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. 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