JEDDAH: Saudis embarking on the journey of marriage are often concerned with the cost of it all. Wedding halls are expensive; a large number of guests means spending even more, not to mention the pressure from the need to throw an unforgettable party.
Weddings in Saudi are costly, and many associate that with the need for families to show off that they are better and richer than the rest; “the bigger your wedding is, the better.” Others succumb to peer pressure from their families, whether it be the groom or the bride’s, to satisfy societal expectations.
But mostly Saudis enjoy coming together during good times and they want their wedding celebration to be memorable, and to bring joy to the bride and groom — and their guests as well.
Ahmad Al-Saidlani, a financial analyst who was recently married, had much to say about his experience. “My initial budget was around SR100,000-120,000 ($26,664-$31,996), and that includes the wedding, dowry, pre-wedding celebration (melka), apartment rent, furniture and honeymoon expenses. It reality hit me later, of course, with many details that I couldn’t have calculated, and my marriage cost me more than SR200,000.”
“My wife-to-be and I had agreed to minimize our spending when it came to the celebration, because we could be spending that money building our life together instead.” The couple agreed on inviting those closest to them, amounting to 100 guests.
“That plan basically fell apart, however, when our families found out we had mutually agreed on cutting costs and that meant doing less for the wedding, inviting fewer relatives and friends, and not going all out with complementary details, with decoration, a singer, and the like.”
“The pressure she and I faced from both our families was extreme. My family wanted to celebrate and be able to invite many of our people; her family believed me to be controlling her and using her feelings for me to my advantage — and I understood that they only wanted the best for their daughter and for her to never feel lesser than her friends and siblings. But that took a complete toll on us, psychologically and financially, when all we wanted was to not end up drowning in debt as we’re just beginning to build the foundation of our life together.”
Amal Turkistani, retired mother of five, told Arab News: “I can assure you, at least in my case, it wasn’t to impress anybody. The point of celebrating lavishly was to show how happy I am for my daughter and to send her off lovingly. There are also societal aspects to keep in mind, of sharing that joy with others who have included me in their celebrations before.”
Nora Al-Nahi, an administrative assistant, spoke about the wedding her parents threw for her elder brother.
“My parents spent a fortune on his wedding, at least SR200,000; female guests topped 400 because my mom was overjoyed. They realized later on that a simpler wedding would’ve sufficed, and since then their extravagant wedding frenzy has ceased. My sisters and I agreed we’d never buy expensive dresses again — you end up never wearing them after that one night.”