Manama: When it comes to saying “I do”, Kuwaiti couples do not shy away from spending money. Huge amounts of it.
According to figures published in August, Kuwaitis spend 235 million dinars (Dh741,230) a year on getting married.
The average cost for a middle-class family is 35,000 dinars while rich families spend up to one million dinars for a single wedding, Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas reported.
The costs often depend on the latest trends and fashions, the reputation of the singers and the standards of equipment and services.
According to the daily, the number of weddings celebrated every year is between 6,000 and 9,000.
Kuwaitis attribute the exorbitant amounts to changes in the mindset of society.
“In the past, things used to be really simple and straightforward,” a Kuwaiti man said. “Today, wedding celebrations have become an ostentatious show, an exhibition that the families want everyone to talk about. Many people are pushed beyond their financial limits in order to meet all demands and fulfil the wishes of the families. The major result is that the bride and the groom start off their married lives with debts and financial burdens.”
Kuwaitis said that a recent trend is to hire a wedding planner to organise the ceremony.
“This is a new concept in the Gulf that we used to see only in movies,” the Kuwaiti said. “Now, it is making its way into the Gulf, and the immediate result is the steep rise in the costs of ceremonies. Of course, not all planners charge the same amount, but the details make the difference.”
Emad Al Samhan, one of Kuwait’s most famous planners, said that some wedding ceremonies in Kuwait cost up to 250,000 Kuwaiti dinars.
He explained that some families want an epic wedding and bring in famous singers who perform for about 90 minutes at the cost of $250,000 (Dh918,287).
“Most wealthy families hold the wedding ceremonies at their homes where they have large spaces, but around 25 per cent of the families go for luxurious and famous hotels where between 500 and 700 guests attend. Usually, around 1,000 invitation cards are given to guests. With each card costing between 8 and 10 Dinars, you can see that the cost for just the wedding invitations is at least 8,000 Kuwaiti dinars,” he told Al Qabas.
Some families in their quest for “fame” insist on importing the food from Paris or London. Others order the flowers from Holland. Some hosts insist that their VIP guests be given gold or crystal cutlery for the food. Gifts to guests include boxes containing very expensive perfumes or incense.
In other instances, families insist that the large chairs of the bride and groom be adorned with expensive natural roses and bars of gold.
Khalid Al Saleh, another wedding planner who assists both upper and middle-class families, said that the details are often worked out carefully.
“The groom or the family informs the planners about their budget for the ceremony, so that they can work out the details within the financial confines,” he said. “The planner presents suggestions and once they are endorsed by the family, they are carried out.”
Al Saleh that the amount spent today by middle-class families is the same that upper-class families paid for their weddings 10 years ago. “Prices and costs have gone up, and both families and planners have to cope with the increases. For instance, the cost for the natural flowers to adorn the stage is so high nowadays.”
Faced with the formidable financial challenges, several young Kuwaiti couples are choosing to stay away from ostentatious behaviour.
“Many have reasoned that instead of spending the money on a lavish wedding celebration, they can use the money to go on an outstanding honeymoon in Europe or the Far East,” the report said.
“Many young people no longer want recognition for their celebrations and prefer to travel abroad. The families use all means to inform their relatives and friend[s] about the weddings of their sons and daughters and there is no need for the wedding parties.”