Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marriage Expenses

Long time back, I had done a post on spending on our weddings. However, the feedback that I received was more interesting than the original post. Read that here.

Last time, it was about my wedding and my expenses. Over the time, I have observed others and here are the observations on general wedding expenses.

Number one culprit for the spending is offcourse the EGO. This could be anybody's ego: starting from bride, groom, parents or relatives. I had the honor to hear:"We have to spend at least this much amount, otherwise our buwa will taunt us"... As if the buwa is going to pay for the expenses. Recently, I attended my friend's wedding. It was right after the college wedding for both the boy and the girl. It was an arrange marriage. The parents of the couple had spent nearly 5-6 times the annual income of the couple combined (pre tax). The couple were obviously excited for such lavish wedding.

Sometimes, either of the family wants to influence the couple and hence blow money on their wedding and honeymoon. Example: Bride's parents spending lavishly and then forcing their decisions on the couple throughout the life. This too is not an uncommon scenario.

Getting carried away by make it big adds. The couple goes to a wedding planner. He/She gives them the list of items/things that they would provide. The bill is offcourse huge. If the couple argues, the planner says this magical line: "ek hi baar to shaadi hoti hian... itna to banta hain sirjee" or "apne maan baap ke bare me bhi socho... unko kitni khushi hogi apne beta/beti ki shaadi agar dhoom dham se ho". That is it. The bill is approved immediately.

Another common scenario: The boy or girl has just returned from 2-4 years of overseas assignment. The bank account has multiple trailing zeroes. The disposable income gives guilt free spending experience to the people. So here comes loads of jewellery, clothes, grand reception and and and finally empty saving account.

Cultural spending: One of my acquaintance purchased a wedding outfit for whopping sum of 60k and that too on credit card. The EMI (yes, off course) is running after 8 months of married life. When I casually asked, why did she purchase such a costly outfit, the reply was: "are hum logon me itna mehenga pehna hi padta hian, warna log tarah tarah ki baten karenge".

Guilt spending: This spending is little uncommon and rare. However, I have come to know about this through a common friend. Parents who were poor in their initial years and managed to save good chunk in their late years belong to this category. The guilt of not spending 'enough' on their child during his/her school days is so huge that they try to compensate that by spending extravagantly on the marriage. Completely emotional spending. You cannot try and explain any logic to the parents in this case.

To sum it up - marriage is important event in one's life. However, there is absolutely no (repeat) need to spend everything on it. Imaging starting a new married life on credit card debt. What is the point of going to Swiss land or Europe tour on loan. Shimla, Manali, Lonavla are much better that debt. Off course, your choice. Morever, in today's times, when the divorces are common, spending everything makes no sense at all. Pre-nup agreements are still unheard of in India.

People getting married for the second time, too spend lavishly on their weddings. The proverb: Once bitten twice shy does not apply here. Giving 800-1k per plate for the people we have never met and with no probability of meeting them again is little difficult to understand. Many times, even the people who attend weddings, attend it due to some or the other obligation. Believe me, in my wedding at least 20% of the people were my relatives whom I have never met before or after my marriage. They just happen to be there because my parents personally invited them. If they see me walking on road, I bet they won't recognize me. Same thing holds good for me too. I am part of this 20% group in most weddings.

Overall, it is very difficult to arrive at any particular amount to be spent on one's wedding. For a person like me, no amount would be small. However, you have to consider emotions of your parents, your would be spouse and his/her parents. There is no point in saving money if your spouse is sad about cheap marriage ceremony. After all, marriage is about happiness. Trying not going overboard on either side happens to be safest bet. If all are frugal by nature.. whoaaa .. nothing like that. You will save loads of money. If not, try optimizing the marriage expenses. On a side note, I think sum of greater than 50% of the annual income of the couple should not be spent on marriage.

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