This article was originally published by Qazini, an online media platform seeking to drive systemic change in our societies through empowering storytelling.
By Mourine Achieng’, Qazini
I love weddings. From the beautiful gowns to the stunning tuxedos to the out-of-this-world decor, I'm always mesmerised with the details that go into making a wedding successful. Apart from the wonderful decor, what really amazes me about weddings is the fact that two "strangers" literally throw a party for us to celebrate them committing to live in each other's space for the rest of their lives. Isn't it powerful? I'm always tempted to ask at what point did they decide that it's now time to own each other? But then again, I never get to ask because it's a wedding.
My fascination with weddings doesn't stop there. There's also the vows part, where couples commit to a "for better for worse till death do us part", yet time has proven that while most people stay for the better, the worse is always a contentious issue.
But should we really blame those who've broken their marital vows when "better" and "worse" are not defined? When it comes to "better", almost everyone will stay. The real question is, what is the scope of "worse"? While "worse" could mean cheating for one person, for another, it might be a lack of finances, terminal illness, infertility, or even lack of emotional support. When "worse" goes above one's scope, they won't stick around till death do them part.
Now, all these things intrigue me about weddings, but they are not the premise of our discussion today. Let's switch gears to another aspect about weddings that really throws me off balance. That is the extent that couples go to afford a wedding: committee meeting after committee meeting, zoom tea parties, introduction games, and personalised messages, just to mention a few.
All the hullabaloo is to have a flashy wedding to remember at others' expense. Wanting to get to the bottom of this obsession, I asked a young man planning to marry about his budget. His budget was a whopping Ksh900,000. Curiously, I asked how much they had ready for the wedding. I was shocked to learn that he and his fiance combined had Ksh50,000 and were expecting others to top up Ksh850,000. In his defense, "shoot for the moon even if you miss you'll land among the stars."
The response, ladies and gentlemen, left me dumbfounded. My question is simple: how can one aim for the moon with others' cash? Really! Someone make me understand.
Read Also: 5 Good Financial Reasons to Delay Marriage
There are two groups here. Those who depend on their family members and friends to chip in, and then there's the group that takes loans. The latter is the epitome of madness. These are the same people that will cry foul that their partner threatened to leave if they didn't pull an all-time big glamorous wedding. Such drama leaves me wondering if such people are even ready for marriage.
If you don't have the courage to stop your partner from bullying you into submission, what business do you have in a lifetime commitment? Clearly, you are not grounded in your own identity, but you gave in because of societal pressure and your own inadequacies. Just like your partner, you are two humans not prepared for a lifetime of commitment. Why try in the first place?
In reality, you only need a priest or a pastor and two witnesses to do a wedding. And so, I always fail to understand where people get 300 guests to invite for their weddings. If you check your contact list, the people who really matter, who know you personally, are negligible. I doubt they'll even reach fifty. So, why invite the whole village when only five people have been in your life consistently?
In my opinion, the real place where couples should spend money is premarital counselling. And I'm not talking about counselling by pastors. I'm talking of counselling from a professional marriage counsellor. This is because you are dragging a fully grown adult with all their strength and flaws into your life. The least you can do is get a professional to cut through the noise and point you in the right direction. And even if you won't agree with everything your counsellor says, at least you'll have a bearing to follow.
In my opinion, a wedding is not about the white gown or the well-fitted suits. It's not even about inviting family and friends to celebrate with you. It's a vow, a covenant between you and God, that you are committing to stay with your partner for the rest of your life.
To wrap this up, it's not a crime to have an elegant wedding. It's okay to invite the entire clan if that's what your heart desires, but ensure you have the financial capacity before you do so. However, if you'll be texting people right, left and, centre when the wedding date is approaching, kindly go for something intimate that you can afford. The goal of a wedding is not the crowd you can pull or how flashy your wedding is compared to your brother's, colleague, or best friend. The goal is to make a promise and abide by it.