In Mexico, weddings are big social events where large amounts of money are spent before the big day on gowns, tuxedos, catering and music bands and churches are even reserved years in advance.

Weddings of over 500, or even 1 000 guests, are frequently splashed across newspapers' social pages. According to Mexican tradition, the bride's family absorbs most of the expenses.

Jose Antonio Zepeda, a city deputy for President Felipe Calderon's conservative National Action Party, wants to introduce the idea of compensation for backing out of a wedding as part of changes to the capital's civil code.

"He or she who refuses to live up to a marriage commitment will pay for the expenses that the other party made in connection with the planned matrimony," Zepeda's proposal says.

Zepeda also wants lawmakers to give legal status to prenuptial agreements for those on their way to the altar in hopes it will make divorce settlements easier if the couple splits later on.

"We are looking to avoid emotional distress, cut divorce expenses and shorten the time that courts spend solving them," Zepeda said. The prenuptial agreement will be optional.

Divorce rates are on the rise in Mexico, which has a predominantly Catholic population of over 107 million. Currently, three out of 10 couples in Mexico City divorce, compared with just one in 10 in the 1970s, the congressman said.

Zepeda's proposal is expected to be voted by Mexico City's congress in March or April. If passed, it will only apply to heterosexual couples in the capital, which legalised gay unions in 2006.