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Your wedding, your money – don’t empty my pockets

If you live in Nairobi, chances are that you have been invited to a wedding committee meeting to help a friend with their nuptial plans.

They begin with phone calls from the soon-to-be married couple. This friend of yours — who never calls you — begins by asking how you have been, to which you answer with a careful ‘Fine…can’t complain.”

And then they drop the bombshell ‘By the way, so-and-so and I are getting married; we would like to invite you to our wedding committee.” 

Now, the tricky part is, you cannot say No or respond with ‘I will think about it’ because these are people you know and you want nothing but the best for them.

If you are kind-hearted like me, you will say Yes and that is how you find yourself in the first meeting — which is usually packed with friends, workmates, churchmates, cousins and even ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.

The beauty of the committee is that it is so easy to convince people to contribute to your wedding. Three out of five couples getting married have absolutely no cash to fund their wedding, and this is where committees come in.

They are usually like “We just have Sh100,000 but we are planning for a Sh350,000 wedding…” In simple terms, they are telling you: “Look here, we need you all to contribute Sh250,000 for our wedding, starting … now!”.

Wedding committees are like chamas, you are tricked into contributing money through ‘pledges’ with the understanding that one day it is going to be you and your significant other on that miniature high table.

Because you fear calling for a wedding committee and having nobody show up, you hurriedly pledge Sh2,500 (or more) and rationalise, ‘It’s just Sh2,500. I will pay Sh800 every month for the next three months; I will barely feel the pinch.’ 

Get the groove

Once you get the groove of it, you now expose yourself to endless, annoying, mass ‘polite-reminder’ messages that go something like this; ‘Dear Friends, we would like to politely remind you of Manzi and Chali’s wedding committee meeting to be held on March 22, at 6:30 pm at Xxxxx Building, room 765. Those who have pledges kindly honour them before the big day so that we can pay our service providers. God loves a cheerful giver. Thanx and Blessed day.” 

Of course, there is an equally annoying Facebook page dubbed ‘Manzi and Chali’s Wedding’ with about 578 likes.

If you are like me, you will hurriedly like the page and hurriedly unlike the same page after three weeks when the messages become unbearable.

 

As you near the Big Day, the committee officials and soon-to-be bride and groom mount a lot of pressure on the committee — never mind that the initial number of 100 has now reduced to about 15 members.

In most cases, 12 of the 15 members are also planning their weddings and are simply there so the couple in question can return the favour when their time comes. Did I mention these committees are like chamas? 

The Big Day finally comes, lovely couple gets hitched, drives off to honeymoon and quietly tip toes back to normal life. Now, it is common courtesy to have a ‘break-the-committee’ party to say thank you to the friends who helped you organise your wedding, but sadly, very few couples do this.

They use the ‘we are still settling, we will call you when ready’ line, which works until they pop their first tot and you completely forget that story. 

Soon another couple is asking you to join their wedding committee and the cycle continues. I have no problem with wedding committees. I understand their role and value because planning a wedding can be hard work.

What I have a problem with are those couples that expect other people to fund their weddings. If you want to have a Victorian wedding, pay for it yourself. Don’t take advantage of other people’s kindness.

My new motto now is: Your wedding, your money. Period.