Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 45, Tuesday November 18, 2008


budget weddings
tips and trends

If you are lucky enough to have a large garden or grounds, you can save on the venue costs, and with a little creative thinking, also on the decorations. A
light and tasteful application of fairy lights is usually ample ornamentation, because the greenery does half the work for you. If you could plan a daytime
holud ceremony, you may not even need to splurge on lighting. One Purana Paltan wedding featured a daytime holud in the garden, with inexpensive
crepe-paper ribbons and hot steaming pitha and fuchka stalls recreating the atmosphere of a village fair. A little creative application can save you a lot of
money and even multiply the happy memories.

Come November, and it's wedding season. The scent of flowers, tinkling of jewellery, anxious parents, excited brides and grooms no matter where you are, you simply can't miss the celebration, the promise of a shared future! If you are getting married, or are the parent of a bride or a groom, this is perhaps one of your lifetime events. Marriages may be egalitarian, but weddings are always unique. Simple, elegant or simply splash out elaborate, everyone has a vision of what they want for a wedding in the family.

Considering that weddings cost almost twice as much as it would a few years ago, money certainly matters. The most crucial part of planning is knowing exactly how much to spend and what to spend it on. There are many cases of high spending, resulting in over-kill and debt, as there are cases of under-spending, leading to a ceremony left with too much to be desired. The key word you should bear in mind when drawing up a budget is 'realistic'. You need to come to an approximate figure before you can map out the big picture. Only when you have a comprehensive list of requirements can you truly assess what things are affordable and what are unreasonable. For instance, you may have your heart set on having a super grand wedding, but if that's at the expense of settling for a sub-standard honeymoon, you have got your priorities all wrong.

Once upon a time the cost of a wedding was pretty easy to calculate: the bride's parents pay for the lot. Then top it up with a dowry! Thankfully, that practice is looked upon as something from the Dark Ages and today there are no hard and fast rules for who pays for what. Depending on the financial status of the couple and their respective families, costs may be shared on any or all items relating to the wedding. While some parents offer help with a particular part of the wedding, others nowadays even give a gift of a specified cash amount and let the couple choose how to spend it. However, once you finalise your budget, you must emphasize on various categories such as the venue, reception, décor, food, clothes, jewellery, pre-wedding functions, etc.

The largest expenditure when it comes to the special day is the venue. Book a hall six to eight months before the wedding and make sure the contract says that the price is fixed, there are no hidden charges and the vendor does not have the option to hike the tariff. As wedding season approaches and demand soars, vendors may get tempted to increase the price of venues. Try to negotiate a combined rate for the venue and the food. Certain halls and hotels charge only for the food and the venue comes free. You might also want to look for unusual wedding venues. Outdoor spots cut the expenditure on hall bookings and improve other areas like food and decoration.

This is certainly not an area to lax in. Your guests will be talking about the food for days after the wedding and if the food turns out to be bad, they will be talking about it for months. Pick a caterer who comes with a lot of positive recommendations. Sit with the banquet manager well in advance, discuss the menu options and always insist on a tasting. Even if the food seems good at the tasting, fall back on recommendations to finally make your decision - food cooked in small quantities for the tasting may not taste the same when cooked for a big crowd. Consider options for food that are generally likely to suit the tastes of your guests.

The trend nowadays is to keep the décor simple. Elegant flowers, fairy lights and a nice colour scheme. Heavy drapes are saying goodbyes this season. Focus on oriental influence, which is all set to have a heavy impact. Choice of venue has a bearing on décor costs. You can save money on décor if you choose a banquet hall or hotel which is maintained and well lit. Small decisions can make a big difference to your budget. You can opt for seasonal, local flowers, which look just as good. Try and have an eco-friendly décor and reduce the plastic content in your decoration.

Make the most out of your creativity. While some colour and jewellery would be mandated by tradition, there is also scope for bringing out your individuality and personality. Most people here tend to go to India for their exclusive wedding wear. If you want to optimise costs, try and visit the wedding exhibitions that are held in India just before the wedding season. If you are on a budget, they may be rather expensive for you, so just understand the trends and once you get a handle on what you want, go ahead and explain it to an experienced tailor. You can have your dream outfit at a fraction of the cost. Keep reusability in mind when shopping as you would definitely want to mix and match them with the rest of your wardrobe. For jewellery, stick to the classics rather than short term trends. Lastly, do check out wedding magazines, which advise you what's in on the wedding couture front.

The trend for wedding invitation is contemporary right now. Invitations have emerged from being a roster of family names into focusing on just the bride and groom. You can be personal and creative with hand made cards or even calligraphy. Use recycled paper. Consult graphic designers for their unique ideas and spend some time in stores to look for better designs and cost effective prices.

To round up, you can spend as much or as little as you want. Since it is rare for weddings to go without any hiccups, you should be open to anticipation of trouble- a vendor who does not show up on time, shoddy work in the arrangements and more than usual guest turn outs. Your job is to be calm, plan ahead and organize well. A memorable occasion is what matters. You would want a wedding where a guest walks away with a smile on his/her face and remembers the experience for years. In the end, you could be Zen-like, it's your wedding day after all and you deserve to cherish it!

By Samah Hamza
Photo: Tanvir Murad Topu, Noor Alam


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