By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: In 2020, the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic led people to adjust their traditional approaches to celebrating weddings, opting for simpler gatherings due to restrictions on the number of attendees. Many couples even chose to forego wedding parties altogether, redirecting their funds towards travel and longer honeymoons once the pandemic subsided. Fast forward to 2023, and this new trend has gained further traction, particularly among Kuwaiti citizens who prioritize enjoying their resources over splurging on lavish wedding ceremonies.

However, some remain unconvinced, viewing this shift as contradictory to local customs and traditions. Kuwait Times interviewed a couple who decided to cancel their wedding party. Preferring to remain anonymous, they highlighted the exorbitant costs associated with modern Arab wedding traditions, which often burden the groom with significant debt. Furthermore, the pressure to invite a large number of guests places a substantial responsibility on the couple to provide top-notch hospitality.

The couple stressed that the decision to forego a wedding party is a personal choice, but they faced resistance from their families who were accustomed to extravagant celebrations at the country’s finest venues. To appease their parents, they hosted a small reception party upon their return from their honeymoon, inviting only close relatives. They concluded by suggesting that this new approach to marriage may take time to gain acceptance in the community, as many are still attached to the tradition of grand wedding parties that became essential over the last decade, despite simpler and less financially draining weddings being the norm in the past.

Another Kuwaiti couple that values wedding parties for their social significance also shared their perspective. They believe that the issue is not solely about having a party but the social connections it fosters. They chose to celebrate their union with a modest gathering of friends and family, but some criticized it as being too simple.

The bride, however, described it as a wonderful event, one that challenged societal norms. Many Kuwaiti citizens and expatriates continue to embrace the tradition of extravagant wedding parties, and hotels and wedding halls still witness a constant stream of celebrations. However, a proportion of couples, especially those from diverse backgrounds or with financial constraints, are adopting the idea of simpler weddings.

Marriage announcements

Kuwait Times also sought public opinion regarding the question of marriage announcements. Many individuals emphasized the importance of announcing marriages as part of Arab culture and traditions, thus disagreeing with the idea that forgoing wedding parties is an acceptable way to wed. Kuwaiti citizen Afraa Mohammad noted that some people merely follow trends, while others use financial excuses.

However, she emphasized that announcing weddings through parties is an essential practice. Expat Arwa Abdulsalam agreed, stating that wedding parties hold particular significance in conservative communities. In contrast, more liberal communities are accustomed to such trends, which may reflect a forward-thinking approach to building a better financial future. She concluded by asserting that wedding announcements within traditional communities contribute to the strengthening of social relationships.