The big day, but not with the big debt

Huge weddings that saddle couples with huge debts are giving way to smaller celebrations or mass weddings with dozens of other couples.

Weddings are supposed to be one of the happiest moments of one’s life, but for too many couples in the UAE and elsewhere in the Arab world, the pressure to have a huge celebration has the result of saddling the couple with huge debts. This is hardly the best way to begin married life.

The essential idea that underpins any wedding is of a couple making solemn vows to each other in front of the people who are most important to them. But other factors like prestige, tradition, competitiveness and even family pressure can see the event swell in size until, as The National reported yesterday, the guest list can reach up to 1,000 people and the cost exceed Dh1 million.

One wedding industry blogger in the UAE estimated that even an ­average wedding now costs between Dh100,000 and Dh150,000, and generally more for those in the Arab and Indian communities.

What is to be done to avoid this kind of pitfall? Counting every dirham goes against the spirit of a wedding celebration but there is not much to celebrate if the lavishness of one’s wedding prompts an austere lifestyle as couples seek to get their finances back on a healthy footing.

Emiratis are already assisted with Zawaj, the government marriage fund designed to offset much of the expense of holding a wedding and established by the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed. The fund pays Dh70,000 for each wedding, with contributions totalling more than Dh100 million each year.

The fund does more than just provide some financial assistance to the families involved. It also regularly holds group weddings to ensure that newly married couples can start their lives together without crippling debts.

Such celebrations are gaining traction, with the number of couples involved increasing year on year.

Another longstanding wedding tradition is to give gifts to the couple. What gift could be better than starting married life without any debt?

Published: May 17, 2014 04:00 AM