Thursday, August 11, 2016

Do you need to spend $100K+ on your wedding?

Desi weddings are notorious for being a big affair. Over 300 guests is normal (that's actually small). In India and Bangladesh you can easily have a guest list of over 500. Large halls in Mississauga and Brampton in Ontario are testament to the fact that brown weddings are a huge business.

Recently a status started to be forwarded on social media (mostly by already married millennials) about a guy stating how he did not want to get married in a huge and lavish ceremony. Here's an excerpt (emphasis mine).

 You "invest" $100,000 and what do you get out of it? A few nice portraits of you and your family wearing some South Asian Halloween costumes? Or for a dumb 3 minute wedding video to put on youtube?
$100,000 for some pictures and a youtube video. How's that not a ponzi scheme? And here's the thing. I know many people in our community may be wealthy, but who HONESTLY has $100,000 to spend? Who REALLY has that much money?

Now here's the thing. If you had asked a twenty year old me I would have agreed 100% with this writer. Of course weddings in our community are needlessly large and shamelessly an occasion to flout one's wealth. When you are twenty, you are idealistic. You aren't experienced in the nuances of real practical life.

And you of course bring religion into it because you think it supports your ideal fantasy.

Of course Islam tells us not to be lavish!

Of course we should not be extravagant!

Here's the thing though. Once you are thirty plus, you start experience life as it really is, not as it should be. And you learn that many things you once idealized as black and white really has lots of shades of grey.

For example, one of the weddings (with Ramla bint Abu Sufiyan) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was thrown by the King of Abyssinia himself. It's hard to imagine that wouldn't have been at least a semi-lavish affair. Moreover, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married Maymunah bint Al Harith, he wanted to invite all of Makkah to his wedding. That would have been at least 300 people, if not more. So while Islam does take a stand against extravagance, and urges people to invite both the rich and poor to weddings for there to be blessings, it doesn't define extravagance.

And that is the whole point.

The answer to Do you need to spend $100K+ on your wedding is very simple.

It depends.

Do you have over $100K+ to spend? And spend so it won't hurt you, bankrupt you, derail your future etc.? Then go ahead ... spend it.

If you don't have that money to burn, then simple. Don't burn it.

Recently a friend of mine got married. His marriage was a blast. There were days of functions, of music, of masti, etc. It felt like I was back home in Bangladesh. Except it was all here in Toronto (or, to be precise, Brampton). I am guessing he has the money to burn. Who am I to tell him that this money is not going to buy him happiness? Maybe that's what he always wanted to do - have a huge blast at his wedding.

More and more millennials are now not following the older generation's lead in inviting every body in their contact book for their wedding. They invite only close friends and then have a huge party. What's wrong with that?

And also, there's nothing wrong if you don't want to spend that much. It's all a matter of what you want balanced with what you can afford.

When I was a student, I bought an old used car for $5K. Even that seemed a lot of money, but the car took me everywhere. I maintained it well and it served me for over ten years.

Then, when it broke down, I bought a brand new car for $25K. It did the same things as the first car did. I could have spent less, but I didn't. I wanted a new car, and I could alhamdulillah afford it. I knwo there's lots of comparisons between getting married and buying a car, so I am adding this one there as it makes the point.

I am not going to get into shaming anyone who had a big, beautiful, desi wedding. If you can afford it, and if you wanted it ... all the more power to you.

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