Issue 60 / Marriage, Mortgages and Manglasutras: Why We Need To Stop Overspending Our Weddings!

Marriage, Mortgages and Manglasutras: Why We Need To Stop Overspending Our Weddings!

Aug 24, 2016

With big weddings come big bills, with big bills come bigger problems: Why you should prioritize your partnership over your party.

The blushing bride shyly walks towards her groom, eyes downward as he basks in the dazzle of the flowers and jewels he’s adorned in to portray him as prince for the day. Love, sweat and tears intertwined with months of planning, family organizing (and possibly feuding) have all been put in to creating a lavish Indian wedding — the kind that the South Asian culture teaches to aspire to from a young age.

Anyone involved in any party planning can attest to how easily things can spiral out of cost control: often even with the best laid plans, weddings can rack up more expenses than expected. In the United States, an average Indian wedding costs approximately $65, 000 US with the wedding industry generating $4 to $5 billion US a year. Britain showed similar expenses (approximately £50, 000) including not only the wedding but pre and post party costs. Canada is no different with approximations at $100, 000 CDN and the high costs peaked enough interest for the creation of a documentary that aired in July 2016 called Little India, Big Business which takes a deeper look at wedding expenses.

Marriage in itself is an adjustment from an emotional, physical and spiritual standpoint. Couples are adapting to each other and new family members, all the while dealing with the aftermath of wedding expenditures. All that being said, marriages can easily start with a lot of pressure mixed in with the matrimonial bliss.      

In 2011, research showed the divorce rate in India had increased 100% in a five-year time span. The good news is, the South Asian community still has one of the lowest divorce rates in America. However, with financial conflict as one of the leading factors of divorce (across cultures), it’s important for couples to have the same mindset on money. The earlier the conversations on lifestyle expectations, incomes versus expenses, and needs versus wants takes place, the better. In particular when it comes to wedding planning, it’s crucial to approach it with logic and clarity to prevent getting lost in a whirlwind of excitement that can result in thousands in debt.

A wedding is a huge milestone and should be celebrated but we run into trouble when we financially prioritize the party over the actual partnership. Yes a wedding generates lifelong memories but it’s not more important than creating a long-lasting, healthy lifestyle. When it comes to wedding planning, it is easy to take a you-only-live-once approach but that can be an attitude that sets your relationship up for added stress.

Read our tips to how to stay grounded throughout the planning whirlwind and prioritize your partnership over your party.

couple, planning, budget
Plan your party budget with your partner.
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Set a budget: Have a realistic conversation with your partner first. Sit down, go through your incomes and savings, discuss mandatory wedding needs versus wants and decide what amount can be spent that will not result in debt.

Face the fear of family financial talk.
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Be honest with your families: For some, parents are footing the bill but that doesn't mean there’s an endless amount of funds. Approach your families with the budget you have set to come to understand what is feasible for everyone (it’s important to determine if costs are split amongst families and/or what the ratios are). It isn’t a fun conversation, and it can certainly be an awkward one, but it’s far less worse than families getting into later conflict about what should/shouldn't, was/wasn't spent. The last thing a new marriage needs is arguing in-laws.

bride, jewels
Jewellery is good but a house is better.
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Mortgage over manglasutra: We agree that every woman deserves a beautiful manglasutra or wedding ring. Jewellery is a huge part of the South Asian wedding tradition. A budget for the piece is something to consider. Women may be thinking "well that’s an expense for the man." But remember marriage is a merging of assets. His debt will become your debt (even with separate bank accounts you’re sharing a life). We are not suggesting depriving yourself but remember the best jewels don’t equal the best marriage. Jewellery can be upgraded later and shouldn't take priority over a home (the same goes for watches or other lavish gifts). 


Weddings are for joy not for gossip.
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Care more, compare less: Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop it. It doesn't matter what anyone else’s wedding was like.We need to recognize how detrimental unrealistic wedding expectations are to our community. A wedding is a time to celebrate joy. It’s not a playing field for who did it better. Don’t prioritize what people will think about your party over your partnership. Regardless of how much you spend, someone who wants to find something to complain about will. Don’t put your energy into creating a wedding that appears perfect on the surface leaving financial fights brewing underneath.

Main Image Photo Credit:

Rachna Sethi


Rachna (@thesassyspiritual) is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfuln...


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