Wedding bling: For the love of money

Published: December 19, 2010

From designer clothes to custom-made jewellery, weddings are no longer simple affairs. PHOTO: DUMREE.COM

It’s that time of the year again. Fathers lament the drain of their pockets, mothers get teary-eyed at every glimpse of their daughters, designers smirk behind their overpriced outfits, tailors get threatening calls from customers, salons get overcrowded, caterers lie their way through fancy menus and it’s probably the only time of the year when choreographers and the “band baaja walas” earn a decent livelihood. It’s the wedding season, where we focus on every little detail but the real wedding itself.

From designer clothes to custom-made jewellery, weddings these days are known for more than just a simple event celebrating the union of two people. And let’s not forget the overwhelming hype created before the mehendi, where the groom’s side literally has a dance off with the bride’s side. Irony of the fact remains that the mehendi alone is now the highlight of the three-day celebration; the rest of the days are merely reduced to a sequel to the hyped event. But it’s just not about the mehendi alone; weddings these days are a way of displaying wealth; no more than a competing platform where one outdoes the other. As long as it’s “over the top” and gets people talking, it’s in vogue.

Weddings are a status symbol more than anything else. It’s all about living up to society’s expectations, making it worthy enough to gossip about at the next kitty party. We can blame it on societal pressure but we forget that we are the ones who represent society. Recently, our prime minister’s son tied the nuptial knot in Lahore and according to news reports a three hour traffic jam followed an eight kilometre trail of guest cars.

It’s sad how the crux of the wedding – the nikah – is something most of us find insignificant even though it’s the most pivotal part of the wedding. Somehow, everything else seems to take precedence and is blown out of proportion to meet standard expectations.

While some are striving to raise funds to maintain a minimum life-style following one of Pakistan’s worst economic crises, others remain dangerously callous, self indulgent and preoccupied with going all out to manifest their wealth.


Safia Kaleem

A Karachi based marketeer who works at Maersk

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

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    Good write up. That’s why I boycotted weddings way back. Please join the club.Recommend

  • WhoWasThatMaskedMan

    I like that. I always believed wedding ceremony to be as simple as Nikkah followed by Valima with some close ones. Takes a single day, go back to your life and focus on your marriage. These ballyhoo-sort wedding just add to a bundle of unrealistic expectations, as well.Recommend

  • Muhammad Rameez Javed

    well,wow…. at last someone highlightes the heartrendering fact…. cheers writers… good work….Recommend

  • Shahbaz

    I like the way that you portrayed the color of wedding season & fad activities pertain to prevailing by and large glitzy from those strike-out middle class. we should follow the simple religious rituals to make our lives according to the teachings of Islam. Recommend

  • oz

    Well. Now we know who’s going to have a cheap wedding ;-) Recommend

  • Angelos

    I wish we could follow what out Prophet and His followers used to do regarding weddingRecommend

  • Ahsan

    very rightly said…Only 3 necessities are required: 1.nikah ,2.mehr(gift from bridegroom to bride) n 3.walima..thats it…no dowry,no salamian,no sitting for long hours on the stage smiling idiotically, no dance competitions where the inlaws passionatly fight it out to outdo each other, no putting oil on the head of the poor groom n no putting Quran over the head of the bride as she leaves coz this is not from sunnah…Its a simply the coming together of two persons who decide to start a new life together n it should be made exclusivley special to them…Recommend

  • feathered brain

    my comment = all above comments!Recommend

  • Dr.Khan

    My friend just spent about $100,000 on her wedding all to get compliments from people!Recommend

  • Umair

    In these pressing economic timese, there should be a simple wedding with less expenditure and the couple must rather save for their future. Islam also tells us to choose the middle path, do not be too lavish and do not be stingy either. If it is a happy occasion celebrate within the limits but no need to overdo. Recommend

  • 007

    weddings are really a special moment in every family… and well the mentality of every family is that to make the moments special there should be infinite hulla-gulla!Recommend

  • Humanity

    The wedding should be a simple, close-knit affair. The energy should be focused to make the marriage blissful and purposeful. The relationship takes active engagement, expectation and conflict management, and a lot of compassion to become a life long bond.Recommend

  • Confused

    And here I thought it was about ‘celebrating the union of two people’ :O

    People really need to know this! Eye opening. Thanks!! ^_^Recommend

  • unseen-eccentric

    excellent piece. now there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. the traffic jams created by elite weddings lol. well, what can you do – the division between the rich and the poor is only becoming bigger. The rich are always in a competition with each other in all forms of life. There’s got to be a way to fix this too…Recommend

  • Humanity

    @007 “there should be infinite hulla-gulla!”
    The more hulla-gulla at the wedding, usually the more unrealistic the expectations are for the marriage. It is hard to out do the fireworks of the wedding every day when the reality sets in. So wisdom lies ins starting out simply yet sincerely, and building up the fireworks slowly but surely through mutual respect and love. Nothing can ever beat the hulla-gulla of a healthy, loving bond.Recommend

  • SKChadha

    Marriage is nothing but social recognition of pairing of adults in a civilized society. It also enshrines responsibility on couples to groom the offspring and give name to them in society. The world over marriage is characterized by four basic requirements: a) social gathering for recognition; b) some religious hocus pocus; c) feast; and d) loud happy noises which can be heard at a distance.

    Human being is a social animal and according to ones outreach in society above four requirements of marriage are performed by everyone whether it is by advertisement of wealth or by publicity through hard social working. Nothing wrong brothers, it is continuing since ages and will also continue in times to come.Recommend

  • Zubair

    @SKChadha: But what about poor families who have to do all this by taking loans( which will hurt both families for the rest of life) in order to meet society’s expectations? I do believe that we must celebrate our marriages simply..Recommend

  • Amena

    My friends recently have opted for one or two-day weddings, choosing instead to save money for starting off on a good footing. I hope some day my own family will see the sensibility – focusing on the ‘wedding’ instead of the ‘marriage’ is just wrong. Recommend

  • Waqas Rao

    Please give to the poor rather then wasting money please start this from next year as this year i have to get married :) Recommend

  • Mariam

    I still cannot understand that why do we invited hundreds of people in a wedding and many other extravaganzas which are totally useless in the end.Recommend

  • maera

    every one has commented brilliantly, but I need to ask the men/boys in this blog… when the mothers and sisters are busy asking for dowry and and other stuff.. or when there expectations regarding the wedding our high.. do you guys intervene.. or just sit back and enjoy the ride..

    I think if both bride and groom object to the extravagances and we wont have such issues.. unfortunate girls want a ” talk of the town mehandi and in laws want talk of the town dowry…. focus on wedding is more rather than marriage hence high divorce rate.Recommend

  • Belal

    we celebrate because of our friend who is getting trapped for the whole life. :p Recommend

  • Zahid Sheikh

    This is good to see that people realise the importance of such visible issue, which is taking its toll on our divided society. The class divide, which is increasing at an alarming rate, day by day, is threatening the society and demands us to act immediately to end such activities. Let us do it now.Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Brilliant piece. Rich people waste their money to demonstrate their wealth and poor people are forced to follow the trends so they end up with loans.
    At the same time I am against the government’s measures to ban food (or multiple dishes) in marriage ceremonies.Recommend

  • Usman Altaf

    Yes, I totally agree on what Safia has mentioned. I believe on simplicity. I think each one of us should participate at our own level and contribute as a whole overcoming this problem.Recommend

  • Nabeel

    Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) has told us that the more we waste money on weddings, the less blessings there will be and vice verse. No wonder there are problems of saas bahu (one of the reasons of less blessing or lack of), constant fighting among the spouses, early divorces. People who idiotically waste their time to practice synchronized dancing are not even aware that the couple might get divorced within 1 year, so what the heck are celebrating about.

    Please watch this video of Dr.Israr Ahmed explaining Nikah in the light of Sunnat

    also this video

  • Schazad

    Well I can both sides. If rich don’t spend money, poor won’t have jobs. Economy won’t thrive and money won’t exchange hands. Money will stay in one hand and economy won’t go. We like to kill everything. Now I see other people views as well that its a complete show off now a days. There should be a bit austerity shown in these functions. Just plain simple wedding would get thousands upon thousands of people unemployed and increase in poor people too.

    Secondly its time to celebrate 2 families’ union so we have to cut some slack. At the time when the family has only one son and its a dream of mother and father to see their children happy, makes them happy too and u like everyone to be part of that happiness to share.
    Extravagance “NO”, Austerity “YES” but there has to be some fun to it to keep a good balance.Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    A very nice topic indeed. It’s good to talk but hard to practice. I guess if people begin to practice this, it will be nice.Recommend

  • Nabeel

    @ Schazad, you are right that there should not be extravagance, please do watch the links I have posted before your post. The reason for valima is exactly celebration for the groom’s family, the problem here is we cross the limits and try to imitate Indian weddings (not even try, but exactly like Indians). Allah has given wealth to selected people for a reason and it should not be wasted to display it.Recommend

  • ali

    i agree its too muchRecommend

  • airport

    Love looking at that bride though.Recommend

  • Saad Duraiz

    right on!Recommend

  • HA

    finally something worth a read on express tribune.Recommend

  • Zahra

    “While some are striving to raise funds to maintain a minimum life-style following one of Pakistan’s worst economic crises, others remain dangerously callous, self indulgent and preoccupied with going all out to manifest their wealth.”

    While it is understandable and appreciated that you have taken up this issue, you should still pay some heed to the ‘live and let live principle’ for the wealthy. It is up to them what they choose to do with their wealth, and neither you nor I can comment on it or tell them what they should be doing instead.

    What we should strive for is a change in wedding culture, not attack those with money. I don’t think it is callous of them to celebrate their weddings with pomp. It may be self-indulgent, but what would you rather they do? Indulge the entire country instead of theirselves? Donate all they have and not spend cause others in the country can’t? It doesn’t work that way.. If that logic were to be applied, they won’t be able to live where they live, eat where they eat and shop where they shop, study where they study and drive what they drive. It just doesn’t make sense. They can’t move to shanty towns and live in houses with lack of potable water and travel on public transport just cause most of the population in this country does. Be fair!Recommend

  • Thirty Lacks in your Pocket

    As a matter of fact, one need on average Rs.30 Lakh for three shadi events. So guys, in their 20’s start saving up and get ready for a fight with your daddy’s saving account if you are not a good saver.

    Pay heed to this fact, please.

    Source: 2011 January and February I went to 2 shadi’s.Recommend

  • Patriot

    Why did you post a picture of a hindu bride during her wedding? You can easily tell she is hindu as the man in putting the red powder in her hair parting. Only hindu brides do that!!

    Why can’t we show and promote our own culture but try to copy hindu’s? And we pakistani’s don’t spend as much as money as Hindu’s on weddings. Recently I read on BBC News online a hindu wedding which took place this year cost $50 million dollars.

    Please respect our own culture and stop following hindu culture. Recommend

  • Sana N

    Good article, glad someone wrote about it and can I just say: What the hell is a Mayun?! Why do we even have it in there? Nikah, Valima -Khatam shud.Recommend