Lavish weddings: Are they the beginning of 'until poverty do us apart' vows?

Ariane Umurerwa, a 28- year-old fresh graduate, dumped her college sweetheart to marry a man who promised her a dream wedding. She married her husband for all the reasons in the world except love.

Ariane Umurerwa, a 28- year-old fresh graduate, dumped her college sweetheart to marry a man who promised her a dream wedding. She married her husband for all the reasons in the world except love. He had a posh car, a house, a classy job and cash, lots of it. Indeed Umurerwa’s wedding was the talk of town; everything from the wedding cake to the reception was classy.

However, a few months into the marriage, financial troubles set in, the man couldn’t afford to service the wife’s luxurious demands, arguments kicked in and before they knew it, they were headed to the divorce courtroom.

The beauty and meaning of marriage seems to have been replaced with an overwhelming need for people’s desire to splash on big and lavish wedding ceremonies.

From the engagement ring, wedding dress, the cake to honeymoon, and the reception everything is paid for in six figure digits, but then what next? 

Jacky Gashumba is planning to get married next year and she hopes to have a fantastic wedding at whatever cost. 

“My fiancée is well off and I am certain he is going to give me the best wedding ever, so why not celebrate my day in a lavish ceremony? I refrained from dating broke men because I knew they wouldn’t give me what I want. I however wouldn’t advise a person to go for expensive weddings which they can’t afford, they should do what’s within their means,” Gashumba says.

This kind of happiness that is seen at wedding ceremonies most times doesn’t last long.

For Gloria Kaneza, expensive weddings give her both a feeling of guilt and annoyance especially if she is sure of the couple’s status as not wealthy.

“When I attend a big, expensive wedding that is obviously beyond the couple’s means, I feel worried for them.  I’ve been to weddings where the bride and groom actually had to incur the burden of debt just for a wedding ceremony! Why would anyone fall into such a trap?” she wonders

Livingstone Buyinza, a married man, argues that people these days get married for all the wrong reasons. Some women love money more than anything and for the men to impress, they resort to extravagant spending.

“I think people should take on what they can handle; within their means, because spending a lot of money on a mere wedding ceremony is a waste. This is money that you would have used for something more important in your new life, this extravagance can never be a wise step,” Buyinza says.

He says that he understands the sentiments attached to how special the day is but insists that one should spend wisely.

Buyinza continues to explain that if one compares with the past years, there is a huge difference in how things are done whether it is a wedding ceremony or even later, the marriages themselves. He went on to attribute this to factors like technology and modernity which came with many advantages but also many other disadvantages. 

The major problem is lack of respect. Try and imagine a home where both partners are well educated; what do you get other than a competition. This whole thing rotates around respect, when there is no respect obviously things can’t work out,” he says.

He also points out the issues rotating around gender equality which he says is a brilliant concept that some women knowingly misuse or ignorantly misinterpret. 

Jeff Ntambara; a married man also echoes a similar view saying that the whole focus of marriage seems to have been lost in spectacular weddings.

A wedding ceremony should be within one’s means.

He argues that some people don’t understand that a marriage is very much different from the wedding ceremony; concentrating more on the wedding day and caring less about the real reason for the wedding which is marriage.

“If someone spent millions for just that one day, how do they expect to survive with the responsibilities that are set to come after? Actually this is one of the major things preventing men from marrying. Most young men fear the expenses and for the brave who do it they end up taking loans which is a serious recipe for disaster and I am sure that’s why cohabiting is becoming common nowadays,” Ntambara says. 

He advises young couples to discuss and have a wedding that is within their means other than starting ‘your honeymoon in debts’.

The “begging” meetings

Simon Kalisa is a 32-year-old man whose plan is to marry in future but is hesitant because of financial constraints. He hopes that he can finally be able to finance his wedding ceremony without necessarily asking friends and family for financial support.

“I think collecting money from colleagues is some other form of begging and my ego just can’t take that. It’s burdening people over matters that are not that important. I think one can always do something simple instead of resorting to unreasonable steps like taking loans. A wedding ceremony is not an investment,” Kalisa adds.

Most people go all out to impress on their wedding day but have to deal with financial issues after the ceremony. (Net photos)

Norah Mukamwezi, a 57 year old mother who has been married for over thirty years says that her wedding was a simple one where a few close family members were invited, treated to a simple meal and that’s how humble the beginning of her marriage was.

“Things today are totally different from our days; couples even have to organize meetings to ask for contributions for their ceremony. I think this isn’t necessary, if you want to have a wedding ceremony and you don’t have the financial ability, wait till you are able,” she says.

She says that people want to impress but the same people who praise you now are the ones who will laugh at you when you are left with nothing. She therefore advises young couples to be true to themselves. 

Claire Mutoni is a 28-year -old woman who is engaged and plans to tie the knot with her fiancée soon. She is convinced that some people are taking matters to the extreme when it comes to weddings.

She says, what some people do is just pathetic; they rent luxurious houses for at least three months after their wedding just to show the world that they can really manage and after that, shift to a simple house which they can afford.

“It doesn’t in any way make sense and what does it mean anyway? People are just showing off forgetting that nobody really cares about what’s going on in their lives,” she says

She advises other young people to opt for the civil wedding as they sort their financial situation to meet the cost of their dream wedding. 

“Marriage is not all about what other people think, what matters is what’s between the two of you who are actually in the marriage, It’s fine if you have the money but if you can’t afford it, don’t stress yourself,” Mutoni adds.


Do you support the idea of spending lavishly on a wedding?

Théoneste Murwanashyaka

Theoneste Murwanashyaka

Definitely not, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on a wedding of just one day. Even if I had extra disposable income, I wouldn’t. I would rather save that money for future use. In my opinion, I think what matters is just a wedding no matter how low key it is, nothing changes the fact that it still is a wedding.

Jean Marie Vianney Sibomana

Jean Marie Vianney Sibomana

People need to know that expensive weddings don’t add any value to marriage, thus spending millions on a mere wedding is unnecessary extravagance. People need to think beyond their comfortable zone and walk away from such situations that are really beyond their means.

Alphonse Nsabimana

Alphonse Nsabimana

In my opinion it is very fine to have an expensive wedding if you can afford it. If you are not going to bother people with meetings asking for contributions to finance your heavy budget, then I have no problem but if you take on a wedding that is beyond your means, then there is a problem.

Alphonse Bizimana

Alphonse Bizimana

Why not save that heavy amount you are spending on that wedding and invest it later to support the family. I don’t think it’s wise to spend a lot of money on something that will only remain a memory while there will be other demanding essential family expenses.

Alex Dushimimana

Alex Dushimimana

Good Life doesn’t start or end with an expensive wedding. I think for most people, throwing an expensive wedding is mainly a matter of showing off or pleasing their partners. This isn’t an intelligent move for educated people or simply people who know how the world is moving financially. This is money that can be used later when need arises.

Compiled by Dennis Agaba