Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Lebanese crisis and the wedding industry

A vintage PVC cut-out illustration

If you were not living in Lebanon prior to the crisis, then you must have missed the weddings. Someone I knew who was getting married tried to explain to me the expenses then she just sighed and said "ca facture!" (it adds up!). The average price of a wedding in Lebanon prior to the crisis was in the order of 60,000 USD - about 40% covered by people pitching in to the newlyweds "marriage account" which would be at an Alpha Bank and clearly referenced in the wedding invite. The rest would be forked by (mainly) the wife-to-be's family. 

The of course came the honeymoon. For those less fortunate, it would be Turkey and for those wishing to do it on a higher level, then Thailand/Bali would be a good bet. A 300-400 guest wedding was par the course, and anyone who is anyone labelled themselves a "wedding planner".

But those were the days.

I live in  a Christian village and in the last 3 months there was about 4 weddings in my street - they ranged from a mother putting her daughter in a car and then going to the church, to one where "jeha w ahl bayto" (a local expression that means "just the family is enough") to one where there was not even the usual pre-marriage party. Mind you, funnily, in Lebanon there is a pre-wedding party where the groom-to-be crashes the bride-to-be's party and midnight (usually his own party starts a bit earlier) and they end up partying together. 

Interestingly, Lebanon being the hybrid mash of "things", there would also be pre-crisis a fad of "bachelor" parties when technically, the pre-wedding party was the bachelor party (funnily, someone I know said his soon-to-be wife was present at his bachelor party to make sure nothing hanky panky happened).

So basically, now that the whole brou-ha-ha and the let's-invite-everyone (seriously, a Lebanese blogger once wrote that one of the marriage questions "every couple asks" is "do we invite the company driver?") factors have been taken away. There is a new wedding industry coming up from the ashes - a non-industry of sorts. One where things are stripped down, the one where two people want to really, really, get married and become a couple and ultimately a family. Actually, all this joins my earlier advocation for a redefinition of the middle class in Lebanon (here).

And Alpha bank wedding accounts be damned.

Oh and by the way, please enjoy below a selection of marriage-related ads from days gone by...