Like any doting father, Mukesh Ambani wanted his daughter Isha’s wedding to be the happiest day of her life. As a rule of thumb, getting married is an expensive affair. This didn’t bother Mukesh. As India’s wealthiest man he was determined his daughter would tie the knot in style.
Isha’s wedding was like a fairytale. Hilary Clinton attended and Beyonce sang. The union of Isha and her husband Anand Piramal was a spectacular show of wealth and status. It was rumored to cost a staggering $100m. The huge price-tag left a bad taste in the mouths of some.
Despite much of its population living in poverty, weddings remain a big deal in India. A daughter’s marriage will cost some Indian families an arm and a leg, but they’ll happily pay it. Even if it threatens to push them onto skid row, it’s all about keeping up with the Joneses and saving face. Many viewed Isha and Anand’s luxury wedding as something to aspire to and not a vulgar display of excess.
Elaborate weddings are not unique to India. At a wedding in Kazakhstan, an elaborate one-ton cake wowed admiring guests. It reportedly cost $179,000.
Money can’t buy happiness, and this is especially true of weddings. According to a recent study by two economists, people who spend a lot of cash at their weddings are less likely to stick together, while people with modest weddings are more likely to have long-lasting marriages.
This is good news for the daughter of wealthy cloth trader, Ajay Munot. When his child, Shreya, announced her wedding, he bucked the trend of throwing an extravagant ceremony. Instead, he did something unique. He used the $93,000 he would have spent on the wedding to help those in need.
To celebrate his daughter getting hitched, Munot purchased two acres of land. He then built 90 houses for the homeless. Each house came with its own electrical and clean water supply. The Indian businessman attached three strict rules to his unusual wedding present. The people to be given the houses should be poor, from a slum, and addiction free.
The bride and groom handed out the keys to the new homes after their modest, but beautiful wedding. Ajay’s daughter said her father’s wedding gift was perfect and made her very happy.
Ajay’s grand gesture made headlines in India and seems to have set a shining example. Other fathers are now keen to make charitable donations as wedding presents.
As The Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy me love,” but it can help change people’s lives for the better.