Richa Sachdeva and Akshit Wadhwa got married two months back. The many wedding gifts that they got from friends and relatives included a lot of stuff they weren’t sure what to do with.
For instance, there were 15 photo frames, 25 showpieces, about a dozen home linen sets and five similar electronic appliances. All of these are now lying unused in the couple’s store room. They even got endless boxes of chocolates and sweets — half of which were distributed to their neighbours and the other half went stale.
Wadhwa estimates all these gifts to be worth R1.5lakh, money, which he says, they could have used elsewhere.
This is not just their story. Most Indian couples are faced with a problem of excessive gifts, mostly useless, after their wedding. They are usually predictable items, such as candle-stands and wall clocks, that are easy to buy and affordable in any price bracket. Delhi-based businessman Rohan Sharma, 27, who got married in January, has a whole stock of decorative pieces now. “I got a lot of similar gifts — table top watches, candle stands and decorative statues. I couldn’t tell my relatives, but I did tell my friends not to give me any gifts, if at all, to give me cash. Some of them agreed, and now I can buy what I want.”
In light of this dilemma faced by couples, we take a look at some options that guests can explore to ensure that gifts are meaningful and don’t add to the excess waste, synonymous with Indian weddings.
The zero-waste approach
Easy on the formalities
Forget the couple, the most important gifts to be bought during Indian weddings are for the extended families of the bride and the groom. Kaveri Bhattacharya’s parents spent close to Rs 1 lakh, buying saris for all her fiance’s aunts. For Richa Sachdeva’s wedding, her parents organised sweet boxes and baskets of gifts for relatives — a lot of which went waste. Keeping in mind such expenses, young couples have decided to do away with such gifting, meant for their aunts and uncles and cousins. “All this gifting is just ‘shosha baazi’. We instructed all our relatives not to go overboard. Only our parents exchanged small token presents,” says Rahul Sharma, who tied the knot last summer.
Vouch for them
If you don’t know what to buy for your friends, then don’t opt for a wall clock. Give them a gift voucher instead. The idea of gift vouchers is still new to Delhi, but several shopping destinations in the city offer wedding vouchers that allow the couple to buy anything, from accessories to furniture to clothes. The jewellery boutique chain has vouchers worth up to R1 lakh. “We have wedding gift vouchers for jewellery ranging from R10,000 to R1 lakh and it’s valid up to two months,” says Tarang Arora of Amrapali group. Shopping malls, such as DLF Promenade provide gift vouchers that allow you to buy from any shop in the mall. This can be a better option as you will be gifting the couple a whole range of options to choose from.
There can be no greater joy than knowing that a small effort and little time from your end can change someone’s life. One such platform is GiveIndia that allows you to gift one such experience to your friends on their special day. The initiative was started 10 years ago with just 10 NGOs on board. Today, they have 200 NGOs registered with them. “You can support a cause of your choice from over 200 NGOs. All you need to do is buy a donation in the name of your friend. We’d had about 10-12 couples raise funds as part of their wedding in 2010. We launched this feature in 2007. About 30 odd couples over the years have done so,” says Tarika Vaswani, manager, Internet Givings, GiveIndia. “GiveIndia makes sure that you receive the receipt and tax benefit, followed
by the feedback report on how you helped change a life, which is sent to both, the recipient and the original donor. A truly great way to show you care, with just a few clicks of the mouse from anywhere in the world,” adds Vaswani.
You can register online at www.giveindia.org
There is a common trend abroad where the bride and the groom — before their wedding — chalk out a list of things that they would be requiring. The list varies from person to person. They send it out to their friends and relatives with the invitation card, stating that they would love to receive any of the listed thing as a gift. The interested invitees are then expected to RSVP and mention what they will be gifting the couple so that there are no repeats. “This is a good way to avoid unwanted gifts at the wedding. We have inculcated this option in our wedding package and hope we get good takers,” says Rajeev Chabbra of Wedding Experts and Hospitality.
Usually, Indian families opt for a time frame of around six months to plan weddings, but we just took three months to plan my sister’s wedding. My parents said we had only R3 lakh to plan with. I noted down all relevant categories that I needed to look at — right from caterers to decorators to florists to the mehandiwala. A friend advised me to search online — there are dedicated websites that allows us to lay down our plans in such a hassle-free manner. On bigindianwedding.com I saw listings of ghodi and baggis, which had completely skipped my mind. I saved a lot of money and my precious time and energy in the wedding, which I later utilised to enjoy the occasion. I genuinely suggest everyone to make full use of technology and plan functions easily. The function was a grand success and I explored my creative side as well.
My cousin did not want to spend too much on her wedding lehenga as she knew she would be wearing it just once. We thought of some “chalu panti”. We took a cheap skirt from a mall and simple red fabric from Chandni Chowk. We gave the fabric to a tailor and got a a blouse stitched. Next, we got rented jewellery. We bought some beautiful stones, sequins and patches, and stitched them onto the skirt and the top. The last thing that remained was a drape, that a girl is supposed to wear on her head. We bought a heavy drape to accentuate the simple dress we had got stitched. My cousin added bling to her dress by wearing a tiara on her head that made her look just like a princess. This is how my cousin’s wedding proceeded and believe me, she looked absolutely stunning and vivacious on her big day!
— Roopali Pasricha