In an attempt to overcome financial problems facing new couples and to combat crippling price hikes, a Saudi wedding planner launched a project that allows youth to pay wedding costs in installments.
Abeer Hussein, the manager of a wedding planning center, conducted a study that looks into means of facilitating marriage for low-income groups, especially men who are always overwhelmed by expenses.
“I got the idea when I had a client who couldn’t pay the full cost of the wedding due to his financial situation,” she told Al Arabiya.
Hussein said that wedding costs are among the burdens men worry about when getting married.
“Traditions have led to a certain expectation on standards of weddings and not everyone can meet them. In fact, many marriages do not work because of this.”
The project, Hussein explained, does not target profit but basically aims at offering a service for young people.
“I have so far married off 26 couples using this system.”
Among the factors that make weddings sometimes more expensive than necessary is lack of proper organization which makes the cost of some weddings amount to half a million riyals.
“For example, there are some secondary items that can be discarded without affecting the quality of the wedding itself.”
Regarding the installment system she offers at her center, Hussein said that the groom can pay 2,000 riyals ($533) in the beginning then pay the rest of the costs on installments with an average of 700 riyals ($187) per month.
“It doesn’t matter if the client works in a government institution or a private company or even unemployed.”
Hussein’s center does not only work with individuals, but also makes special offers to companies who are interested in facilitating marriage for their employees.
“Furniture and electric appliances companies are among my most regular clients.”
According to analysts, high marriage costs in Saudi Arabia are among the main reasons that a large number of men decide to stay single or marry foreign women because they do not have financial demands. This, based on latest statistics, has resulted in a remarkable rise in the number of unmarried women and which has reached 1.5 million.
A study conducted by the Medina-based Osraty Charity Organization, revealed that the number of unmarried women is expected to reach four million in the coming five years.
Experts estimate the average cost of marriage in Saudi at 150,000 riyals ($40,000) per person. This amount is divided between the dowry, the wedding, housing, and personal items. This forces many young people to take bank loans which later cause them a lot of financial trouble that might eventually lead to divorce.
The role of social customs, the study added, is not only confined to the wedding having to meet minimum requirements, but also the fact that brides are usually adamant on having big weddings and keep comparing themselves to their friends. Many families also find it unacceptable to marry their daughters off without a wedding.