Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Of Weddings And How I Got Married (Or Was Married Off)

Ok, this is how it works here: Boy meets girl and soon proposes to her. He is either rejected or accepted. If accepted, girl insists on a memorable wedding ceremony. My phone rings and I am informed that a committee is being put in place to organize the wedding. As a committee member, you are committed to contribute a certain fixed figure, let's say 10,000 shillings. You can even be compelled to spend a certain amount of money on the attire to wear that day. You are also required to mobilize friends to contribute to this wedding on top of being assigned some work, like organizing transport for all and sundry, making sure food and refreshments are catered for etc. By the time the wedding is done, you have spent unquantifiable amount of time on this wedding, not to mention a fortune. And because you will have fallen short of the money required to pull it off, the bride and groom could have borrowed money to finance the shortfall. When back from their honeymoon, they will be scratching their heads on how to deal with the debts.

This is a typical scenario of weddings in this country. Except the part where I receive a call to be a committee member. This is because my relatives and friends know better than to call me to be part of a wedding committee. They all know that I will either decline, or if forcefully prevailed upon, I will simply go awol/mia. And I normally have my standard line: I have not had a wedding ceremony, not because I don't want to but because I cannot afford, so why pay for someone else' wedding? Of course even if I could afford to I would not want to (but my wife does not know this). It is a discussion that I have agreed to disagree on with many friends but my position is that one should organize a wedding that they can afford. I have never seen the need to burden everybody else with the cost of a lavish wedding if you cannot afford it.

A lavish wedding does not necessarily make a marriage. But all the glitzy images of weddings on TV are making all the women yearn for the same, not necessarily knowing that those are either the filthy rich or it is just a soap opera set. I know most of the women will vehemently disagree with me, but my wife will not. She will look at that budget and tell me, why don't we buy a piece of land and build a house? I did not need to have a lavish wedding to marry my wife. I did not even go down on my knees to propose. None of us wears a wedding ring.

After going out with her for sometimes, I simply told her that if it too late to get back to her place she could spend the night at my place (with some selfish intentions I must admit). But because she did not want the rest of the people at her place to know she had spent the night at my place, she would get up to go home very early in the morning. The only hitch with this arrangement was that I did not have the keys to the compound gate and because we did not want to wake up the rest of the people we shared the compound with, she had to jump over the fence. I think she got tired of jumping over the fence every weekend so she eventually just moved in. And then I was forced to explain to her folks why she was living at my place. And here we are many years later. With two kids (my first born came as a result of the fence jumping episodes).

This weekend I attended the wedding of a dear cousin. All I did was show up at the wedding and enjoy. She did not invite me to be in the committee, which was a good thing as I might not have had the guts to say no given that I hold her in high esteem. I wish her all the best

I would be interested in hearing your take on weddings...

26 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved this very frank posting.

    There has been a lot of talk lately about weddings, marriage, civil partnerships etc. I am firmly behind the view that you and your wife share! My hats off to you both.

    My husband was a Catholic so there was no question in his mind that we should have a formal ceremony - I was against a religious service, so we planned a quiet civil one with a dozen friends to share a wedding breakfast. When my mother heard this she was furious, as if it was a slight to her, we relented and ended up having a wedding to please her - the sort that neither of us had wanted. I am being totally honest when I say that I had never intended to marry, I really don't think a service (of any description) guarentees committement or happiness. If you truely love someone then you shouldn't need all that frippery to prove it.

    I know that I will never get married again - that's not to say I won't ever be in a realtionship again - I just think that I am happy within myself and don't need the pom and ceremony (nor the expense) of a lavish affair. Times and attitudes have changed so much in the 30 years since I first got married and I would never put either of my children under the same pressures my mother put me under!

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  2. Otieno - You have hit the nail on the head,. Talking about a subject most people shy from. If you haven't read ''Kindly finance your stupid wedding' already, please read it on how we are helping able men 'buy' their bride. Someone even suggested that if I help you buy,I sleep with her. Very gross. Also read about I don't like weddings : a sentiment I also share. I have been forcefully joined to a bridal group that I would rather avoid. Through my entire life, this is he first wedding I will be a bridesmaid.

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  3. heya Otieno,
    awesome post! u are absolutely right about ' a lavish wedding does not necessarily make a marriage' . i myself had a simple ceremony & decided that the money that most ppl thought should have been spent on the wedding would best be spent on the house just like ur very sensible self & wife. there is no need to go begging on a loan if one simply cannot afford it from the beginning, how does one propose to pay back the loan after wedding!?

    keep on blogging!

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  6. For us it's the parents who meet the parents if it's a traditional arranged marriage. The girl's family may have to spend half or even full share of the wedding expense. We ill have to invite all and sundry. But there are people who settle for a register marriage where they will just have to sign a few papers and thats it

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  7. So. I'm stuck at the fence jumping. Wah! That would make a very amusing video. I can clearly see it in my head! O and the complete story tickles me no end! Tihihihi.

    If you ask me, huge marriage ceremonies are overrated. I can't even imagine going through the stress of trying to please everyone. I'm too proud to beg so I will not have anyone contributing for something like my wedding! And with the bills I hear people accumulate, I never see a happily ever after. I just see squabbling after everyone has gone home because we need to repay loans and things. And thereafter, there will be a relative or a friend who has an opinion of how it would have been made better.

    I am old fashioned but as far as weddings and huge ceremonies go? I threw that illusion out the window a few decades back. Never worth the pain. O yeah. I don't do committees either. You asked for my opinion, right? :D

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  8. Hey y'all - some of the readers have been experiencing problems with the Disquss comments app I had put so I decided to do away with it. For that reason some of my responses appear as if they hanging in the air, addressed to nobody. Since I am no techie and can't figure out how to edit them once posted, will delete some and repost in a manner that it is clear to who they were directed at.

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  9. @Phases Good luck walking down the aisle with all those eyes on you!! Do you have a link to the posts you have mentioned?

    @Jane-Healy I think a lot of time parents want their kids to do stuff for their own benefit without necessarily thinking about what the kids themselves want. I personally have no problems with weddings of any kind, the only issue for me is that you should be able to afford it and not burden others, and also as you have stated, it should be something you desire, not forced on by others' expectations

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  10. I think I will send over my wife to be for counseling. Weddings are just too overrated for me. Its a s simple as going to the Priest five witness and Pap you are joined in holy matrimony....

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  11. I dont think it is an absolute neccessity to have a wedding ceremony so as to be "married". The average cost of a wedding in Kenya is approximately Kshs 800,000. What happens next?

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  12. This is hilarious & beautiful.I've never understood the fuss made over white weddings. I still don't; they look painfully showy & that is just not my style. If I'm to ever get married, it will be AG simple,followed by dinner & drinks with close family & friends. I kid you not. One of my pals was asked to be a groomsman & get this; he was asked to shell out 22k for the suit he was going to wear! I find the whole concept of strong arming or guilting your friends into funding your wedding selfish and not a very good way of starting a new chapter,karma wise :-)

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  13. @Carolkmail - yes, I asked for your opinion! Thanks for unashamedly providing it :)

    @Sunnylovesrain - thanks for your comments. I guess there is nothing difficult like repaying a loan when you can not see the specific asset you got with it before your eyes!

    @Jon - many Kenyan men would like to be in the position where the girls' family foots the bills! When I lived in India I noticed the weddings were such a big deal!

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  14. @Solowavideo - maybe that is what she has dreamt about all her life!

    @Steven - I think if people are a bit more creative they can actually spend less! The problem is that we all want to do it as we saw it done on the wedding show!

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  15. Nyambura, I was once asked to shell out 30K for a suit. My response was that I cannot even shell out 3k for my own suit (because I dont wear suits), why spend all that for a single event? I was promptly dropped from the line up! I also think we are simply not creative enough hence the expensive but same predictable/boring weddings.

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  16. I was expecting to get some flak from the ladies but it has not materialised. Strange...

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  17. Interesting topic!:)

    I didn't have a lavish wedding and didn't want one. I prefer things very casual and low key and most important, relaxed.:) I also see no sense in just putting on a big show. Why bother?:)

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  18. This is really interesting, the whole committee thing. I had never heard of this before, really doesn't happen here in India. But I am sure something like this would help in a more organized ceremony...

    And I completely agree that one should do a wedding that we can afford, I shall certainly do it that way :)

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  19. Joshi, the committee thing is very much common here in Kenya with Christian weddings, mostly for the purposes of financing the wedding ceremony. I know in India the dynamics are different because most of the time the bride's family is expected to foot the bill. Thanks for stopping by. I am enjoying your two blogs as well!

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  20. Colleen, we love putting on big shows so that we can fit in, and because we have seen it on TV and on glamour magazines!

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  21. Since I am not married I will hold my horses here. Humourous post here Hongo I must say, I wonder what Mrs. Otienos reaction will be on stumbling on this post, lol. You seriously let her jump the fence, no spare gate key?

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  22. Mackel9 - the things people will do for love!

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  23. i hope that i never get forced to do one of those grand weddings, moving in sounds lovely to me.

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  24. Ha Ha Ha. I just enjoyed reading this utterly frank and delightful piece. The committee is something I am coming across for the first time. Our weddings are of many many kinds. John has already mentioned some.

    The wedding ceremony is supposedly to inform people about the wedding and the sharing of happiness but as you rightly mentioned these days it is just for showcasing wealth and arrogance. I detest those exhibitions where the bride and groom are show pieces.

    My wedding, though is a love marriage, is arranged by both families and the expenses are also shared. Since it is the first wedding of my house, my people want many to attend the ceremony. But no expenses are beyond our means. We are quite particular that we will not spend much.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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  25. Susan,glad to know you are getting married! I wish you joy and may the wedding be so successful!

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