Money and marriage in Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Money and marriage in Sri Lanka

Every bride and groom dream of a picture-perfect wedding they can fondly look back on years down the line. The occasion is the most significant in a couple’s life because it is the day when they are the centre of attraction. Naturally, they want to look and feel their best.

However, most weddings in Sri Lanka today, particularly, in urban localities have converted into grand tamashas. What is supposed to be a sacred function that enabled a couple to become joined together for life has now become little more than a grand exhibition of affluence.

What was meant to be the happiest days of a romantic couple’s life has become a practice in personal advertising to communicate the message: “Here we are, happily in love, and here is the carefully crafted wedding to prove it!” Many couples believe the more money they spend on this one-day event, the more likely it would be a success and leave guests feeling satisfied.

Low cost

This writer discussed with a few professional wedding planners on how to cut down costs on the wedding ceremony, without compromising elegance and quality. The following are their advice.

First, the couple must prepare a sensible and affordable budget for their big day. When planning the wedding, the would-be bride and her partner should have a good talk with each other, and understand each other’s expectation from the start.

Family members from both sides would want a say in the planning process, especially, if they are contributing to the costs.

They could also have strong views about ideas and traditions. The couple should be open to suggestions but remember that it is their big day (not others’). Both must exercise control and avoid spending money on something they don’t want.

A lavish wedding may not necessarily be more memorable. Apart from the planning, they must set the tone now rather than later, on how they wish to deal with finances as a couple. If they have a limited budget, but still want to have a grand wedding, there are ways of achieving it.

Instead of an upscale hotel within the city, choose a venue in the outskirts to save on costs. Wedding planners also suggest having the celebrations during an off season, since hotels and banquets offer deep discounts during this time.


Food is one area where you can save a lot. Avoid serving too many international items, as these increase the cost per plate.

Choose out-of-the-box décor

Traditional decorations for a wedding venue can eat into your budget. You can save by decorating your venue with lights and artificial flowers, instead of using fresh flowers and fabric. You can also enlist the help of local craftsmen or use upcycled objects to add an unusual touch to your wedding décor for a fraction of the cost

Get your outfit stitched, or rent it

Another major expense is that of wedding outfits, which are only worn once, but can be very expensive. Some designers now offer buyback schemes for wedding dresses. Another pocket-friendly trend is that of choosing a design and getting the outfit tailored locally. If the idea of renting your wedding outfit doesn’t seem appealing, you could consider reselling it on one of the many available portals, after your wedding.

Renting jewellery for the wedding is an emerging trend. Renting enables brides to wear designer jewellery at just a fraction of the cost. They can even browse around to find pieces that match their outfits perfectly.

Capture precious moments for less

It’s very expensive to hire a renowned professional photographer to shoot your wedding photos and videos. Instead, look up small-time photographers and freelancers who can give you a much lower rate.They also bring fresh ideas to the table.

Doing your research and making a few small changes would help save significantly on your wedding budget.

A ‘failed’ wedding

Anusha (not real name) married 10 years ago. Today, she has three children. She says, “Sometimes I look back and wonder why on earth we spent so much on our wedding. Back then, aged 27, I didn’t just want a wedding - I wanted a grand wedding. I had been catapulted into a fantasy world, where my loose grip on the reality of married life, splashed a lot of money on our wedding ceremony.”

“At the time, my partner had a well-paid job out of the country, so I felt that we could afford it although half of it were loans. My ‘must-haves’ included a ceremony in an exclusive hotel ballroom with free-flowing drinks as well as all the odds and ends.And then we ‘had to’ have a honeymoon on stilts in the Maldives and thereafter a 4-day tour of Malaysia.”

“But now I do regret the astounding cost of the whole affair. For four years we were settling the loans. I occasionally think of the security that money could have brought to our family when we really needed it.”

Happy wedding

Three months back, I was invited for a wedding ceremony of a known lady. There were no elaborate decors, a simple but eye-catchy ‘poruwa’ for the bridal couple at the wedding reception. There was no band playing but soft music floated from the background.

The young lady wore a simple yet elegant dress and the groom a white national dress. The guests too were in casual dress at the couple’s request. There was good food, good fun and plenty of good will. And the best of all at a minimal cost.

My young friend and her husband have proved that anyone can have a joyful occasion without spending too much money. Their wedding was one that none of us would forget.

Way forward

The tragedy of the increasingly consumerist culture we live in today is that not only young people but the elders too, who one would expect to think outside the box, are either holding on to wasteful traditions, or endorsing them. As a result, any desire to curb expenditure that was in vogue a few decades ago is now so thoroughly buried that one wonders whether it would ever resurface.  n