Kenyans and Wedding Committees, a Tale of Exploitation

Saying it on paper

Kenyans have mastered the art of setting up committees, we form committees for anything and everything from Weddings, Funerals, school fees, travelling abroad to medical costs.

Out of all the above, all others are valid except two. Weddings and Travelling abroad. The later has since reduced as the US has since become very strict on issuing visas to those seeking green cards and the IRS will not issue work permits to students.

That leaves us with the worst and most emotionally torturous type which has continued to disregard any manner of decency.

This post was prompted by a campaign that my friend @SavvyKenya is running on twitter with the Hashtag #SayNoToWeddingCommittees

While it is o.k to involve your close friends and relatives in preparation for your wedding, most Kenyans have mis-interpreted this kind gesture that friends will offer of ‘Helping you organise your wedding’.

There is a saying among men,

Weddings are for the bride and her relatives, the groom just foots the bill.

It is no secret that weddings are a women affair. We plan every detail right from the theme, the colours, playlist, suppliers and venues. Sometimes we also hint strongly on where to be taken for honeymoon though that’s the only detail the man is usually left to handle, apart from the  rings that is. Women start planning for their dream wedding from the time they are girls barely in their teens and getting the man willing to walk down the aisle just completes plan.

The year was 2010
The year was 2010

It is this obsession with having ‘The Perfect Dream Wedding‘ that is making most couples extort money from their friends in the name of wedding committees. I have, on several occasions, heard from my friends, relatives and colleagues of how they were included this a certain wedding committee, of a relative, a friend or even someone they haven’t seen in 10 years.

My friend Mwende shared with me her harrowing experience with an old friend she hadn’t seen in over 10 years. The friend, out of the blue, just called, informed her she was getting married and that Mwende had been included in the list of those who were to contribute 10K each. Mwende, in dis-belief informed her, she didn’t have that kind of money but could try get whatever she could to help her. On the wedding day, the husband to be calls her asking,

Are you still contributing to our wedding?

 

It has now become acceptable for a couple to budget for a wedding that will cost Half a Million (Ksh. 500,000) yet their own contribution is only 100K. They will be bold enough to give you the breakdown of the expenses as well as what each committee member is supposed to raise to make the couple’s wedding a success.

If you thought they were joking, wait until they start calling you every day, sending you email, sms and whatsapp reminders regarding your contribution.

Why not start saving at 12 years or at least take a bank/sacco loan to finance your own damn wedding if the thought of going to the AGs on a Friday afternoon and only spending 2K is beneath you.

 

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15 comments

    • admin Post authorReply

      Thank you. I chose the fabric and got a Senegalese designer to make it. A very valid question you have. There is too much investment on the day rather than the life, marriage life.
      I think the worst part in contributing such an obscene amount in a committee is for the couple to break up less than 5 years later.

  1. Ciru Reply

    A wedding as I have always said is not an investment. If you MUST have a wedding, have a wedding that you can foot alone. Your wife/husband to be is not my investment as your friend etc? Hence I am not entitled to dividends after the big day. Let us not stress others with this hullabaloo…. At the end of the day we are all after the certificate which even at the AG’s we can get. We need to stop impressing the world.

  2. Eric Reply

    Hit the nail on the head….If you are getting married, we are not all getting married together with you. I respect couples who plan their wedding and invite you to witness, after all it is their day when they celebrate their union. Considering you have other options as well to do your wedding at a cost you can afford (read AG), use it! Cut your coat according to your cloth they say!

    • admin Post authorReply

      Eric,

      I like that, “We are not getting married together with you” most couples think they are!

  3. Wairimu Reply

    Too true! I have completely refused to take part in any wedding committees that required me to give anything other than my service, say following up with the tent person or doing subsidized rate make-up 🙂 When those not-close friends include me in their committee I just make it clear that I don’t do that…
    For myself, I went to the AG’s on a Wednesday morning, and I’m as married as anyone else who spent a small car on their wedding…

    • admin Post authorReply

      Hi Wairimu,

      wow, I didn’t know that some couples also include service providers in their committee? Kudos on going to the AG. Had I known what I know now 4 years ago, I would have gone to the AGs as well.

  4. kip Reply

    My wife and I went to the AG on a lose Friday morning with two very close friends (mostly her idea) even though we could afford the pomp and drama that comes with a wedding day. And guess what, we would do the same exact thing if time was turned back coz the money we could have spent is now working for us in other ways…

    • admin Post authorReply

      Kudos for that. It is only several years later you wonder what the fuss was all about.

  5. gicharusm Reply

    Hi, thanks for your article, however im of a different opinion….Well you may say i disagree with you coz im actually in the heart of my wedding committee and yes i am calling, texting FB, wassup ALL!! Reminding people to honor their pledges.
    Why does it remain a culture amongst us Kenyans?..
    Okay let me speak for myself and not all Kenyans…I am hustling friends because in the past i have not been spared!!!! I have grown with this perception (which i appreciate btw) that people ought to help each other in all life matters regardless…marriage, school, wedding etc..soon as i cleared campus i was blessed to have a job, friends called me texted..etc on wedding contributions..some i didnt give coz i didnt have but most of the time i give..its a good feeling when you have something small to split with your friend…God did not command us to “give (except in weddings) and it shall be given back you” In the eyes of God you have given……in my view this shall remain a reoccurring chain..why? if i was hustled by my good friends and i managed to part with a cent or two…why shouldn’t i also call for help when i need assistance? (if i had the money,then no need to call them)….but i will be quick to say that when one does not “return a favor”..i never judge in any way…
    Well i know there are many dimensions to this so yes you have a point.

    Thanks for the mind provoking piece!
    Sam

    • admin Post authorReply

      Hi Gicharu,

      Whereas I agree with you on having friends and family pitch in. What I disapprove of is deciding to spend an exorbitant amount then proceeding to set an amount for everyone not knowing what their financial situation is.

      Who said that a nice wedding has to cost half a million or that three quarters of that amount should be from friends?

      I am taking issue with the growing culture of spending too much money on the wedding and not enouch emotional investment or personal commitment to the actual marriage.

  6. Daniel Reply

    The traditional approach to a wedding was to have the nuclear families (parents to the bride and groom – but mostly the grooms side) taking up the responsibilities of entertaining guests and which is why the RSVP on cards bears the addresses of parents and the couple. Now, common courtesy and decency would dictate that a couple intending to wed actually comes up with a budget they (assuming so) have thought through and are able to afford. If not, it is prudent to pull in friends only to cushion 20% of the deficit. I have had a chance the misfortune to changa for weddings where we were taken on a wild goose chase. That particular couple raised half a million shillings from gullible friends then paid their air ticket to some destination. The short of it is, it it not prudent for any couple intending to wed to come up with a budget they cannot foot then impose it on friends. Naaaah.

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