Unbudgeted Expenditure:Do not allow anybody to force you into expenditure you did not budget for. This is one of the reasons why would-be couples go borrowing. I always advise that if a family member or friend is not comfortable with your arrangements and wants adjustments which will increase your expenditure, that person must bring the extra money needed to alter the arrangements. If not, the original plan stays.
Showing off:Do not plan your wedding to show off. You must understand marriage for what it is: an admission into a sacred institution established by God. It has its twists and turns, ups and downs, pleasures and pains,freedom and concomitant responsibilities, and enough issues and challenges to keep you busy for the rest of your life. Showing off is one of the reasons people borrow or engage in unnecessary expenditure. Flee from it.
If you followed this column two weeks ago and read between the lines; you would have realised by now that how much you spend on your wedding is entirely up to you. It can be as little as N20, 000 and as much as N500m depending on your financial prowess. Let us look at practical examples of cost savings in a budget wedding:
Wedding apparels: It is not compulsory the groom must buy a new pair of shoes or suit. He can fall back on his wardrobe. The bride on the other hand can rent a gown. The suit and shoes I used for my civil marriage were not new, only my wifefs outfit was, but I was just happy getting married and nothing else mattered.
Venue:If the groom lives in a compound where there is enough space or can get one where there is space, he saves money on renting a hall by doing his reception there.
Food: Instead of hiring a caterer, the couple can buy all the food items and get family members or hire people to do the cooking. From among church members, they can get ushers and servers to take care of guests.
Drinks: Serve only soft drinks, mixture of bottled water and sachet water, and you save a chunk of money.
Music: A deejay or church band will bring down the cost on music, or the couple can do zero expenditure by using the music set at home.
Transportation: Instead of hiring luxury vehicles to convey your bride and yourself, borrow from friends, colleagues and family members and make some savings.
Number of Guests: Reduce your guest list and you save some money. The downside is that you might get fewer gifts and/or antagonise those you did not invite. But so what? It is your day and you determine how it goes.
Traditional Marriage: After teaching a marriage class recently, a participant of Igbo origin observed that even if he saves money on church wedding what about the traditional marriage with attendant high bride price and other practices that lead to high expenditure? Well, I made my enquiries and found out that it is not in all parts of Igbo land pride price is high. Moreover the issue has become tainted with status symbolism.
Sometimes the bridefs family just wants to show the world that the new in-law is rich, or it is the in-law who is showing off. If there is an understanding between all parties, these issues can easily be sorted out. Nothing is cast in stone. Sometimes the bridefs immediate family only needs to shield their new in-law from greedy extended family members.
Daughters are not for sale. My wifefs bride price was N60, and I was only allowed to pay N55. I will never be able to pay the N5 balance because I need to bring everybody who attended the marriage back, wearing the same clothes, to pay the balance. Looking through the photographs recently, at least 12 people who attended the marriage including six family members are dead. The message is simple: We are only giving you our daughter in marriage; we are not selling her.
There are other ways to cut cost during wedding. In the Catholic Church, for instance, some couples come for morning mass on weekdays, do their wedding and leave for work thereafter; no reception. All they have spent money on are the wedding rings. If these couples belonged to a church where rings are not exchanged, they would spend less on their wedding. Sometimes some churches organize mass wedding for members with little means to reduce cost per couple. These marriages are no less valid than those where millions were spent. Today, a lot of the couples are still living together happily.
The point is if you have the money to spend and a high society wedding is your desire, why not, it is your money. Just be sensible and sensitive in your spending and remember that there is life thereafter. Also remember that you are in a country where majority of the citizens exist on two or less dollars a day.
People of little means should, however, not despair or wait indefinitely because of money. When the chips are down, how much you spent on your marriage ceremony will have no bearing on your married life; they are inversely related. I know more people whose financial fortunes improved after their wedding than those whose fortunes went down after wedding. Sometimes spouses and children do bring showers of blessings.