An Algerian charity has funded a mass wedding for 30 couples who were too poor to afford a proper marriage ceremony. Thirty couples in the oasis town of Ain Salah, central Algeria, recently took part in a mass wedding ceremony organized by SOS 3e-Age El-Ihsane, a local charity. Without the group’s help, few would have been able to afford an individual ceremony, which can cost at least 1.2 million dinars ($10,000 or 8,000 euros), the equivalent of nearly two years’ worth of earnings at Algeria’s minimum wage.
Since traditional wedding ceremonies in Algeria are a relatively expensive affair, marriage for couples with poor family backgrounds is often an unattainable desire. The high cost of traditional weddings have seemingly taken a toll on the numbers of couples getting married in Algeria in recent times: official figures show a drop in the number of couples getting married, with the numbers falling from 386,000 in 2014 to 370,000 in 2015.
Located along an old caravan route in the heart of the Sahara, Ain-Salah is an oil-rich town dotted with several oil and gas fields. Unfortunately, much of the accompanying petrol dollars have not trickled down to some of the town’s poorest inhabitants. In fact, at the time of the wedding, the majority of newly married couples were either unemployed or working in low paying jobs as drivers, farm hands, or security guards.