Can you afford to say ‘qabool hai’

Published: October 10, 2010
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The perfect diamond ring is an essential part of every bride's dream wedding

October brings with it not just a change in the weather, but also the impending super-busy wedding season. Weddings can be a lot of fun. Some people enjoy the “rounak shounak” of mehndis, others like a chance to eat korma every single day for a month and some just appreciate an occasion to bond with friends and family if it’s a close someone tying the knot.

All good things come with a price tag attached and “shaadi ka ladoo” is not free. Having talked to a variety of people about their thoughts and reactions (because talking is what I do best), I hereby present to you the classic victims of shaadi barbaadi!

The self made corporate dulha

This gentleman has a typical Type A personality. He aced school and sports and landed his dream job. Having slogged his way slightly up the corporate ladder, it is now time for him to acquire a wife. Raza, a former colleague, is a typical example of  “beta you are earning well and we are getting old- we think it is time for you to get married now!” Having met 17 girls over parental chaperoned tea he finally assented to Sadia, a doctor.  Until now, Raza thought the difficult part is finding Miss Right. He is now discovering that the cost of getting married is a very close second. The solitaire has to be a certain size (otherwise what will her family think!), the valima jora must be designer and Bhurban is no longer a cool destination for honeymoons. “Ten lakhs and three years of savings gone in a poof,” was the last note of grumbling I heard him growl over an overpriced cup of coffee.

Bridezilla

Like any other girl, I completely understand the importance and significance of your wedding day. You have always imagined what you will look like, what your flowers  or outfit will be like and so on. But Bridezilla is a breed of women who takes this to a different level. To quote a popular Hindi movie, “By god, mujhe bachpan say shaadi karnay ka bahut shuk hai!”

Mubashir Khan, a leading makeup artist, once told me:

“The only thing that is important to them is that particular day – they have been planning it since they were sixteen and they will do anything to make it perfect.”

He should know, after having played therapist to many a bride while priming them for their big day. Bridezilla, having found the groom (aka the perfect accessory) goes about planning her day with the aggression of a Mongolian army. Words such as “Daddy can pay for the $2,000  worth of shopping at Victoria’s Secret – after all it is the last bill he is paying for me!” are squealed while she ensures that her laptop cover is coordinated with her new bedroom furniture. Far be I to look down upon anyone’s dreams, so here is a cost-saving suggestion darling brides to be:  vintage is in fashion, so bring out your mother’s sharara, or if you are really committed to earning favorite daughter in law, ask your mother in law for hers!

The regular attendees

It is with fond affection that I mention this bunch. They are the ones spotted participating enthusiastically in choreographed dances at their friend’s chachi’s nephew’s wedding.  With the onset of age and maturity, they evolve into familiar faces you encounter at every single wedding. “If I don’t meet Rahim Chacha at the third wedding I go to in a row, I get worried and ask around about his well-being,” is how a friend described his chacha’s track record.

Regular socialization at weddings comes at a cost

Especially for women, as men are let off wearing their office suits or the Khaadi kurta they bought for eid.

” I have seven weddings to attend this December and most of the people will be the same everywhere so I cannot repeat my outfits too much,” Sara complained.

A budding lawyer, she claimed to have spent two months salary on creating a wedding wardrobe for the year 2010. “These days, weddings are all year round,” she says. “I need a new set out outfits every year.” Did I mention that Sara is twenty six, that is, at an eligible age? For her, attending weddings is very important.

After all, you never know which aunty or aunty’s son might spot her and the next wedding card might have her name on it. With all the money being spent on buying clothes, getting your hair done and recycling glass vases and silver frames from Apa’s wedding five years ago, there is one cost saver – the grocery bill for December is possibly going to be very low!

The bride’s family

Coming from a family of only daughters, my sympathies rest entirely with this group. From trying to balance the daughter’s dreams for wild orchids, to the in-laws’ expectations: Hilal Silk outfits for the groom’s twenty nine cousins, it is an emotional and costly experience getting your daughter married off. The engagement ceremony, the nikkah, the mayun, mostly the mehndi and definitely the rukhsati dinner are all their responsibility, aside from gifts for the ma in law, furniture and the designer outfits the bride and her two sisters must have! All of this possibly adds up to more than the cost of  educating her. For all those who have daughters, here’s a piece of advice: marry your daughters into small families. Even a converted gora with few cultural expectations will do!

Having said all this, I still find Pakistan lagging behind the global level of wedding extravaganzas. We have yet to discover destination weddings, which can have guests jetting off to exotic islands or romantic capitals for a few days of fun and revelry. Although a few weddings have had performances by sub-continental celebrities such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan or one of the Bhangra boys,  Kylie has not jumped out of any wedding cakes yet. With exposure and competition growing, these trends might not be far off. After all, a wedding is an ideal opportunity to showcase your success and hospitality to your near and dear ones.

But all is not lost, the wedding business is good money for event planners, bridal designers, jewelers, dance choreographers, caterers and the tourism board of Malaysia (since it is currently the most popular honeymoon destination for us Pakistanis). Many a business exhausts its energies making deliveries and meeting deadlines all of November and December before achieving a much earned holiday in early January. And all cynical digs aside, there is something truly delightful about seeing two people commit to spending the rest of their lives with each other.

Shezray Husain

Shezray Husain

A journalist turned investment banker turned entrepreneur with a keen interest in most things around her.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.