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Last Updated: 2013/05/15
Summary of question
Is this fine to help or give money to needy people instead of giving a walima (feast), if a couple is going to marry?
Is it not better for a would-be couple to help the needy with the money which they intend to spend on giving a feast in a wedding ceremony?
Concise answer
The religion of Islam being perfect addresses all aspects of human life. It has prescriptions and codes of practice for Muslims to help them live a balanced and objective life. Hence, one must not go to extremes acting upon one injunction and putting others into oblivion. In this respect, there is no doubt in the fact that being charitable, doing charitable work and helping others are highly recommended in Islam. God, the Exalted, gives rewards to all those who engage in charitable activities but giving a feast on a wedding day – if it is not wasteful and  lavish – is good and Islam views it as a positive action.
In this regard, the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) says:
«إِنَّ مِنْ سُنَنِ الْمُرْسَلِینَ‏ الْإِطْعَامَ‏ عِنْدَ التَّزْوِیج»[1]
It is among the traditions of prophets to give a walima (feast) on their marriage.
It should be noted, however, that what was considered to be a common practice in the early period of Islam was to give only one kind of food – such as broth – which was not very costly as it was not accompanied with sundries. For this reason, apart from exceptional cases, it is not advised at all to put this good practice into complete oblivion. In fact, one can be frugal by spending economically during a wedding and he can spend what he has economized (the money in excess of the expenses) to give to the needy. Thus he can practice both of the good deeds that have been prescribed and recommended by Islam.

[1] Kulayni, Muhammad bin Ya’qub, Al-Kafi, vol.5, p. 367, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, 1407 A.H.
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