So there I was receiving another ‘you aren’t serious about getting married’ talk from my parents. Yes, guys get it too. I just thought 25 would be too young for the conversation, but I guess I got my calendar wrong. In an attempt to defend myself I tried working all possible angles but nothing seemed to be working. I am done with my first degree. In fact I am doing a second master’s and I’m getting some income. Apparently, the only next logical step if one isn’t opting for monastic life is marriage. Just when I was about to throw in the towel I sighted my parent’s wedding photo and I almost cracked up laughing. No disrespect to my dad but his suit looked like it was made by a carpenter and when I asked my mum for her wedding dress she told me it was borrowed, not bought. Wow, please is there a girl out there that will save me the cost of buying a wedding dress? I replayed the memory of their wedding video in my head and as I remembered it, it was a modest celebration of love…which is what I assume every wedding should really be about.
Today, you turn up to weddings and you might mistake it for a concert or theatre show. The competition to out-do the last wedding has become something of a blood sport in our society. Even the lower/middle class families are breaking the bank of this event that has no real bearing to the strength of the relationship and lasts just about eight hours. From the multiple Ashokes (correct me if I spelt it wrong), to the extravagant drinks like we need champagne to wash our hands. Inviting celebrity MCs and music artistes is quickly turning to tradition. I could go on.
The result of this spirit of competition is rich parents more or less hijacking the couple’s wedding and turning it into their own affair – with the celebrants as guests at their own wedding. When both families are rich, as is often the case (rich marry rich), it is easy to slip into pointless competition over which family will show they are the most influential. When it is one rich family marrying into a not-so-rich family, the risk of the rich family feeling somehow entitled to some respect, for their contributions; or the poor family feeling some form of resentment because they cannot meet up with the rich is always latent.
And when it is just two struggling families, couples trying to put up a front would spend their last penny on a wedding only to wake up the next day and argue about who drank the last glass of Five Alive, because they now only have money for Pure Water. The sad part is that, this culture has become so ingrained in our society that even the guests you invite for your wedding arrive with a certain level of expectations…instead of coming with the intention to witness a testament to your relationship and celebrate with you in whatever way they can.
The spillover of this culture is a ridiculous rise in event centres charging the kind of money. It makes you wonder if you are renting for a day or a year. It is even becoming more economically viable to have a small wedding abroad. As with all habits, easy to form, difficult to break, it will not be easy, but this culture of competition with weddings has to go. Cutting one’s coat according to their size is never a bad idea.
What are your thoughts on the current Nigerian wedding culture? Feel free to vandalize the comment section. Thank you.