Wedding Rites And Financial Markets

Monday, 13 April 2015
By Robert McDowall

Anthropologists assume that marriage one of the earliest social institutions invented. These rites vary from extreme elaboration to great simplicity. They may be secular events or religious ceremonies. Rites of marriage exist in many societies. They commence with ceremonies of betrothal, which require complex formalities of transfer and exchange of goods. The transfer or exchanges of goods are often regarded as compensation to the bride’s family kin group for their loss of the bride. Ceremonies of dramatic sham 'capture' of the bride by the groom and his relatives and friends have been common in both ancient and modern society.

The days when the bride’s parents were expected to bear all of the expenses of the wedding and reception are over. Traditional budgeting is not normally viable. It is perfectly acceptable to look to other options to create a modern spending plan. A consortium of people contributes different amounts to create a plan that meets the wedding expectation. The mix may doesn’t matter; everyone involved talks over these arrangements. What does matter is how all plan on sharing the financial investment – as early in the planning process as possible.

Traditionally, the breakdown of expenses was very prescriptive. The bride’s family paid for the groom’s ring, engagement party, the wedding and reception.The groom’s family financed the rehearsal dinner, the officials’ fee, marriage license, and the groom paid for the bride’s engagement and wedding rings and honeymoon. The bride just showed up for it all.

Today, any combination of financing other than asking guests for contributions to the budget as their wedding present is acceptable. Some couples pay for everything. Sometimes the bride’s family pays for half and the groom’s family for half. The funding may extend wider, where the couple pays one third and each side of the family fund another third.

Gold plays a significant role in weddings in the form of the wedding ring but gold play a significant role in the lavish Indian wedding tradition. Indians place an enormous value on gold. They consider no possession more valuable and enjoy flaunting their collections at weddings. The bride's family ensures that the bride is adorned in gold jewels. The jewels will serve as her financial security once she joins her husband. Indian girls start receiving gold when they are young girls, in preparation for their wedding day. The gold shows the prosperity and the social standing of the family. The display is not vanity but a culturally ingrained matter.

The amount of gold which a woman brings to a marriage gives her financial control and power in her new life. The gold she wears is a symbol that she deserves to be taken seriously; that she has her own assets aside from her husband's. Families and friends also offer the bridal couple gold bars and coins as presents.

The Indian wedding season starts in September and runs through January accompanied by heavy monsoon rains and the summer heat. Jewelers look for price dips in the months before to stock up on the yellow metal before demand picks up. Of course, Indian buyers always hope for deals when buying wedding gold, but the price is rarely a deterrent. Most households start saving for a marriage years in advance, so a small movement in the price of gold will not upset demand.

It is not surprising that, as India's population gets richer, global gold demand and consumption will increase. On average at least 30 to 40 grams of gold is involved in every wedding, with richer households averaging several kilos of gold at a ceremony. Economists predict that higher per capita income will cause the average amount of gold used in weddings to double over the next five years. India's rapid economic growth rate has bolstered the emergence of middle-class families, which along with the rich now outnumber India's poor population.

India is not the only emerging economy that fuel global gold demand. In Turkey gold is a customary wedding present. In Turkey brides receive a 22-carat gold set that includes a 60-gram necklace and a pair of earrings. The couple also buys gold wedding rings, a solitaire ring for the engagement, and more earrings. The total cost for wedding-related gold items averages almost $6,000.

Turning to other financial products, wedding couples may purchase wedding insurance to cover unexpected financial losses related to their wedding. In the USA, for example, instance loss or damage to the wedding dress or tuxedos (being the man’s choice of attire). Other items potentially covered by wedding insurance include lost deposits as a result of vendor bankruptcy, cancellation due to illness, injury, military service or extreme weather and third-party or liquor liability claims. Problems a couple knew about before taking out the policy are not covered and almost all insurers will not cover cancellations that are due to last minute "cold feet" and cancellation.

Wedding insurance in the UK is very different. These services are provided by a few major specialists. Wedding insurance can protect against a range of unfortunate events and ensure that those who finance the wedding are not out of pocket as a result. All aspects of the policy will have exclusions and cover limits and there will also be general exclusions. Wedding insurance can also cover loss or damage to wedding attire, such as the wedding dress, as well as presents, the wedding cake, rings, flowers and gifts for the guests. Cover starts a set period before the wedding and finishes a set period after – from seven days before to 24 hours after for wedding gifts but will vary depending on the policy. You’ll be relying on wedding services from a range of providers. Wedding insurance can cover any extra costs you incur up to the policy limit if something goes wrong with these services. Wedding insurance also covers deposits that cannot be recovered or the cost of arranging alternatives if suppliers go bust, but the consumer would already be covered by buy consumer protection legislation if the supplier was paid by credit card.

Betrothal and weddings are significant financial transactions!

This article is part of Robert McDowall's series on Folklore & Finance.