Wedding season hits the wallet hard
FOR Palestinians, summer is wedding season – time for brides and grooms to celebrate. But for guests, who are expected to help cover the costs, it can mean financial misery.
The tradition of naqout encourages those invited to donate cash to help pay for the often lavish feasts.
They pick up an envelope, fill it with cash, usually sign it and place it in a box strategically placed at the entrance.
Technically, the donations are voluntary, but hosts take a dim view of those failing to meet expectations.
Some Palestinians see the tradition as a way to share the costs of important community events. But others say the social pressure to contribute pushes them into dire financial straits.
Murad Shriteh, 46, from near the West Bank city of Ramallah, said he feels swamped after being invited to more than one wedding a week.
He spent US$400, nearly half his monthly salary, in just two weeks of weddings, he said at a wedding party in the West Bank town of Birzeit.
“I have already received several invitations for the rest of August, but I think I will refuse a few,” Mr Murad said.
The West Bank sees more than 25,000 weddings a year.
Social pressures and tradition mean that most are extravagant celebrations, with much of the community invited.
They tend to involve mountains of food, live music and a photographer. The most lavish celebrations even offer each guest a traditional Palestinian scarf or a rosary.
A wedding can cost up to $30,000, while even a poor family may shell out $10,000. –