Dream wedding puts young Kenyans in financial trouble
Posted by Administrator on March 18, 2011
“Our wedding rings cost us 80.000 Kenyan shillings [one thousand US dollars, ed.]. You only get married once, you know”, says Waitherero, a Kenyan woman who recently got married. She chuckles heartily as she remembers the day. More and more Kenyans are competing to outdo each other in ‘dream’ weddings.
By Caasi Sagala, Nairobi
There was a trail of flashy cars, a bridal party with dozens of guests and hundreds to be fed. They choose an exclusive honeymoon destination and had to pay for expensive caterers and service providers. In total the wedding cost around eight thousand US dollars. To a Westerner this may sound like a normal budget for a wedding, but it is very expensive by Kenyan standards where the majority of the population survives on under a dollars a day.
But nowadays a modern Kenyan wedding isn’t complete without a touch of opulence and glamour. Although Waitherero describes her wedding budget as ‘modest’, arguing that some people spend much more, most couples can’t afford all this and are forced to borrow money. Many Kenyans think wedding ceremonies have become too expensive.
Selling a kidney
The pressure is so high that one Kenyan man recently offered to sell a kidney in order to pay for his wedding. The quest for a ‘dream wedding’ has left other couples bankrupt.
Muthingu, a woman in her thirties, tells her story: “We invested all our life savings. We even took a loan to finance the wedding. Allan, my husband, and I had to outshine our friends who got married before us. It was a great ceremony, but after the honeymoon we had no money left for rent and groceries. We thought our friends would send wedding gifts that would sustain us, but that was not the case.”
She confesses it took them over a year to recover financially. But she says, “I have no regrets. Up to today, people still talk about our wedding.”
Some Kenyans go as far as hiring helicopters, limousines and exotic islands for their wedding celebration, just to impress others.
“Competition for the best wedding is healthy”, explains Muthingu. “If the couple is truly in love, then money shouldn’t be an issue. An expensive wedding proves that a man is capable and willing to do whatever it takes to take care of his future wife. Only a respectable man will walk a woman down the aisle. It all has to do with dignity.”
Pressure for perfection
Ken, an accountant who plans to get married in December, thinks the pressure to have a perfect wedding is too high: “It’s unrealistic. Why spend a fortune on a dream wedding and put yourself in a financial trouble you may never recover from?” Ken thinks this is the reason why most Kenyan men prefer not to get married. “It is very costly competition. My girlfriend says she is waiting for the British Royal Wedding to get unique ideas for our wedding in December. I am thinking of dumping her.”
But Ken is only one man. His decision won’t stop the competition for the perfect wedding from putting many more young Kenyans in financial trouble.
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