Struggling with your wedding budget? Follow sheikhs’ example

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Regular readers will remember that I have little time for over-the-top weddings that leave people in debt. If I had a dirham for every marriage that buckled under the borrowing costs of a ludicrously expensive ceremony then I’d have enough to bail out a small European nation.

My view is simple. Spend only what you can afford. That will give married life a far better foundation than if you start off stressed and in debt.

And it seems I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

Recently three sheikhs were married during mass wedding ceremonies alongside ordinary citizens.

Mass weddings were initiated in 1992 by Sheikh Zayed as a way to help less well-off Emiratis with wedding costs. The idea is that by the Government and the Marriage Fund footing the bill, the newlyweds get the best possible start to married life.

Up until now many families have been too proud to even consider having their children celebrate their wedding day with strangers. They’d rather opt for something extravagant that makes them stand out and feel important.

But seeing sheikhs take part in a mass wedding may prompt families to rethink their multi-million-dirham plans.

At the sheikhs’ weddings, rather than an extravagant evening meal featuring exquisite dishes and endless courses, the ceremony took place in the afternoon, with only coffee and dates served.

Yet these eating arrangements, along with a healthy dose of traditional dancing, were quite sufficient to entertain the high-profile guests, who included royal family members from all seven emirates.

Young men are being urged to follow the example and save money by scheduling their weddings in the afternoon and catering with dates and coffee. The advice appears to be sinking in.

While leafing through Al Ittihad newspaper this week, I noticed a number of families had posted notices advertising the postponement of their weddings, which would now be taking place in the afternoon.

Personally, I think this is a great development, and I thank these sheikhs for showing you can marry in royal style without paying a princely sum.