September, 2019
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Weddings: An expensive affair for guests

wedding-vinder-1By Vinder Sandhu

Weddings have become big business in the South Asian community in the last decade. In fact every year, they are becoming bigger and bigger, each more extravagant than the previous. It seems to grow on its own, morphing into an uncontrollable monster gulping down tens of thousands of dollars in its way down the aisle.

I love weddings, love to attend them — but only one or two a year please. Why only one or 2?

See South Asian weddings are expansive not only for the bride or groom, but also for the guests, especially if you are a relative. Even as a relative there are various degrees of cost for the guest. If you are a distant “same village” category relative, than you are okay as cost won’t be too high. You are looking at 1 or 2 celebrations to attend at the most, usually the wedding ceremony, and or, the ladies gidda.

If the relative is close, say second cousin, than your attendance is requested at 2 to 3 celebrations and that too based on personal relations with the couple or at least with the parents. If you are a blood relative, i.e., the bride or groom is your niece or nephew, or a cousin or sibling, now you are looking at the whole enchilada of the wedding. The wedding ceremony, the ladies night of which there are at least 2 evenings of festivities one including the “churra” (bangle) ceremony, the reception, the get-togetherof the two joined families a few days after the wedding, about a total of 5-6 events. If you are part of the bridal party than you are also looking at the bachelor/bachelorette party, which of course equals more cost.

All these events are fun, no denying that – it’s just that at each event, you as a female attendee will need to have a different outfit each time. Why? Peer pressure, that’s it.

We are talking the whole outfit will need to be different, have to be current in fashion and nicer than the last one worn, culminating to the best outfit to be worn at the reception. If you want to wear an outfit worn previously, it has to be “new” to the crowd you are going to be part of.  Hence if you have more than one close relative wedding in the same year from the same family group, i.e. the wife or husband side, you are hooped as you will need new outfits for all. If you are lucky, each wedding will be from different sides so you can at least recycle the outfits.

The last time I checked prices of South Asian/ Indian clothes, they are not cheap. The outfit by itself, ready-made and if nice, is around $200 dollar minimum. If you decide to have new tailor made outfits, you are looking at buying the fabric which itself can be anywhere from $75 dollars and up. The lower the price of the fabric, the less its “wow factor”, and then getting it tailored. We all know good tailors are expansive, average cost for a simple outfit can run anywhere from $50 to $75 dollars, adding to the cost of the outfit.  The accessories are a must; we are looking at bangles or bracelets, earrings, and rings. Those things don’t come cheap, a jewellery set consisting of necklace and earrings, can easily cost anywhere from $75 dollars to hundreds of dollars per set depending on how much bling you want. This is conservative blinging it up. Most ladies will have their hair and make-up done professionally for almost each event; let’s not forget the nails, latest in style for that too.More kaching.

Conservative price for the above listed items can make one outfit cost anywhere from $300 dollars to $500. That’s a lot of change for an outfit that won’t be wearable for the next wedding. These days with Facebook and Instagram postings, women have been called out by trolls for wearing the same outfit at different weddings in the same year!

Now let’s multiply that by the 5 or 6 events at $300 dollars each. (I’m calculating that hair and make-up was only done professionally for 2 events) you are still looking at $1500 to $1800 dollars total for a wedding where you are required to attend about 5 events. Now that cost is only for the woman’s outfit, we are not accounting for any other family members.  Thankfully men can wear almost the same outfit with a different shirt, so their requirement is only about 2 pairs of pants and maybe 4 shirts and a couple of different ties to round of their look. And they don’t have the peer pressure to wear the latest design or a different outfit every-time.  If you have children, the cost goes up, thankfully the younger children don’t cost as much as say, a teenage daughter or two.

I haven’t even factored in the gifts yet. In south Asian weddings they are a few ceremonies where cash blessings are given to the bride and groom at some of the events. There are more ceremonies for the bride and therefore more cash blessings. The amount is usually determined by the relationship and closeness with the family, and it can run anywhere from $100 to $200 dollars, not including the actual present, which is usually money as well. That again is determined by the relationship, but on average it’s a minimum of $50 dollars if distant “same village” relationship.

As we can see the cost does run up for the guests and with no let up on peer pressure many women feel they have to conform to the status quo. Weddings are great and expansive at the same time.

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