'There's an increasing trend towards smaller Muslim weddings, here's why'
The pandemic coupled with the increasing financial pressures means couples and families are opting for smaller weddings, writes entrepreneur Sarah Gulfraz, the CEO of Peacock Supplies.
The wedding cycle has changed since the pandemic. Previously, the wedding season would get really busy during the summer months and peter out by October, with the quieter periods coming between February-March.
This year though, something is different: it feels like every weekend there is a wedding and it’s throughout the year now, not just in the summer period.
I have been thinking about why this is and what has changed.
We all remember the disruption of covid, lockdown and social distancing, which resulted in the cancellation of so many events, including those big, idyllic summer weddings, often planned years in advance.
Suddenly, it was no longer possible for anything to be planned in advance, so people, who didn't want to wait, opted for smaller weddings in intimate venues, and grabbed the opportunity whenever they could hold a gathering. It meant weddings no longer had to be in the summer months, and arrangements didn’t have to be so grand. People were just happy to be able to celebrate their marriage when and how they could.
I think that these modest-sized weddings have made us realise that you don't need to have a big wedding to have a nice wedding. In fact, in many cases these smaller celebrations felt more meaningful and special.
Interestingly, this sentiment is also more in keeping with the spirit of Islam where extravagance is discouraged.
Cost is a factor
There’s no doubt that the cost of weddings has driven this trend as well. Pre-pandemic, there was a feeling that costs were spiralling and the more extravagant the wedding, the better.
As couples have started to focus on more meaningful celebrations, they have thought about what is really essential. Increasingly, I'm seeing families combine the pre- and post-wedding events to save on costs.
Whereas before you could've had a day for the nikah, another for the wedding ceremony and then another for the walima, you can combine those gatherings.
As everyone feels the effects of increasing prices and inflation, it looks like a trend that will continue as families pool together and split the costs.
Parents, who may have traditionally been resistant to having smaller weddings, are now more amenable to the idea — after all, it's the parents who often foot the bill!
Couples are also aware of not spending as much on weddings. They would rather keep the money to save for a deposit on a house or spend it on an experience, like a holiday.
So how do you keep costs down?
The biggest cost is often the venue, so instead of renting a big venue, you can choose to have your gathering in an open area like a park or garden. Many go smaller still and do theirs in homes and masjids.
Even if you do hire a venue, you don't need to pay a professional décor company to do everything. They could do some elements, like the main stage on the wedding day, but other areas you could do yourself.
On what I call the 'smaller days', such as mehndi and nikah, the decorations can definitely be done in-house. For example, we have themed partywear that has a consistent and elegant look for such occasions.
The trends I've noticed
Whereas traditionally weddings were about people dressing up, eating and then leaving, these days I've noticed a shift towards making these events fun. It's about getting the guests involved as well.
On our website, I've noticed an uptick in interest in our interactive elements and games, so our photo props and selfie frames are amongst the best sellers. Branded balloons and accessories with words like "Dulhan", "Mehndi" and "Shaadi" also do well.
Personalisation is in demand too as people look for nice, modest touches rather than grand gestures. It's an area we’ll explore soon — where you can write names and personalise the accessories.
So, you see, there are many ways of throwing an epic small wedding. Cutting down on costs or numbers certainly doesn't mean it has to be any less of a celebration!