The wedding of Muriel & Mario, narrated lucidly in this blog, is but only a
shadow of their selfless service to society. Extraordinary pathblazers,
brave & courageous, and dedicated to the cause of social justice for those
living on the margins. More power to M&M.

Thank you ever so much, Rico & Cleona, for sharing this awesome story of an
amazing couple!

Best
Rowena

On Sat, Mar 10, 2018 at 9:33 AM, Frederick Noronha <
fredericknoro...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Wedding on a budget: A 250 guest wedding for less than £100
>
> 3rd January 2017 By Cleona <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/author/cleona/> 7
> Comments <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/weddingonbudget/#comments>
>
> Muriel and Mario – M&M – two serious activists who lived in my village,
> Saligao, in Goa (India) dramatically inspired and informed my views on
> wedding budgets. Understanding their values-based spending also gave me
> true insight, very early on, into a conscious relationship with money
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/financial-integrity-exploring-conscious-relationship-money/>,
> the focus of many of my blogs.
>
> Although I was only a child, 9 years old or so, I remember it vividly both
> from inside the small chapel and later, at the reception.  The weddings I
> had attended until then had the usual run of the mill offerings; unlimited
> soft drinks, a huge food buffet, a wedding hall that could host a football
> game, a live band, hundreds of people and in Goa, the wedding couple
> arriving at least 2 hours late. *Yawn*.
>
> This one was unique. Years later, talking to the couple, as an adult, I
> learned other details about this unusual wedding and want to share how M&M
> planned it – keeping in mind their values, their work as social activists
> and the community that was important to them.
> *Dress local*
> [image: The happy couple]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/19_couple_end.jpg>
>
> The happy couple
>
> Their attire was simple. The bride wore a plain, cotton *saree*
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sari>, with ethnic, hand dyed, *bandhani*
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandhani> – tie-and-dye – motifs in red
> and green: traditional wedding colours in Goa.  The groom wore a cream,
> traditional Indian *kurta-churidar,* made from *khadi
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khadi>,* a local fabric hand woven from
> hand spun, cotton thread.
>
> At the time, the usual custom in Goa was to wear Western outfits – a
> weighty, lacy, flowing, gown-styled white wedding dress for the woman; for
> the man, a dark suit was standard. This western influence was due to the
> Portuguese colonial presence in Goa, and of course, such costuming was
> wholly inappropriate for the weather. A hot and humid summer wedding, left
> the bride ‘glowing’ profusely, while the long sleeved groom sweated
> silently under his often double-breasted jacket and trousers, always
> tailored from heavy polyester or nylon blended fabrics.
>
> M&M’s outfits were different. They dressed local. There was no fancy
> service or orchestrated Mass. They invited *everyone* they knew: family
> and all friends, as well as the people from an entire hutment colony, with
> whom they worked.  Most of the hutment dwellers had never witnessed a
> Catholic wedding before. There was no scarcity mindset with the guest list
> – like I said, they invited everyonethey knew.
>
> *Inclusive and Warm*
>
> [image: church]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/church.jpg>The
> small chapel was packed and heaving with people from all sections of
> society. I really enjoyed seeing how inclusive M&M were; and the warmth and
> diversity in the room.
>
> As is conventionally done, M&M did not sit directly in front of the
> altar.  Instead, to emphasise that this was a community celebration, they
> sat on the side, close to their family.
>
> Many of the hutment dwellers entered the chapel late.  They were
> embarrassed to enter a church full of ‘well-dressed’ invitees and so, stood
> at the doors and windows, peering inside, curiously.  Seeing this, the
> bridal couple did the unthinkable: they stopped the service! The groom went
> to the door and ushered the crowd in, right up to the front.  There was no
> place for them to sit, so most of them crowded near the communion rails,
> just in front of the altar.  Others sat in the pews that some of the
> couple’s friends thoughtfully vacated for the new guests.
>
> During the ceremony, the hutment dwellers walked up to the couple and
> tried to give gifts.  The bridal couple seemed to handle all of this with
> ease; I remember feeling very amused, never having witnessed these sorts of
> interruptions in a church or chapel (be solemn!) ever before.
>
> The congregation watched this crazy move in hushed amazement, some in
> utter disbelief.  This poor (financially only), apparently non-Christian
> group, sporting home clothes, worn daily in their hutment colony, now
> occupied seats with the best view in the chapel.
> *Chai and biscuits for all*
>
> [image: Hutment dwellers squatting]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/xx.jpg>After the
> ceremony, the guests were invited to an empty space behind the chapel where
> tea (chai) and coconut flavoured biscuits were served. There was no seating
> so people huddled together in small groups, thus encouraging interacting
> with the bridal couple and between families.
>
> The couple’s more middle-class friends did the serving while their hutment
> friends made themselves comfortable. The older folk from among the poor,
> squatted on the bare, stony ground, and their children ran around and
> played merrily.
>
> [image: 14_teabis_2]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/14_teabis_2.jpg>It
> was so simple. I had never seen anything like it! I could also eat as many
> biscuits as I wanted guilt- free – and I know now, it didn’t hurt their
> pockets too much. They also encouraged a *‘no gift’* policy which was
> unusual for that time. Weddings and parties were definitely about receiving
> gifts back then.
>
>
> *A 250 guest wedding for less than £100!*
> [image: No elaborately decorated Mercedes Benz]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/scooter.jpg>
>
> No elaborately decorated Mercedes Benz
>
> The wedding budget and spend for the entire event was as ordinary and
> simple as the ceremony: the couple spent not a paisa (like a penny but in
> Indian Rupees) more than Rs. 1,000/- on everything. Inflation and currency
> adjusted, this would be £97.38 in today’s money (or less than Rs. 8,000/-).
> This is still unbelievable for the cost of a wedding!
>
> So, lets breakdown this wedding budget. While Muriel’s *saree* cost Rs.
> 125/-, Mario’s full outfit was considerably less at Rs. 80/-.  The *mangala
> sutra*  <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangala_sutra>– a traditional
> necklace worn by Indian women, after marriage,the 2 wedding rings and the
> bride’s 4 bangles were intentionally made of silver.  Gold was symbolically
> shunned.  And because the white metal came from silverware that the family
> already owned, only making costs were paid for.
>
> To match her *saree* colours, the bride wore common, red and green glass
> bangles with the silver ones bordering them.  The leather slippers they
> wore, were old pairs used on occasions.  And the trademark, shoulder bag
> the groom carried, was made from waste pieces of leather, hand stitched by
> himself.
>
> Invitations were basic, they were typed out in red on yellow paper and
> posted.  Likewise, instead of the fancy wedding limousine, the couple
> pillion-rode themselves to church on their trusty little, 50 cc, scooter.
> *Shop local, helps wedding budget*
>
> [image: 12_teabis_3]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/12_teabis_3.jpg>The
> tea for the reception was ordered from a roadside tea-stall opposite the
> chapel and served by the couple’s friends in the ordinary, small, ribbed
> glass tumblers that tea is traditionally served in, at all roadside tea
> shops.  ‘Coconut Crunchee’ biscuits – a slightly tastier variety, for the
> special occasion – were bought at wholesale rates in bulk packs, so that
> everyone could have as many as they wanted.  M&M were thrilled to see the
> hutment children eat as much as they could and stuff their pockets to take
> back to their siblings and friends left at home!
>
> Their major expense was photography.  The couple decided that photo
> documentation was important, so they ‘splurged’ on the 4 rolls of film that
> a priest friend covered the event with.  The film, development and printing
> cost nearly 50% of the whole budget!
> [image: Cringe! Matching outfits:)]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/18_3_angels.jpg>
>
> Cringe! Matching outfits:)
>
> And oh yes, the couple had a bouquet of fresh flowers.  No artificial,
> plastic flowers for them.  But as tradition would have it, the flowers did
> not come at the beginning of the ceremony.  In M&M’s own words,  “3 little
> angels” (my younger sisters and I ), dressed in pretty lemon dresses with
> red sashes and socks to match, presented them with an assortment of freshly
> picked, wildflowers and bougainvillea from the chapel compound.  It was the
> perfect, heart-warming way to end a wedding ceremony, they confessed 30
> years later.
> *Enlist the help of family and friends*
>
> As you have seen, a couple planned a cost-efficient wedding and with the
> help of family and friends, executed it perfectly.  So for me, this
> invitation to a simple wedding, celebrated love, simplicity, community and
> inclusion – the experience of it informed my own values and opinions
> on wedding budgets. So much so, that I planned my own wedding keeping this
> simplicity in mind. When I emailed Muriel and Mario recently and might I
> add 29 years later, writing to them about my idea for a blog and everything
> I remembered, they happily agreed to cooperate. Also, their main intention
> is to spread their idea of spending consciously, including on weddings.
> Although they shun publicity, they were willing to share even private
> wedding pictures with the world – fuelled by this beautiful longing to
> contribute. For this, I am so grateful to them again.
>
> “Really the only security is to be found in community: the gratitude,
> connections, and support of the people around you. If you have wealth now,
> I recommend, as your investment adviser, that you use it to enrich the
> people around you in lasting ways” – Charles Eisenstein
>
> *My own wedding budget*
> [image: Natural available materials and sand...]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Our-beach-wedding.jpg>
>
> I walked down this sandy aisle…
>
> In turn, when I got married, in 2012, it was a simple affair and a simple
> wedding budget. All in, I spent less than £1,200 on the actual event. It
> was a beach wedding in Goa – a casual affair just like I dreamed. My family
> and friends helped me execute the details. Family members helped to make a
> little sand shaped heart, from the abundant beach sand, in which we stood
> to make our vows in the evening sunset. We didn’t pay for the venue – the
> restaurant just gave a section of it to us after my aunt managed to sweet
> talk the owner into this. Although I was happy to pay more for the food,
> she kicked me under the table when negotiating, so I decided to keep out of
> it.
>
>
> [image: My cousin Alisha, a chef, baked this beauty!]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/cake.jpg>
>
> My cousin baked this beauty!
>
> I bought a second-hand dress on Ebay by *Forever Unique*, a luxury
> fashion brand. Post wedding, I sold it for the same price I bought it for
> (all of £50). I invited 35 guests which is unusual for an Indian wedding.
> My mother was instructed not to invite anybody – she found this incredibly
> hard and yet, for the most part, obeyed instructions. And a friend of mine
> who has a successful alcohol business provided the cocktails; I later found
> out when I tried to pay for it, this was a gift! I had one bouquet of
> flowers which were bought from the local flower market by my sister. And
> the delicious cake was baked with love by Alisha, my cousin, friend and
> cake goddess. It didn’t break the bank. Not one bit. And from the great
> feedback from the guests, they all had fun. Fun was important to me.
> *Extravagant weddings – not a fan*
>
> Often, I get asked, “Ah, you are Indian – so did you have a 3-day
> wedding?”. Well, not all of us do, although we love celebrating for sure.
> Some weddings are grander than others including a £15 million wedding by
> Sanjay Hinduja
> <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/11411381/Indias-most-eligible-bachelor-Sanjay-Hinduja-marries-in-15m-ceremony.html>,
> complete with Jennifer Lopez performing and no expense spared.  Wedding
> trousseau’s, traditions, spending to keep up with the Joneses or well,
> D’Souza’s in this case and inviting people (because they invited us or what
> would they say) does not feel authentic to me. And yet, everyone is
> entitled to spend and celebrate as they wish, in line with their own
> values. My only wish is for people to really be conscious and spend with 
> financial
> integrity
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/financial-integrity-exploring-conscious-relationship-money/>;
>  choosing
> to spend based on what is important to them, not what society dictates or
> to keep up with ‘looking good’.
>
> When I read about extravagant weddings, like the Hinduja £15 million
> wedding, my thoughts go to how that money could have been better utilised.
> A quick search on Google reveals that the average English wedding costs
> about £24,000. I would rather save that towards something more useful. I
> worked with a colleague who was heavily in debt and yet took a large
> personal loan to give his girlfriend the marriage of her dreams – I thought
> it was most unromantic to start a marriage in debt!
> *Thank you, M&M*
>
> I chose a modest wedding budget when I dreamed up my own wedding and the
> joy in organising this with some creativity and the help of family and
> community was worth it. Warmth and fun weren’t compromised; money was spent
> with care. Thank you to Muriel and Mario for this early inspiration to me,
> on this journey of being conscious with money. And for hopefully inspiring
> many, many others with the beautiful story of your wedding.
> [image: khadi]
> <http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/khadi.jpg>
>
> Happy 30th Wedding Anniversary, M&M. Here’s to the next 30!
>
> http://www.cleonalira.co.uk/weddingonbudget/
>
>
>
> - *"Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability." - Edsger W. Dijkstra*
>
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