Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wedding Economics 101

In Western countries weddings are expensive events for the happy couple and their parents, often depleting savings accounts or necessitating taking out a loan in order to pay for lavish reception venues and for feeding and watering guests, who tend to maximise their nutritional and fluid intake because it's free. Guest lists are often limited in number due to the financial constraints of budgeting for the cost of food and booze. In return, the bride and groom will acquire assorted small kitchen appliances, linen, wine glasses, serving trays and candle holders as gifts from the invited guests. In almost all cases, a wedding generates a loss on the balance sheet.

However, in Indonesia, a wedding can be a cashflow-positive project. Because venue hire and catering is very inexpensive, and most wedding guests will be non-drinking Muslims, there is no real financial limit to how many people can be invited to a wedding reception, particularly as the custom is for reception guests to come and go at any time during the reception. The clincher is that wedding gifts in Indonesia are almost always cold hard cash, which gives a handy start to married life for the newlyweds.

The key to a successful wedding in Indonesia is to use the following formula for determining how many people you invite to the reception:

Capacity of reception venue x 5

The formula ensures that the venue is packed for the duration of the reception, even if 75% of the invitees do not attend, and maximises your return on investment.

This explains why I've received wedding invitations from people I've met once or co-workers who I've spoken to for 5 minutes in 6 months. Being a bule (Caucasian) is probably another factor, since expats are considered a safe bet to be in a position to give generously to the bride and groom. And if it's an alcohol-free Muslim wedding, there's no chance for us to drink our way into the profits.


Blogger IndCoup said...

you haven't been in Indonesia that long and you're already as cynical as bloggers like Jakartass and myself!


1:39 PM  
Blogger The Editor said...

I've obviously been spending too much time reading your blog, so perhaps it's rubbed off?


8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gosh might be people just want to invite you to the wedding party just as a token of being nice and more than that to share what they think as a joyous moment with you...

I've been offering the same thing for my wedding in Indonesia to some bule friends...and guess what not because I want some generous cold cash as a gift (like your synical words) but more as a first hand experience of new culture....nothing more expected than to share it.

8:12 PM  

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