Where is the sanity in extravagant weddings?
Posted Tuesday, January 29 2013 at 02:00
A wedding is a very important occasion in virtually all societies. For those who are committed to a monogamous and lifelong marriage, a wedding comes only once in a lifetime, which makes it even more significant. The trend of holding extravagant and increasingly expensive weddings is something that ought to give us reason to pause.
The first time I participated in a wedding committee was in 1989. In those days Uganda neither had mobile phones nor motorcycle taxis.
My brief on the wedding committee was in charge of transport and when one of the vehicles promised for the bridal entourage did not turn up at the appointed place and time I had to literally run from Namirembe to Jinja road and then back, a distance of 10 kilometres.
It took me an hour to cover the 10 kilometres trip and before I could get back a gentleman with a car came to check how the decorations were progressing and the organisers promptly washed and decorated his car and sent the groom in it to Church.
When it came to the reception, the venue was a home with a large enough compound to sit the 100 plus guests expected for the wedding. The guests were served two bottles of soda, one samosa and one queen cake. Everybody left when they were satisfied and happy.
You have to give it up to those old time weddings when it came to being practical. The story is certainly much different when it comes to present day weddings where a modest wedding will cost a shocking Shs30 million or $12,000.
Budgets usually show total amounts and indicate both the income and expenditure but things are very different with wedding budgets. The genius who invented wedding budgets ensures that they are produced without grand totals and furthermore only the expense side is shown.
I have always asked the question: “How comes people are willing to contribute Shs30 million for a wedding but will not give a single coin if you approached them with an investment idea that requires Shs3 million?”
Part of the explanation is found in the silent blackmail that those who are not yet wedded have to endure.
The unwritten rule is that for as long as you are not yet wedded you have to contribute to the wedding budget of those going before you. This contribution provides some form of insurance so that other people also contribute when your own wedding preparation is underway.
The unfortunate bit is that the system works somewhat like a gift circle so those who have already completed their weddings are not as much under pressure to contribute as those who are still unwedded.
If the wedding committee fails to raise the money, it is not uncommon for intending couples to resort to borrowing in order to hold a glamorous wedding complete with a convoy of Mercedes Benz cars; and then two weeks later you meet the groom riding on a bicycle taxi.
I once inquired from a group of women about the possibility of couples organising weddings with modest budgets and they made it known to me that the pressure to hold extravagant weddings often times comes from without the couple.
Parents were identified as the biggest cheerleaders for huge weddings because they want their children’s wedding to match or surpass the wedding of another relative or friend.
It seems that some people have changed the primary reason for having a wedding from getting married to either fitting in with perceived expectations of society or showing off.
One church in Kampala has been offering free weddings for its members but to the surprise of the pastors, people don’t want to participate in the free weddings for the simple reason that they appear cheap so the church is now thinking of stopping the offer.
A wedding is an event that happens in a few hours, after that there is a whole life of marriage to take care off and possibly children which require lots of money. Spending Shs30 million or more of either begged or borrowed money in 5 hours appears unwise to me..
James Abola is a business and money coach and Team Leader for Akamai Global. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org