Dowry versus grand weddings

Finally it is starting to become fashionable (in some communities at least) not to take dowry. The bride’s parents ask about it as a matter of courtesy, and the most frequent answer is “no need of any dowry, but please arrange a really grand wedding”.

The wedding that was to take place today is one such case. Knowing that the bride’s parents are not really very well off the supposed-to-be-groom’s family said “no dowry but a grand wedding”. The bride’s father is supposed to have liquidated all his life’s savings in order to arrange for a grand wedding. it was supposed to take place in one of the largest wedding halls in Jayanagar.

Now, with the wedding getting cancelled, and several advances having been paid up, all that is gone down the drain. The bride’s father has just ended up being a much poorer man.

What if, instead, he had arranged for a simple wedding but wanted to give dowry? Assuming that most of the “costs” in this case would have been on dowry rather than wedding expenses, I argue that the poor old man’s losses would have been much lower.

For, hear me out loud, dowry is an investment, while wedding expenses are just that – an expense! Dowry is generally given in the form of? hard cash or gold or real estate – all that would come on the right side of an (Indian/English) balance sheet, and not be debited from the income statement. In case of a cancelled or a failed wedding (in case of a failed wedding, assuming that dowry is in girl’s name, it “comes back”), the amount set aside for dowry would actually be re-used! The father-of-today’s-supposed-to-be-bride wouldn’t have suffered half the losses he has actually suffered, and at least financially would have taken a much lesser hit!

Of course, as

has recently argued, dowry could also provide seed capital in case the groom wants to start a business. An expensive wedding does no good to his career.

Now, as I have been typing this, my mom has been looking my shoulder and now she is shaking her head. It doesn’t work this way she says. “Take someone like us”, she says. “We are well off. You are well off. We don’t really need any capital. What will we do with dowry? We would rather have a grand wedding, and maybe even share expenses”.

Maybe I was biased as i was looking at things from the point of view of a wedding that didn’t finally happen. Maybe, for upper middle class or rich families who can really afford an expensive day, and don’t have much use of dowry, a grand wedding would be useful.

For people who are not so well off, they are better off paying dowry! ?

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