I’ve pretty much been been going to weddings my entire life.
In fact, the first one I attended was probably when I was in my mother’s womb. Being Arab – specifically Palestinian – meant that growing up, I attended at least 10-15 weddings a year. Calculate that by my age, and I have probably attended over 400 weddings in my lifetime. Now that’s a lot of time and money spent on supporting our friends and family on their special day.
But is it really that special?
Looking back at all the weddings I’ve attended, I can’t remember one distinctive memory that set one wedding apart from the other. It’s all one big, flower-scented, candle-lit, pulsing musical mess. So why do people go through all of that trouble to plan the perfect wedding? I’m sure some will argue that a wedding is a special day for the couple and especially for the bride, because it’s a day she has been dreaming of for years. But to a certain degree, weddings are planned for other people – so the guests can compliment the couple on a job well done, and the couple can preen in their love-induced glow.
I know what you may be thinking. It sounds like I’m bitter right?
And you’re probably guessing that I’m single… which is true.
But I really don’t have an issue with a couple celebrating their love in a big way. Many of my close friends and my sisters have gotten married, and I was right by their side in bridesmaid dresses and horribly high heels, planning bridal showers and bachelorette parties.
I have easily spent over $20,000 to travel to exotic wedding venues, purchase new dresses each time (because God forbid, we suffer a repeat, especially with social media), buying gifts, and attending to my hair and makeup, accessories, etc. Yet the issue I have is not with spending the money (okay, maybe it is a little), but more so with how spending the money affects us morally as a society.
Over the last two years, I have worked with Syrian refugees overseas, located in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. I have visited the refugee camps and have personally seen the squalor and destitute masses cramped into makeshift tents made out of tin and torn sheets.
So forgive me if I cringe any time I hear of a couple spending large amounts of money on weddings. I understand that if the couple can afford it, they should be able to do what they want.
But for those who do not have the means, yet go to extreme lengths to emulate their favorite celebrities or even their neighbor’s daughter’s best friend, well that’s a different story. It makes me wonder. I wonder why you would want to start your life as a couple in debt. I wonder what is missing in your life that is forcing you to pretend you can afford it all.
The purpose of a wedding is to announce to family and friends that you’re officially married.
It’s not a game of “who can do it better.”
Some of the best weddings I have been to have been low budget – the only extravagant expenses being the photographer and band.
My youngest sister had a wedding of 50 people, and I was the DJ. She had a photo booth, which was a huge hit, and she wore sneakers under her $400 dress. I have been to weddings where the couple has left notes indicating they donated the amount of money that would have been spent on favors to their favorite charity. I have seen weddings online where the couple has forgone the reception entirely and opted to serve the homeless or feed a refugee camp.
When I think about all the money I’ve spent on just weddings alone over the past years, I cringe.
That money could have gone to help someone truly in need. And if I could, I would opt to donate any future wedding gift amount to someone in need versus buying a useless towel rack or a set of dinnerware they will use once. But somehow I don’t think that would go well with my friends and family.
There is nothing wrong with spending money on your special day. For those with the means to do so, I just ask that you think of others and make sure to always give what you can to those less fortunate. When I see people spend millions on a wedding while giving no thought to the poor, it breaks my heart.
The reason why some have so much is to be able to give others who have so little.
And for those who do not have the means to throw an opulent wedding, please don’t. Spend within your budget, and think of ways to give back to those less fortunate. The only way we will be able to survive as humanity is by remembering those in need, especially in times of celebration.
Because really, who is going to remember the hand-painted wedding invitations anyways?