Weddings: Why do some people get cold feet?

The giant cake is ready for collection. The DJ has received half payment. Expensive honeymoon reservations have been made. Perhaps even the grannies from the village have been carted to town, closer to the impending wedding venue. You need their blessings and goodwill, and what better way than to get granny around early enough so she may recuperate in good time from the tedious bus ride?

The giant cake is ready for collection. The DJ has received half payment. Expensive honeymoon reservations have been made. Perhaps even the grannies from the village have been carted to town, closer to the impending wedding venue. You need their blessings and goodwill, and what better way than to get granny around early enough so she may recuperate in good time from the tedious bus ride?

Then boom! One of the parties develops cold feet. They chicken out. They want out. The wedding has to end before it even started.

Take Gloria Kagisha for example, who now has a dislike for the date August 8. And rightfully so. It was meant to be a blissful day, a day she had dreamt of all her life, the days she was finally becoming a woman and starting a new chapter with the love of her life.

However, shame engulfed her after hours of waiting for the groom, only to be told he had made a run for it. He showed up days later with excuses of fearing the huge commitment he was about to take.

“It’s been two years now, but the memory is still as fresh and as painful as it was that day,” she says.

The question is; who in their right state of mind would want to do that? What kind of a quitter gets so close to tying the knot, only to call it off at the last minute?

Well, turns out that there are many people who would do it and for different reasons.


Why the sudden doubt?

Jamil Sentamu, a business proprietor, says that people can react this way because of different reasons, but one thing for sure is that commitment is a hard thing and that the closer you get to the wedding, the more you question your choices and timing, thinking that maybe you rushed into it.

“Questions like what if she is not the right person for me? Start to surface and this in most cases leads to fear. I don’t know if I can call that the right decision or not but I don’t think one would pull out for no reason when they had said yes in the first place,” he says.

Angela Haizel Rukundo, a mother of one, shares a similar view, saying that situations can be different; may be one partner is in love with someone else, may be one’s family doesn’t agree with the wedding or the other one doesn’t want to commit to another for the rest of their life.

“Marriage is a big commitment and you often hear that people panic and get cold feet but I say don’t let it get to that point. Communication is key, if you have any doubts, communicate before you get to the big day,” she advises.

Ivan Birasa, an IT Specialist, believes that for one to abruptly cancel such an important day in their lives, it is influenced by a serious factor because it cannot just come out of the blue.

Some argue that may be the love was not strong enough to go through with the commitment, however, he thinks that at times, hidden secrets come out just when the D-day is right around the corner.

“A friend’s wedding had to be cancelled on D-day because the woman discovered that the guy was HIV positive. We sat and waited for the bride only to be told the wedding was cancelled,” he recalls.

Birasa is of the view that couples should make such decisions after studying their partners well and most importantly, when they are ready for that commitment.

It’s a known fact that today’s average wedding only comes after weeks, or months of wedding meetings. Now, wedding meetings, if we are to take them for what they really are, have become ‘wedding contribution meetings’.

When someone calls you to their wedding meeting, chances are that they want you to dig deep into your pockets for your generous wedding contribution. While there, you will be asked to contribute ideas that will lead to a memorable wedding, but truth is, the most valued part of your presence is the wallet.

But what happens when the said meetings fail to mobilise just enough funds for the stipulated wedding budget? Those that can may be tempted to take a wedding loan, while the modest will think of cutting the budget down. The cowards will think with their legs and quit.

For men, few things offer a better excuse to call off a wedding than Bridezilla - a woman whose behaviour in planning the details of her wedding is regarded as obsessive or intolerably demanding.

For instance, the impending bride might consider owning a personal home as a bare minimum for starting a family, even when this may be out of reach to her soon-to-be husband. She may require that you open bank accounts in the names of your forthcoming children to give them a good start in life.

Marriage is such a complex affair –so complex that, even the most intimate couple may differ in their real intentions for tying the proverbial knot. So on one hand you have a person that views marriage simply as a statement of intention to spend the rest of their life with a particular person. On the other hand is their partner, who thinks of marriage chiefly as a child-bearing and nurturing institution.

The definition of what’s demanding and what is obsessive may be subjective, yet it’s for this very reason that some men will want out of an impending “till death do us part”.

The habitual cheat may want to do it one more time before the wedding, just for the thrill of it, and nothing is a greater deal-breaker than one with wandering eyes/body parts.

Then there is good old pressure from family or friends, for let’s face it, it generally takes a community to make a successful wedding. If you are a man, your family may unearth a bit of history or character trait to your bride that they find unacceptable –maybe she has a secret child from a previous relationship. Or that there is a track record of mysterious deaths from their blood line. Other families are unwilling to compromise on matters of religion.

A wedding is a generally stressful undertaking and it’s in such times that the worst in human nature usually manifests. How one deals with the situation will either push their partner to the limit, or demonstrate their patience, tolerance and strength of character.

When stress kicks in, some of our worst negative traits rear their ugly heads –vanity, selfishness, pettiness … name it.

Counsellors share their opinion

Methode Kamanzi, the in-charge of Marriage and Family Ministry at Christian Life Assembly, says that many young couples who are getting married tend to have many questions on whether they will manage what they are getting themselves into.

They tend to have fears because of the stories they have heard from friends about marriage or even what they have seen from unsuccessful families; things like divorce tend to scare them.

“They ask themselves questions like; what if it happens to me too? What if my partner is not trustworthy? All this can lead to a person having doubts on whether they should get married,” he says.

Kamanzi says, however, that pre-marital counselling can help such people who are hesitant with going through with their weddings.

“Such a person should understand and be encouraged that the marriage institution is unique and that everyone’s story is different. If a couple only choose to love and trust each other, everything can turn out well,” he advises.

According to Jessica Kayitesi, a youth counsellor, when it comes to making major decisions in life, some people tend to start getting negative thoughts as the time for it approaches, and that this is why some just end up cancelling that particular thing all together.

She says, however, that before one does such a hurtful thing, they should consider what the other person would feel and reconsider their actions.

“Consider the other person’s feelings before you do such a thing, or better still, put yourself in their shoes. If one has doubts about marriage they should communicate to their partner and see if they can put the wedding on hold as they both prepare for that big step in their lives,” Kayitesi says.

The counsellor says that it is understandable if one gets jittery as D-day approaches, but she reminds couples that they are not alone and they have their partner with whom they can share their fears with.

“This makes everything easy when you voice out your thoughts instead of keeping quiet and embarrassing your partner at the last minute,’ she adds.

So, got cold feet? Are you experiencing a chilling fear as you realise that you’re about to spend the rest of your life with the same person? Don’t worry, it happens. This freak-out period just means you’re suffering from a case of pre-wedding jitters. Whether you’ve been looking forward to your big day since you were little or you didn’t really think about it until the engagement was final, getting married is undeniably a big event.

You are making a lifetime commitment to your relationship, and you’ve got a whole day planned, and family and friends often travel from miles away to attend.

Wedding jitters don’t signify a disaster, so stay calm and remember why you got engaged in the first place. That should bring perspective to the situation.

Why do some people get cold feet towards their wedding day?

Ambrose Asiimwe

Ambrose Asiimwe, intern, Rwanda Social Security Board

I think some people get to discover intolerable character.

Others just fear taking responsibility and with this comes issues of high budgets that end up not being met, thus the cancellation of the wedding.



Moreen Sanyu

Moreen Sanyu, office administrator

For some, it’s mostly the doubt a person has carried through the course of the relationship.

This makes one reconsider the person they are yet to commit to the rest of their life.

At times, if one person was rushing another, one is definitely bound to pull out.

Rodgers Munyaneza

Rodgers Munyaneza, banker

Committing to spending the rest of your life with someone is a very huge step for one to take and that’s why at some point, a person can start having doubts.

So fear to commit can be one of the reasons to call off a wedding.


Joan Nakazibwe, fashion designer

Joan Nakazibwe

Many people dream of getting married, but they sometimes do not realise just how big the step they are about to take is.

So as D-day approaches, they freak out.

However, I think deciding to get married when you are really ready for it can be helpful, also, building an air of trust between yourselves as a couple can help when making this decision.


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