I am fortunate enough to have a family as large as mine. I’m surrounded by sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, all with different knowledge and wisdom to pass on. One of the great things about a large family is that there is always a reason to celebrate, and what is more celebratory than a wedding!
Summer is over, which means the perfect wedding season has come to an end. For that reason, I wanted to write about weddings, and a bit about marriage too – since it has become an even more prominent subject of conversation in my life: got a man? you married yet? When are the children coming? No, no, and maybe never, how ‘bout that! Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-marriage but my views certainly have invited a few denigrating stares from people. For example, I do not want a wedding, at all.
Let’s break this down: the bride, you, looking like a Disney princess with your white ball gown and a train that stretches as long as the Nile; pink peonies, lilac lilies and orange orchids carefully placed in every corner of the room; the band starts right on cue, the rhythm of the music is perfectly synchronised to your steps; your makeup is so flawless you could appear on the cover of Vogue magazine the very next day and all eyes are fixed on you. Oh, right, and the groom is waiting for you at the altar, hopefully… that’s important too. All of this spectacle is only at the church, because there needs to be a reception as well. More flowers, food, tables and chairs, a DJ, the cake, a candy bar just for the sake of having a candy bar. If you’re rich, this does not concern you, by all means, add an open bar and a chocolate fountain!
Now, I hear that the average cost of a wedding in Canada is about $30, 000, from the small details like invitations to the big ones like the venue. If you come from an African heritage where your family extends to your father’s third cousin’s daughter’s husband’s son, expect a guest list worthy of putting Kate and William’s royal wedding to shame, which means more costs. Again, if your means allow for a big wedding, go for it. I’m talking to those girls who dream of the fairy tale, ignore the reality of their financial situation and forget that a wedding is only one day in a marriage. Last I heard, marriage is hard.
So let’s get this right: you are willing to invest at least $30,000 for one night and spend the next five years of your life eating bread and tuna every day to pay back that money you probably borrowed from the bank? You are telling me that you could give up the jollof rice and the plantains for five years? Now that the wedding is over, do you and your husband have the time and the means to treat each other? To go to the movies? To try that new restaurant that just opened? To have children and provide for them? Or have you built a routine of going to work just to pay for your extravagant wedding and resent each other for it? Are you still together after five years? The horror stories are true!
We’re talking about $30,000! The things one could do with that money! Let’s see: put a down payment on a house that will increase value in a few years. Travel and expand your horizons. Start that business that you have always wanted to own. Sow seeds in the vision that you and your husband have for your marriage. Provide for the kids. Go back to school and everything else you could think of.
Are those things easy? I strongly doubt it! Marriage is doing life with another being after all, but at least these alternative options add value in the long term, they do not take it away. There is nothing wrong with skipping the luxury wedding at the beginning; wait ten years, twenty years down the line, once you and your husband have gone through the most unimaginable ups and downs, once you are slightly more financially secure, there will be a reason to celebrate on a large scale. Cheers to the late nights working on projects! Cheers to the times you got into fights and cried! Cheers to the times you almost gave up but did not! Cheers to making it to twenty years of marriage!
Weddings are joyful events; they bring people together. I love them. But I also believe wisdom is essential. A marriage does not necessarily begin when the vows and the rings have been exchanged: laying down your vision, talking about finance and money management, the possibility of having children and everything else that matters needs to come up long before that. A white wedding is not a bad thing, but there is nothing wrong in not desiring it either. My sister and her husband have taken this road and there is not one day that they regret their decision.
Until next time, go conquer!