Mariage counseling might be seen as an option when a couple gets into difficulties, but legislation being introduced to the Knesset seeks to turn the concept on its head and propose it as prophylactic measure against the increase in the divorce rate.

The bill, proposed by Likud MK Yehudah Glick and the brainchild of the Tzohar rabbinical association, would offer not inconsiderable financial inducements to couples who register to marry if they participate in a marriage preparation course before they tie the knot.

VICTORIA AND Benjamin on their wedding day. (

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Couples who register for such courses would be entitled to a reduction of half a point in their income tax obligations for both spouses for the year in which they participated in the course. In addition, they would be entitled to a full rebate of the NIS 700 marriage registration fee, which is paid to the local religious council, and receive a subsidy, the extent of which is yet to be determined, toward the cost of the counseling course.

Institutions authorized to provide such courses would be determined by the Labor and Social Services Ministry, which would be given responsibility for the law.

The legislation is ultimately designed, its authors state, to preserve the social benefits of maintaining family unity and to reduce the costs to the state of the increasing divorce rate, such as welfare benefits to single-parent families and the social and financial costs of increased family violence.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of Tzohar’s ethics department, said he understands concerns over the state involving itself in the private lives of its citizens, but argued that the program would be voluntary and could have a large, beneficial impact on society.

“The issue of divorce is a great tragedy, and has a large impact on the lives of the divorcing couple and their children, and on the state’s coffers,” Cherlow said.

The rabbi noted that Tzohar has been exposed to the issue of divorce through its extensive marriage program, which assists young couples through the marriage process, and that the group was becoming increasingly concerned with the problems arising in marriages after the wedding day.

He was also critical of the heavy attention paid to preparations for the wedding ceremony and party by young couples, who should instead invest their time and money in efforts to ensure their marriage can last.

“We are seeing this in a very noticeable manner, that people don’t have the tools to deal with the challenges of relationships and they lack the basic tools to deal with these issues,” Cherlow said. “The best approach is not to wait for a crisis in a marriage, but to give couples the tools to prepare for challenges and problems in advance, so the state really should incentivize such preparations ahead of time.”

He argued that an important factor in the increasing divorce rate was a lack of experience in dealing with relationship and marital challenges, and in particular a failure to communicate.

Cherlow laid particular blame at the door of social media, which he said reduces the ability of people to listen to and take into account the opinions of others and to express themselves in a calm and reasonable manner.

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“People don’t know to listen and be attentive to what others are saying, and communication is becoming more violent and is frequently expressed with exclamation marks and decreasingly with question marks,” he observed.

The bill had been expected to gain government backing in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, but the vote on the bill, along with several others, was delayed due to a dispute within the coalition over an unrelated piece of legislation.



Indian weddings

The worst excesses of the Indian wedding industry may soon be curbed if a new bill is approved.

The proposed bill will not only limit the number of guests and dishes served to avoid waste, but also put a "tax" on the most extravagant newlyweds.

Those who spend over 500,000 rupees ($7,500; £6,000) will have to give 10% of the overall cost to poorer brides to help them pay for their weddings.

Mr Reddy (left) with his daughter and other family members

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It comes amid rising anger over the huge sums being shelled out by some.

In November, the five-day wedding of businessman and ex-state minister G Janardhana Reddy's daughter, Brahmani, with an estimated cost of about 5bn rupees ($74m; £59m), prompted outrage as millions of Indians struggled with a cash flow crisis.

Among the extravagances were gold-plated invitation cards fitted with LCD screens, costing 10m rupees.

MP Ranjeet Ranjan, who is proposing the Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill, 2016, told Indian news agency PTI weddings had become "more about showing off your wealth" and not about the institution.

"As a result, poor families are under tremendous social pressure to spend more," she said. "This is needed to be checked as it is not good for society at large."

The proposal could be taken up as a private members bill in the next session of the country's Lok Sabha, or lower house.

Costly nuptials

This wedding may have been pricey, but it is far from being alone. Here are just a few of the world's most expensive:

Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of India's second richest man Lakshmi Mittal, married Amit Bhatia in a ceremony rumoured to have cost $74m in 2004. According to Forbes, the family flew 1,000 guests to France for the celebration which began with a party in Versailles

The wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1981 is thought to have cost about £30m - in today's money closer to £116m. In comparison, their son William's wedding to Kate Middleton cost just £20m, according to the Daily Mail.

In March, Russian billionaire's son Said Gutseriev wed Khadija Uzhakhovs in Moscow. She is thought to have spent as much as $1.2m on her wedding dress, and, according to MailOnline, guests were kept entertained with performances provided by not one superstar, but three: Jennifer Lopez, Sting and Enrique Iglesias. The cost? Possibly a billion dollars...

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Wedding Showcase

Monte Durham, co-host and fashion director of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,” will be the featured guest at the first annual Alexandria Wedding Showcase Feb. 19 at The Westin Alexandria.

#A career bridal image consultant, Durham is well known in Alexandria, where he resides and celebrated his own wedding in 2013. He will host a VIP reception and participate in the showcase.

#“We are really excited about the inaugural Wedding Showcase,” said Lorraine Lloyd of Visit Alexandria. “The quality of our vendors along with our program sets this apart from typical wedding showcases.”

Alexandria Wedding Showcase attendees will be eligible to win prizes, including the opportunity to display the Virginia Is For Lovers “LOVE” letters at their own wedding.

#More than 50 local vendors will participate in the showcase, which will also serve as a benefit for Brides Across America, a nonprofit that provides weddings and wedding gowns to military and first responder couples nationwide.

#“With Monte’s help, 10 brides chosen by Brides Across America will select their gowns at the showcase,” said Visit Alexandria’s Megan Hosford, a member of the Wedding Showcase committee. “The gowns have been donated by Brides Across America and Global Bridal Gallery, an Alexandria wedding dress boutique. And $2 from each ticket sold to the Wedding Showcase will be donated to Brides Across America.”

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#Hosford, who has a background in wedding planning, said the idea for a showcase began a year ago.

#“Alexandria is a premier destination for weddings,” Hosford said. “We wanted to engage the many wedding vendors with the goal of creating a great wedding community.”

#Showcase committee members include Blackwall Hitch, Eat Good Food Group, Global Bridal Gallery, Modern Bridal Studio, Potomac River Boat Company, The Westin Alexandria and Visit Alexandria.

#“This really is a community effort,” Lloyd added. “Sponsors of the showcase include Engaged! Magazine, The Westin Alexandria, Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, and Visit Alexandria. And we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Alexandria Marketing Fund.”

#Featured vendors will include bakeries, boutiques and caterers; dress and tuxedo boutiques; entertainment and music providers; florists; photographers; salons and spas; transportation and other service providers; and hotels and other venues.

#Local celebrity chef Cathal Armstrong will discuss selecting the perfect wedding menu and mixologists from Blackwall Hitch and PX will present a demonstration on seasonal cocktails.

#Showcase attendees who purchase tickets before Feb. 12 will be entered in a drawing to attend a VIP champagne reception with Durham. All attendees will be entered to win multiple other wedding-related prizes, including the opportunity to display the Virginia Is For Lovers “LOVE” letters at their own wedding.

#The Alexandria Wedding Showcase will be held Feb. 19 at the Westin Alexandria Hotel, 400 Courthouse Square, from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Advance tickets can be purchased online for $15 each or $20 per couple or $25 per person the day of the event.

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wedding dress

A stroll down Grand Junction, Colorado's Main Street turned into an emotional reunion for Jane Fine Foster when she saw a photo she'd been missing for more than a decade.

"To say I was shocked, stunned, near paralyzed is an understatement. I actually screamed out loud," she said.

Nestled in the window of A Robin's Nest Antique shop was a photo of Jane's mother in her lace wedding dresses.

"I just kept blinking and looking again, thinking 'Can that be? Of course it can be, it is my mom,'" Jane recalled.

The photo had been missing ever since it was auctioned off, when the family forgot to make a payment on a storage locker 12 years ago.

"I walked into the Robin's Nest and grabbed her picture and held it tight to me," said Jane.

What Jane didn't know is that this store had one more surprise.

"We had the lady's wedding dress. The same bridesmaid dresses online that was in the picture," said co-owner Shane Allerheiligen.

Allerheiligen brought the dress up from the shop's basement. It was wrapped in the original box and newspaper dated June 22,1948, just two day after Jane's mother was married.

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