UAE ministry explores benefits of downsizing weddings to help couples save for the future

The Ministry of Community Development is gauging public opinion on a shift towards simpler ceremonies

UAE residents are being urged to take part in a new government survey exploring the benefits of couples tying the knot without splashing the cash on lavish wedding ceremonies.

The Ministry of Community Development is gauging public opinion on the issue after Covid-19 restrictions prompted a rise in virtual weddings and smaller gatherings.

The poll aims to highlight the positive outcomes of intimate weddings and how they can help build a more “cohesive family” and “coherent community”.

The survey - entitled the The Pros of Completing Marriage Without Wedding Ceremonies - is available at this link.

The ministry said it was aiming to encourage grooms and brides-to-be to save money on ceremonies and instead direct their resources into supporting their new family unit.

The results of the study are to be published online.

Wahida Khalil Darwish, director of marriage grants department at the Ministry of Community Development, said officials had closely monitored the successful outcomes of marriages held without public ceremonies from January until June.

“[This is an] opportunity for all future spouses to reduce wedding expenses, rationalise consumption, and thus increase the chances of successful marriages to form a cohesive family and a stable family,” said Ms Darwish.

Lama Younis, founder of Hissah Enrichment Centre for Psychology and Wellbeing, said she always advises family and friends to consider intimate weddings instead of large ceremonies.

“I am an example myself; I got to have an intimate wedding at my own home with my family members in my own relaxed environment without any pressure,” said the 37-year-old Saudi.

“You get to celebrate the biggest day of your life surrounded by people who you love, and who love you.

"So you remember their faces, their conversations, their smiles; unlike a large wedding where you probably won’t be able to spot the faces that you want to see at that moment.”

She said also having a wedding attended only by close family and friends reduced the pressure on couples to put on a show for guests.

The main goal, she said, should not be to make everyone happy, but to make the couple happy, which could be achieved in a small ceremony.

“In general, when the person is psychologically relaxed, this will last longer in their long-term memory; the benefit is very good in terms of the psychology behind it,” she said.

She said smaller weddings could also result in happier marriages because the couple start their lives "relaxed and save on money".

The ministry's 18-question survey asks participants about the impact of marriage without wedding ceremonies due to recent restrictions and the possibility of continuing this approach.

The study also raises questions about the advantages of social changes that occurred during Covid-19, and the benefits of carrying on with them once life if back to normal.

In June, Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, said the increase in virtual weddings prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak could prove beneficial for couples.

“Virtual weddings are carried out with least of cost, but with the same level of joy; and this is a golden opportunity to instill new social principles to save on wedding costs," Ms Buhumaid said.

“After coronavirus and when things are back to normal, we wish for an increase in marriages and joyful occasions, but more importantly to learn to cut costs and not exaggerate the [lavish] things that were one of the reasons many marriages got delayed.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, sent out a letter last month praising couples for cutting down on expenses for their big day.