“We were in love. That is all that mattered at the time. My fiancé had saved some money over the years and I hadn’t because I was in school. But he wanted to give me my dream wedding and I wasn’t going to stop him. So we used it all, naturally with some extra assistance from family and friends.
Some of my friends told me it was a pricy wedding but I didn’t care. I planned on getting married only once and it had to be a day to remember. I just couldn’t see how I would make my day special on a lesser budget,” recalls Flavia Uwamariya, 32, who tied the knot a year and a half ago.
In the beginning, weddings were as simple and sincere as mornings; they were affordable too and were a culmination of love and a beginning of a new life as husband and wife.
They still are a culmination of love, but the price tag on them is getting too high for some young people in love to go through with it. The most modest wedding would probably take the couple back slightly over Rwf1, 000,000 which is still too much for young love and sometimes needs to be facilitated through debts and loans.
Some young stars are often heard saying, “I will get married when I get rich.”
But as much as people want to have pomp and glamour at their weddings, it should not be at the expense of breaking a bank. There are ways to get around it without draining your savings or having to fundraise.
Do you really need a convoy of limousines?
Weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime thing - unless you are polygamous - one should make it as memorable as possible. But this shouldn’t make you stretch to the extent of hiring limousines and Range Rovers you have probably never been in before just for your photo gallery to look glamorous.
Whatever vehicle you choose to ferry the wedding entourage still serves purpose - as long as it is not a bike.
Truth be told, a ride in an overpriced chauffeured ride and a ride in a normal vehicle would still feel the same only that there would be fewer onlookers.
Must you invite everyone?
While planning for her big day two years ago, Aline Tumukunde’s biggest task was drawing up the guest list. She wanted everyone she knew to witness her big day, including the boy who broke her heart in Senior 2.
“Determining who to invite was an uphill task. The more people I invited, the more the cost escalated because of their individual expenses like meals and drinks. It finally dawned on me that to have a classy wedding at a reasonable cost; I would have to reduce the number of guests. It is never an easy thing to choose who to include on the guest list among my many friends and colleagues.”
Tumukunde goes on to say that close friends and family is all one needs for a perfect wedding.
“Though most of us would never admit it, we at times include some people on the guest list just to prove to them that our lives turned out fine despite them trying to disappoint us. Weddings in Rwanda are usually open door, everyone is invited even when they do not know the bride or groom, and that is a reason for the high costs. With a guest list that is adhered to, it will be definitely cheaper,” Tumukunde says.
They are your friends, right? Make use of them
While planning and preparing weddings, it is common to se, the soon-to-be married couple hire wedding planners, master of ceremonies, ushers, organisers, and other service people at the wedding while they have friends around them who can perform just as well.
Edwin Mutazihana, a 31-year-old who in March this year will mark five years of marriage, had his big day when he had just completed campus and had only worked for a few months.
“We were young and hadn’t saved much. But we were so in love that it didn’t matter how we got married. Having worked only a few months, I could not afford to hire service providers, so I requested a few friends to help us out. One of my wife’s friends had a professional camera so we requested her to be the photographer, others came in to assist as the masters of ceremony and ushers during the reception and another came in as a DJ.”
For Mutazihana, rather than ask for financial contributions he sought for contributions in terms of services and his friends came through. Rather than hiring stereo equipment, he requested a friend to lend him one for the day.
Still on making use of friends and available resources, expenses on food and drinks have the greatest weight on the budget.
What if you could have your friends assist in preparing the food for the guests rather than hire catering services which would take you back a mile financially? Think about it; with catering services, you have to pay for the food, the transportation and the manpower among other things. But having friends come over to put a grand meal together might just be the best thing ever. Wouldn’t you still have a party to write home about? Wouldn’t it spare you the trouble of having to deal with expensive caterers who are at times unreliable?
“When you pass around a sheet of paper asking people to contribute financially, few may have the kind of money that you would be looking for, but they can give a hand in a different way,” says Mutazihana.
Why buy a gown or suit you can only wear once?
We have grown knowing that a wedding is incomplete if the bride is not in a white flowing gown that cannot be worn elsewhere and the groom is in a new well cut suit. That same mentality leads ladies into importing wedding gowns from Dubai and men having tailor-made suits that cost an ‘arm, a leg and a kidney’.
Mutazihana defied more odds at his wedding when he showed up in a suit and shoes that he had been spotted in before.
“There is a school of thought that one should have new and expensive clothes on their wedding day. You find some brides go to the extent of buying a dress that they can never wear elsewhere or the groom in a cocktail suit that cannot be worn formally. If you are trying to cut down on the budget, get one of your nice suits ironed and step out, there is nothing wrong with the bride walking down in one of her favourite cocktail dresses,” he says.
Weekends are overrated
Lately, there is a breed of couples that is defying the tradition of having weddings on Saturdays as has been the norm. Once in a while, on weekdays, on your way home from work, you may have a convoy of vehicles decorated in ribbons zoom past you on their way to a chapel to say their vows. One of the reasons they may opt for a weekday is because it is cheaper to reserve venues like hotel halls as there is less demand for them on weekdays and also expenses to entertain guests are relatively low since the reception lasts only a few hours.
Don’t get caught up in the hype
It is often said that girls have more interest in the wedding more than men do. Prior to the wedding, they go through volumes of magazines, books and movies to get clues on how to brighten their weddings. They seek to replicate weddings they consider fancy, which Marie Ishimwe, a 40-year-old who has been married for 17 years, considers a mistake.
“Young people getting married at times try to copy what they see on TV or in magazines which can be expensive and financially straining. Plan early enough knowing what you would like in advance and stick to it. You do not have to do what everyone else is doing; we are all different in terms of tastes and financial abilities.”
How much a wedding costs, shouldn’t really determine it’s worth, it should be determined by the sincerity of the partners and their sheer ‘blindness’ to the hype, trends and costs of the weddings of those around them. Don’t be bothered by what the rest of the society considers standards for weddings, it’s your wedding and you can set your standards and a budget which fits so well in your pocket.