Why financial stress should not ruin your dream wedding

A wedding marks the start of a lifelong companionship. It is the beginning of the journey to marital bliss.

A wedding marks the start of a lifelong companionship. It is the beginning of the journey to marital bliss.

A reception in the Caribbean or at the sandy beaches in Seychelles might sound like the perfect place to host your dream wedding.


Every one prays for that kind of wedding we only see in movies. But far from the movies, in real life you can have your dream wedding too. Does everyone get to have their dream wedding? Or are some couples taking on more than they can afford?


Richard Byagatonda got married 15 years ago; his wedding was as simple as they come. To him, it was just a ceremony leading to their happily-ever-after so spending a fortune on just one day wasn’t a prudent stride on their part.


“Our wedding cost us only one million francs, we invited a few people, the reception was at our family home, and basically everything was simple. We have been together for 15 years now and we are still going strong,” Byagatonda says.

“When a wedding is only about a fancy party, life after the big day can be tough, especially if you went all out to make it happen. That’s why I think that planning well right from the engagement day, in some way, contributes to a successful marriage,” he adds.


For Lillian Mutaganzwa, her wedding was classy and somewhat expensive. She had the wedding of her dreams because they could afford it.

“My husband and I always wanted to have the wedding of our dreams, one where we could astound our guests and make them happy. We spent over Rwf 8million but it was worth it. We had the time of our lives,” she says.

However, Mutaganzwa says that people should only do what their pockets agree with. “If you have the cash, splash it around on that once-in-a-lifetime moment, but if you can’t afford the luxury, then you need to plan accordingly because there is life waiting after the ceremony,” she says.

It is wonderful to have resources enough to cover every luxurious desire for your wedding day. But unless you just won the lottery, have a high-end job, have saved money from when you were a child, or are related to some oil tycoon, you might want to take some things into consideration.

Paul Bitariho, a young business man, says that the reasonable decision would be to scrap wedding meetings all together since people tend to make budgets expecting friends and family to cover the cost.

“I don’t support people who make unrealistic budgets for weddings they can’t afford. Right now, I have more than five weddings lined up, and of course all of them expect money, this is a problem. You find that one plans to spend like Rwf6million on his wedding but as an individual, he only has Rwf500, 000 and he comfortably expects others to contribute the rest, this is undeniably ludicrous,” Bitariho says.

Bitariho adds that couples should avoid the mentality of ‘spending to impress or ‘be better than so and so’; they should do what makes them happy and most importantly, what they can afford.


Simon Kalisa is single and is of the view that millions can be spent if only the couple is in a great financial position.

He says that ‘portraying’ a rich status at a wedding is of no use if walls will fall in after.

“All a couple needs is real commitment and happiness; this should be the first priority instead of getting champagne fountains to make your wedding the talk of the town.

“Others even plan weddings abroad, now this is another case. It doesn’t help spending your entire savings if, God forbid, all you’ll remain with are photos after a divorce,” Kalisa says.

Kalisa adds, “In my opinion, I think Africans have lost the sense of direction for things that used to matter the most. We tend to follow what’s trending, we want to do what we see in movies and imitate the likes of Denzel Washington and what have you.”

Deborah Umutoni is currently engaged. She says that her budget is within the means that she and her fiancée can afford. She has no plans to hold meetings because to her, that’s close to begging.

“I think my wedding should be a day for my friends and family to join me in celebrating my love. I don’t see why they should contribute money yet it’s my day. A simple place for a reception and later honeymooning at some tiny romantic hotel is cozy enough for me,” Umutoni says.

She adds that couples sometimes complicate matters and go into unnecessary debt like taking loans to meet unrealistic items on their budgets. And to her, “these are just uncalled for expenses.”

“What’s wrong with taking a loan to finance my wedding,” asks part-time architect, Josephine Komukama.

Komukama is of the view that weddings come once, therefore you have to make the day as memorable as you can.

“I only plan to get married once, and I don’t want to compromise my wedding day all in the name of cutting costs. I don’t expect my friends and family to come up with the cost, so it will be best to get a loan and have the wedding of my dreams. Besides, people get loans for less important things,” Komukama says.


32-year-old Daisy Namara does not like the idea of starting a marriage in debt. And she’s not too keen on passing pledge cards around either.

“I have been saving for my wedding day since I got my first job after I left college. I always said that if I didn’t get married, I would have a baby anyway and use the money as a trust fund. However, I am lucky that as we speak, I am engaged.

“My fiancé can’t believe how much money I’ve saved over the years. I plan on having a very simple but very memorable wedding day,” Namara says.

So, unless you’re planning to elope, you’re going to need a lot more than luck to get through your wedding day.

How you decide to finance your wedding will be one of the first important decisions you make as a couple.



Tips to have a dream wedding without breaking the bank

Be flexible about your wedding date. Saturday night is the most popular choice and commands top prices. You can get better pricing for weddings on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. This applies to your food and virtually all other services. Many hotels offer well-priced packages on these less common days.

Limit your guest list. Be realistic and invite those people with whom you have an emotional connection. Don’t invite people out of obligation, because they just might come, out of obligation.

Plan a destination wedding. A combination of celebration and vacation, this is one of the best ways to keep your guest list in check and reserve your budget for the types of activities that create life-long memories. With fewer guests, you will be able to afford a more elegant venue and meal.

Do It Yourself. DIY projects provide a creative outlet and the opportunity to save money. Websites such as DIYbride and A Practical Wedding provide useful DIY tips and projects for brides.

Find creative ways to decorate. Shop flea markets and thrift stores to find vintage items for centerpieces and other décor items. Everything does not have to match, as long as it is within a cohesive theme.

Skip the full bar. A full service bar is expensive. Serve beer and wine instead, or better yet, a signature drink in an elegant martini glass in keeping with your colour.

Shorten the time frame of the cocktail hour. Make it 30 minutes instead, and save on the amount of hors d’oeuvres (appetizers) and drinks served.

Skip the formal dinner. Create a stylish lounge with cocktail tables and lounge furniture; serve elegant hors d’oeuvres instead of the traditional dinner.

Rent your bridal attire. There are bridal shops that offer an extensive collection of wedding gowns for rent, from budget-friendly dresses to couture gowns.





Save for it

Jackie Akilla, student

Jackie Akilla

I believe a wedding is a planned function; an event that a couple takes time to plan.With this in mind, I would prefer saving for it, and that way, I will have a memorable wedding.

Friends and family can help

Vincent Kazubwenge, model

Vincent Kazubwenge

Everyone wishes to save and finance their wedding, but that is sometimes far from reality. Our savings usually don’t amount to the kind of weddings we want, thus we go out and seek other options or even a helping hand. Friends and family are better choices to seek assistance from other than savings.

Get a loan

Remy Mugabo, artist

Remy Mugabo

We all wish to have great memories of our wedding day, so to pull this off, you must make it extraordinary. I don’t mean luxurious, but fine and within one’s reach. I would do anything within my means to have a memorable wedding day; and that includes taking a small loan which I can service later on.

Work hard and pay for it 

Collins Ronald, writer and business student

Collins Ronald

I prefer working tirelessly for the wedding of my dreams. Good things don’t come easy; I would rather work extra hours if it can help foot my own wedding bill. To me,the wedding is something a couple should take charge of. Family and friends can give you a hand, but it’s good to find yourself in a stable position.

Compiled by Dennis Agaba

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