• KiAfriqa

Expensive European-style Weddings have become the norm, even for low-income African families.

The process leading to marriage has become an uphill task to climb for many in Africa, especially, the youth. Marriages have simply become too expensive. It is no more enough to present drinks and gifts (known as dowry), a token of support used to compensate the parents for the loss of services of their daughter. In recent times, this gesture is just the first of many processes the man (or, in some cases, the couple) will go through before the marriage is sanctioned and cemented. The process leading to marriage, itself, is as expensive as the one which comes after—the huge party to celebrate the event.

Our society seems to have become more Western in its values than it was about three decades ago when marriages were less expensive, more traditional, and more meaningful to the couple, the two families, and the entire society. Marriage, hitherto, was a simple event, sanctioned by the two families, which also meant a lot to the couple who found the joy more in finally making public their intentions to spend their lives together more than the jamboree that characterized the event.

Today, we are told that the engagement ceremony, which is the equivalent of the traditional African marriage, is no more “proper” marriage—at least that is the undercurrent message that our foreign religions have given us. Why spend so much money on a European-style wedding? Is the one done the African-style, not a wedding?

The African traditional wedding ceremony is almost losing its effect and importance. But, is an African traditional wedding ceremony, not marriage? Can’t the couple live together after the engagement ceremony? Why has the European-style wedding ceremony become the most important of the events leading to the marriage? Now, if we uphold this European-style wedding as the more important (even if we don’t openly say so), isn’t that an affront to our traditional establishment?

This expensive European-style wedding has almost become a must, even for low-income African families, due to the fear of what “people” will think. Society has its own requirements for what it considers a “successful” wedding; foreign religions want to maintain a “certain tradition” and the couple, boxed into the game of perception, will be forced to satisfy potential critics who come to these ceremonies with pen and paper, in hand, to “judge the contest.” Guests expect to see a particular style and make of the wedding dress, a specific model and make of the wedding car, and a specific place for the wedding reception.

The cost of organizing the engagement and the wedding ceremony—has escalated to the roof through the years. Everything from the wedding dress to the place for the honeymoon seems to be so costly that parents and/or the couple end up taking out large loans to organize the event. The craze to meet societal expectations has driven couples to do some crazy things—people can be crazy, you know. Sometimes, the problem comes from the bride’s family for the groom to meet some expectations, and continue the “respectable” family tradition of the bride, but sometimes, it also comes from the sheer stupidity on the part of the guy to prove his love for the woman. You know we all have our own definition of love. If that were not the case, a man will not go for a loan to organize an expensive wedding just to prove that he loves a woman.

The beauty of marriage seems to have been replaced with a material consideration that has become a source of worry to many people. The challenge that confronts many people, especially the youth is that they might not get married as soon as they want.

Are expensive weddings a good idea? Is an African traditional wedding not enough? Let us know what you think.