Afghanistan curbs wedding costs

I was flicking through Stylist magazine, which was given to me by our lovely Arsenal Stylist/Shortlist vendor on Wednesday I might add, while eating a slice or two of pizza this lunchtime, and came across an interesting piece in the Elsewhere section on page 10.

Entitled ‘Budget Bride’ it tells of how weddings in Afghanistan have become over-the-top, resulting in many young men going into huge debt, postponing getting married, or even deciding to “stay single forever”.  This deserved a closer look.

Get out the laptop, open google, type Afghanistan wedding curb, hit search, et voila, 21 and a half million hits in 0.28 seconds later up comes a full-blown article from the Telegraph (Lucia at work would be super proud of my speediness to get this information – she doesn’t understand how I can get an answer to a question before she’s even opened her browser). Here are the main points:

  • Unemployment across Afghanistan is very high
  • The average annual income is little more than a few hundred pounds
  • It is commonplace for an average wedding to cost £6,500
  • Many wedding guest lists include 600 guests
  • Well-off families may spend five times the average amount
  • Glass and neon wedding halls entertaining up to 1,500 guests with food and dancing have popped up in recent years (- a great step after years of aggressively oppressive rule under the Taliban)
  • Set lunch menus at the biggest halls currently typically begin at around £8 per head, not including cake, music or decoration

The Afghan government is now looking to ban the tradition of the groom paying the bride’s family a dowry and will limit weddings to 300 guests. The limit on catering would be set at £2.80 per head. This is all in a bid to  protect family life, stop the increase of sex before marriage and reduce the use of prostitutes.

Farid Ahmad Najibi, spokesman for the justice ministry, said:

“We are doing this because it is a big problem for young men and we must protect the family. Unfortunately in Afghan society when one of your relatives has a big wedding with lots of guests, you must have a bigger wedding or it is deeply shameful.”

So, I ask Messers Cameron and Clegg to think about whether we can bring in something similar here please. Ok, I know the situation isn’t quite as drastic as that of Afghanistan. If the average wedding costs £6,500 that’s nearly 22 times the average annual salary of $300.  I guess we’d have a long way to go to go for weddings in the UK to average $490,000 (the average UK salary in 2010 was £23,244). But let’s try and bring down the average UK wedding cost from £21k – nearly a year’s salary, which, in this economic climate and with the cost of housing and living, is a hell of a lot of money. And while we’re at it lets find a way to not make it out of the ordinary and bloody difficult to keep it small, simple and cheap. Let’s encourage against people trying to have a big do, wasting thousands and thousands of pounds on one ‘big day’ and let’s try and make it normal to put that money into your future together. Let’s focus on what the wedding should be about – the union.


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