Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense is bestowed" (Mishkat).
Yet, every year, we attend or organize weddings that involve the extreme opposite. These practices range from holding the event in ostentatious banquet halls to doling out overpriced trinkets as gifts for guests.
Everyone wants their wedding day to be special, and it should be. But spending countless hours and dollars to do so is not only unhealthy from a spiritual perspective. It also places unnecessary community pressure on future brides, grooms and their parents to match the trend. It's time we revived the Sunnah of simpler weddings. Here are a couple of ways to start.
1. Bargain for your banquet hall
You don't have to settle for the unfinished basement of a community center when it comes to deciding where your wedding will be held. But plush carpets and chandeliers shouldn't be a requirement either. If your guest list is small, consider a nice but moderately priced restaurant to hold your bash in. The added benefit of this arrangement is that they will most likely give you a deal on the food.
On the other hand, if you've got not only local family and friends but the entire clan from abroad attending, a hall may be your only option. Still, you can bargain for your banquet in various ways: paying early; booking on a Friday; choosing a simpler hall if there are others in the building.
The best way to shave costs in this area: find the largest, nicest Masjid within a 50-mile radius and hold your wedding there. Consider the blessings you'll get for all the guests who hear the Adhan, participate in congregational prayer and maybe even put some charity in the mosque's Sadaqa box before they leave.
2. Keep the menu simple, simple, simple
After the banquet hall, food is probably the largest expense in most weddings. Offering your guests the best kind is part of good hospitality, a hallmark of Muslim culture. However, this can be exercised without offering ten different types of entrees at dinner and three kinds of dessert. While individual tastes vary, there are almost always a couple of dishes that will get the most thumbs up in any culture. Pick these and drop the others.
Also, consider holding the wedding during lunch time, not dinner. This helps cut costs as well.
Finally, don't forget to donate leftover food to a shelter or needy families in the area after the event.
3. Wear something “sentimentally borrowed”
Consider the sentimental value of wearing your parents' wedding apparel, especially if they were non-Western clothes. You may have gagged even thinking of doing this in high school. But consider how much simpler this is than getting new clothes made and shipped from abroad. Also take into account the headache of getting them adjusted in time for the big day if something doesn't fit properly.
Remember that whether you're wearing a tuxedo or a traditional Arab Thobe, a white wedding dress or a South Asian Gharara, you will wear these items barely twice after the wedding before they are put away for life. Reusing wedding clothes is not only cost-effective, its planet-friendly and relatively stress-free.
4. Give new meaning to the term “no boxed gifts, please”
It's not uncommon to find this request listed on wedding cards nowadays, especially for couples who will be moving away or already have their living arrangements set before getting married. But to make your wedding even simpler and to add to your blessings, consider including this line as well: “In lieu of gifts, please consider making a donation to [enter charity of your choice].” A number of engaged couples in the United States have started creating online donation registries http://www.azcentral.com/families/articles/0129fam_charity.html
This not only frees the guest of the obligation to give a large amount of cash as a wedding gift in these hard economic times. It also provides them an opportunity to do a good deed privately, based on their own ability to give, thanks to your generosity.
5. Drop or scale back those guest gifts
I'm not sure when the obligation of giving gifts to wedding guests started, but it's one that just adds to the trouble and expense the Prophet was talking about. If you feel uncomfortable dropping this unnecessary practice altogether, then offer something useful, simple and memorable. For instance, business-card sized paper mementos with the date and basic details of the wedding on one side and some moving or humorous quotes about marriage on the other. Even better, you could give tree seeds that guests can plant in their yards in honor of the bride and groom (the Prophet considered tree planting a form of charity, particularly those from which fruit comes from).
6. Print your own invitations and consider the email option
Take customizing wedding invitations to a new level and print your own. Borrow a friend's flashy printer or get it done at an office supply store. Also, when possible, send email invitations with an attached PDF file of the original card so that guests can print the info.
7. Skip the limo
This is another one of those “don't know where it started from” trends that is an expensive hassle, not to mention bad for the planet. If your most fuel-efficient car is too worn out to be presented as a wedding chariot, then consider renting a golden or silver-colored hybrid vehicle for the big day.