number of days they have been attending just one couple’s wedding affair.
A large number of couples we talked to lamented over the fact that the time, money and effort wasted on such events could have easily been avoided. In fact, a lot of them also mentioned that they could’ve reduced the number of guests as well, and kept the events for close family. This would have easily reduced the amount of money spent during the wedding.
4. Extra Clothes, Formals and Semi-Formals:
This is not just a woman’s forte anymore. More and more families are spending quite the budget on ramping up their future Son-in-Laws wardrobe. These clothes, the men insist most of the times, are not what they would have picked up themselves. They are often just hanging in the closet for months or years before given out to someone else or forgotten about and kept in a suitcase in the storeroom.
Women felt that they went a little overboard when it came to shopping for their clothes. Comments we received stated mostly the same thing, most clothes never made it out of the closet or the bag after marriage. Either their sizes were too small or the trends went out of fashion.
Most women suggested that it was best to buy lesser clothes to take with them and that too more practical wear and less formal wear. They quoted that since it is tradition that in-laws would gift the bride some formals, it is best to save money instead of spending them on clothes you would eventually not wear.
Women also felt that spending that extra amount of money to buying a large number of nightwear and personals was an unnecessary expense and could be managed with a smaller budget set on realistic perceptions.
5. The Wedding Invitations and Lists:
Most couples felt that there were too many people on their wedding functions, most of whom they had never met in their lives. Some couples also felt that we do not have a healthy RSVP system which if in place could save the families a lot of unnecessary expenses and also a lot of wasted food. People they said confirmed their attendance and then still don’t show up causing extra food and other expenses to pile up. Some couples commented that maybe this is why a lot of new couples are now just having a simple nikkah in the mosque and just one reception dinner with their families.
6 & 7. Expensive Décor & Wedding Locations:
Wedding festivities and their grandeur are now determinants or standards of how well you are doing in life. How much do you care about your children is often measured through how much you give and do for them for their wedding. It has also become a compeition for the elite to outclass and outdo the previous big wedding in the city.
However, our couples felt that the money spent on creating the theme and grandeur of their wedding functions was also one of the things that would take back any day. They felt that the décor which includes lakhs of rupees spent on flowers, for just a few hours in the day was too big a cost. A simple wedding as long as it involved the people who one truly cared about was at the end of the day all they needed. This is why they also felt that spending a lot of money to book a wedding location was over-rated. For a few hours of coming together to celebrate the new couple, spending double digit figures was something they felt looked incredulous now.
A lot of the women were actually not happy with the kind of Makeup or Updo they had on their big day. They were even more disappointed because they spend a lot of money to book makeup artists well before time and ended up not looking special as they had wanted. Women complained that since it has become such a big business, make up artists now over book, care less and give less attention to detail to their bridal clients.
Men are not far behind on this one either, booking facials and getting themselves done up on their wedding day. However they felt that they do not have to pay the exorbitant amounts along with their wives, for their grooming for their wedding.
9. Too many Accessories:
Women were the first to mention the huge amount of money they felt they wasted on buying unneceessary accessories to complement their heavy wardrobe. From shoes to bags and clutches, hair gear, makeup and personal hygiene products, they said the list was endless and unnecessary. Most of the bags and shoes were hardly used and they started tearing up sitting in the closets. More accessories were bought when people went on honeymoon and therefore a completely useless exercise.
What did the men say? They agreed! Why? Because the more accessories the bride had the heavier the luggage they had to take for their honeymoon. Making traveling with a new partner even more awkward and difficult.
10. The long Menu:
People on the list all eventually remembered the amount of food that was wasted by the guests and otherwise. Some even said that because of the chaos they never really had the chance to eat at their own events!
They felt the items sometimes were too many and that the buffet system should just be replaced by an ala-carte menu. One serving per guest of an appetizer, main course and desert was more than enough.
This is perhaps why more and more couples are now choosing to donate the same amount of food to orphanages. You can even get in touch with orphanages who would pick up the leftover food from the day or associations like the Robin-hood Army that help take excess food to people who need it the most.
There were some other items that didn’t make it to the top ten but were still quoted as expenses that could be avoided. These included:
- the over-priced photographers and videographers,
- the choreographer who was hired to choreograph a few hours long mehndi dances,
- the wedding planner who could be easily replaced with a diary or your smartphone’s todo app,
- the extra cosmetics women bought like it was the end of the world and
- getting gifts for the in laws and other family members. Most even quoted that no one really liked the gifts they received anyway, so they just felt that the custom was just something that could be skipped altogether.
We hope the list compiled in this blog helps you plan your wedding better and much cheaper.