Spotlight: How COVID-19 has changed weddings

Muscat: As many around the world look at COVID-19 as the pandemic which stole the joy of life, a section of people may see it as a “blessing in disguise”. For them, the virus contributed to reducing marriage costs for many young people and removing the burden of dinner parties and many other things. It helped many new families in economic and social terms and changed the idea of marriages being a hugely costly affair.

This is due to preventing gatherings and closing of wedding halls as part of the government’s decisions to limit the spread of Coronavirus, which severely affected the shape and nature of life aspects and celebrations. As of now, it infected 90,222 people in the Sultanate and more than 29.3 million people around the world and led to the death of more than 927,000 globally.

There are many Omanis who get married at a much lower cost, where the cost of marriage before the pandemic amounted to thousands of riyals besides the dowry itself.

Not to mention the bride’s gifts, dinner parties for the newly-weds’ friends and relatives, engagement parties, and henna evenings in some families, where their expenses are almost equal to the whole wedding celebration. But in the time of Corona, with the directive of the competent authorities to limit weddings and close the halls, the expenses have decreased greatly.

Despite what some have promoted in favour of waiting until the end of the pandemic and holding ‘the wedding of a lifetime’, others called for not to postpone marriage and go ahead with the marriage plans at low costs. These marriages recorded a distinct model for completing marriages with the lowest costs and started already reshaping the prevailing concept of big weddings to family-limited ones.

Mahmoud al Rashidi, a citizen, said: “Now the marriages are taking place without exaggerated costs as a result of the precautionary measures against COVID-19. This reduced the psychological and material burden and re-focussed on the real goal of marriage: raising a family”

Salem Mohammed, another citizen, talked about the importance of rationing the costs that burden the groom and his family and creates a financial load. In some cases, monthly installments have to be paid by the husbands for years.

He added, “I advise those who are getting married soon to care about the most important thing which is the marital relationship, future goals, establishing a family, and not strive to show off all the expenses which don’t burden anyone but the husband”.

F Ali, newly married, mentioned, “Thanks to the Coronavirus, the costly marriage expenses began to decrease, as it prevented gatherings and cut costs of the henna night for the bride. Before Corona it was exaggerated and the amounts could reach thousands of Rials. This made young people avoid or postpone the idea of marriage.”

“Also honeymoon was expensive. But with the closure of airports and the imposition of curfews, time is now spent with family at home,” She added.

Muhammad al Balushi, a father of a newly-wed, explained “Coronavirus helped review some matters, including marriage. From my point of view, I see that marriage is one of the things that can’t be stopped due to a pandemic. We do not know when it will end. One of the positive things is the reduction in material costs, which was a major obstacle to those who were about to get married. This led to an increase in awareness and acceptance in society. Many individuals have reviewed themselves, rethought about the marriage as a concept, and its various aspects.”

Al Balushi continued, “Many think that marriage is not complete without an expensive and luxurious ceremony, or in the presence of a large number of people indicates generosity, all of which is not a criterion for achieving happiness.”