A guide to your wedding finances

W hat used to be a union of two souls has regrettably become an ostentatious race for social prestige. Discounting dowry, the expenses of nuptial events are still soaring rapidly due to untamed expectations. Sometimes, the heavy yoke of payment is forcibly fastened onto the necks of ageing parents. At other times, 'wise' elders impose their 'sophisticated' decisions upon young couples.
Do not be fooled into believing that a daughter's marriage places greater financial burden. Brides and their families have jumped on the wagon to extract dowries. So much for equality! Shayla (not her real name) boastfully recalls how her in-laws paid a staggering Tk.1 crore for the wedding of their son. Shayla candidly tells us, without any remorse, that she coaxed her middle-class husband and in-laws into having a lavish wedding to match the standards of the elites.

Planning for a big, fat wedding?

According to social scientists, a grand wedding is one of the most foolhardy trends of recent times. Many believe that hoarding gold, which is a primary reason behind growing wedding costs, insures them from future uncertainties.
What they fail to realise is that during a natural disaster or a social breakdown, gold will severely depreciate in value. Who would want to barter in gold instead of basic necessities? It is more likely that one will exchange soap for a loaf of bread to satisfy their immediate needs!
Although land and precious metals are profitable assets, trading in them involves an obvious trade-off between the present and the future. Will you drain your lifetime savings into a single investment? How much of your present consumption can you comfortably sacrifice for this investment? You may not find a buyer immediately during emergencies. Safeguarding these assets from theft/robbery is also a major source of worry.

Put your money to better use

Land and house

These are lucrative assets as long as you understand the implications of such purchases. Avoid taking loans for these assets because the repayment along with interest will ultimately erode your profits.

Travel

Spend uninterrupted time with your spouse and escape from the routine stress of life. The experiences you gain from travel are truly priceless.

Social work

There is nothing more rewarding than to start off your marital life with the blessings of the underprivileged.

Means of transport

Not only are modes of public transport scarce, the owners/drivers will charge exorbitant fares or even refuse to travel. It makes perfect sense for newly-weds to own a vehicle of their choice, such as a car, bike, or cycle.

Interior d├ęcor

When an additional person joins the family or when the couple moves into a new house, certain extra furnishings and upholstery, such as beddings, separate wardrobes, study desks, etc. become indispensable.

Cost-effective solutions

Wedding costs can be minimised in numerous ways, such as the following:

Trim down your guest-list

There is no need to feel guilty for not inviting everyone you bump into, even if he/she happens to know about the occasion.

Go easy on the bling

Given that you may have to maintain the same posture (either standing or sitting) for a prolonged time, it is better to make yourself comfortable. Remember comfort and cleanliness spell out style. So leave the company of heavy jewellery, tight shoes, and strangulating clothing.

Limit the number of nuptial events

Generations ago there used to be two to three events, namely 'gaye holud' and 'biye' (reception being the bonus). If nuptial events are your only means of being social, it might be a good idea to explore alternatives that make you social and happy within the normal course of life.

Look out for cost-effective options

Lawns, duplex flats, spacious building-terraces and underground lots serve as great venues. Browse through several shops and bargain before you settle for your bridal attire and accessories. Do not employ event planners and other 'experienced professionals' for the slightest needs.

Average cost of a simple wedding

Samira Musleh, a student of BUET who got married recently, tells us that the total expense of nuptial events can be comfortably restricted to a price range of Tk.2-4 lakh. Baridhara DOHS Convention Center and Star Kabab Hotel and Restaurant's wedding floor (in Dhanmondi) are cheaper, with the former up for rent at Tk.1 lakh approximately. Basic decoration will cost you around Tk.12,000. Catering costs start from Tk.600 per guest. We are tired of tasting the conventional and costlier 'Kachchi biriyani' at every wedding. A menu consisting of mixed vegetables, korma, and plain 'polao' can be quite a refreshing change. Benarasi Polli (at Mirpur 10) is a haven for saris at realistic prices. Gulshan Sarees (located in Pink City Shopping Mall) is ideal for those who are good at haggling. Jotey Sarees (with outlets in Bashundhara City, Jabbar Tower in Gulshan, and Eastern Plaza) and Mone Rekho Sarees (in Bashundhara City) are other popular stores. For 'Anarkali' dress or gown-like kameez sets, Mansha (in Gulshan-2) is a rational option.
The wedding day is just one day of your entire marital journey. Remember, a wedding is only the start of a hopefully long and prosperous marriage. So plan ahead and do not squander your resources like there is no tomorrow!
--This article is written by Monica Islam and was publised in The Daily Star on March 08, 2015.