By Amandla Karungi
As a young woman getting married in 2017, I have noticed differing reactions of people from different age groups when I tell them of “my impending nuptials” (It sounds more regal to call it that). When it comes to the generation of my parents who are in their mid to late fifties, all of them are very excited. I suppose this is in support of the traditional institution of marriage, the promise of grandchildren and the pride of telling their friends that their children are married. However, for some of my friends who are in their mid to after mid- twenties (Is 26 and 27 late twenties?) after the initial spark of excitement dies down, they sometimes say out loud, “But you are too young!” This sentence means how will you ever afford it?
The amount of money every couple needs to pull off an African wedding is always over and above the amount of money they actually have. I call it an “African wedding” because there is a difference between white “white weddings” and African “white weddings”.
Unlike white “white weddings” for whom the true description of nuclear families applies, our African “white wedding” traditions are based on a sense of community. This means that for a grand event such as a wedding, you must invite every relative, friend, neighbor and acquaintance. This worked well in the past when hosting a wedding party did not require stage lighting, a professional Master of Ceremonies and decoration worth a year’s salary and before service providers started to charge highly exorbitant prices and giving mediocre service in return. With crossed arms and an air of nonchalance, you can tell that they think that they are as important as the Officiant of your marriage ceremony.
“We cannot go for less than that,” they respond smugly.
“If the wedding was in October, could you go lower?”
“No, because its almost December.”
Some people have ignored this spending trend and either made their reception locations a secret, even to their parents or just boldly explained from the start that it was too expensive to hold a party of 700 people, 650 of whom do not know your name. Because of the financial instability many of us face today and changing attitudes in public pooling of resources for a one day event, getting married is increasingly an expensive affair.