The financial burden of weddings in India’s poorest families has become a common theme in recent times. The recession has affected every sector of the Indian economy, but especially the weddings industry. The wedding season is a time when families have a huge rush to secure everything that they need for the upcoming occasion from cars to clothes to furniture. Worry not, however. With this high demand for the items on wedding tables, the cost of weddings in India’s poorest families has shot up and many poor families are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
The traditional wedding ceremony in India was once considered a symbol of social status and as such weddings were organized by well to do families at relatively high prices. The dowry system, in place since ancient times, dictated who could get married and thus dictated the price at which a bride would be sold to ensure her compliance with the social norms of her community. These days however, with the dowry system is gone and the economy liberalized, weddings are becoming more expensive. Even a simple village wedding can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in just one day – money that poor families do not have to dip into just to afford the wedding.
This in turn means that weddings, particularly for the poor families in India, are becoming a more expensive affair. This money that the bride and groom pay becomes a large burden for the family. The bride’s family takes care of paying the wedding venue (where the wedding is held), the reception hall, the catering, the floral arrangements, the gifts for the attendants (both male and female) and the honeymoon (if there is one). All this takes a large chunk of the family’s income and as a result, the family has to look to save as much money as possible. The wedding becomes a luxury and not a necessity.
In addition to the lack of need, comes the lack of resources. This means that the wedding planners in India are left with very few options. They either refuse to hold the wedding or cut down the quality of the reception in order to make ends meet. In the case of the first option, the families may even migrate from the village where the wedding is to be held to another village that is better off endowed. The second option means that the wedding planner has to compromise on quality and even that is difficult since most of the weddings in India take place in remote areas and many poor families lack the resources to arrange even a simple wedding.
In order to cater to the growing demand of wedding planners, Indian Wedding Planning Institutes have sprung up in recent times. These are specialized institutes that have made it their business to provide even the most remote villages with the opportunity of a low cost, high level wedding. By offering courses that even involve ground-breaking technology that is often in the form of computers and software designed to customize wedding services, these institutes are opening up many more opportunities for the families who want an expensive and exclusive wedding but cannot afford it. Even those families that can afford the most elaborate wedding are increasingly opting for this type of special occasion. This is because they understand what a special event such as this does for the families involved and are realizing that they can’t do it themselves.
With each passing day the number of people becoming involved in weddings is on the increase. Some of this rise is simply due to the fact that they have become aware of the problems that the wedding planners in India face. This has led to increased awareness among them and a gradual loosening of attitudes. However, in many areas the rise in popularity of wedding planners is also a result of the fact that they are getting more money than the families who arrange for the event. However, whatever the reason, the people in the villages that are in dire need of wedding planners are still waiting for their turn and the question of the financial burden of weddings in India’s poorest families is still unsolved.