I know the female folk are going to chew me up after they read this piece while the guys will be thanking me that finally someone had the guts to say it. Whoa, here goes, almost everyone thinks of having a hubby or wifey one day. Ladies begin to imagine their wedding from the time they lay their hands on a Cinderella book. However, life is not that fairytale we read, the reality is always far from it especially if you live in a country called Zambia. Getting married in Zambia almost borders on a nightmarish experience.
Over the weekend I attended a friend’s wedding and it got me thinking what he and his bride had to go through to put it together. Even though it was a modest wedding one can only imagine the preparations that went behind the scenes. In Zambia, before you consider getting married a guy really has to think twice. It is rarely the question of do I want to get married rather can I afford to get married that guys grapple with. Honestly speaking it costs an arm and a leg to say, “I do.” Let me attempt to break it down.
Before a guy can consider getting down on his knees to propose, he must be well aware that his decision will come with a little something called lobola (bride price). The lobola that is charged these days is not some pocket change. The amounts that are charged are sometimes too exorbitant as if the parents have found their gold mine. The lobola usually depends on the ladies family and usually the amounts are well above K5 million. Once this hurdle is out of the way then we are in for it. The lady starts to dream and the bills start coming.
Immediately the lady will announce to the whole world that she is getting married, flash her engagement ring to anyone who dares look at her fingers, change her Facebook status to read engaged, start arranging the dates of the kitchen party, mabeto (if you are entitled to one) and of course the wedding. Regardless of whether you attempt to convince yourselves that you want a modest wedding, you are still going to spend huge amounts of money.
Based on my research through inquiry from workmates who have gotten married and from a site called Dear Zambia I have gathered that a decent wedding will probably cost you more than K25 million, this by the way is for an average wedding. There are many things that gobble up the costs such as venue- K5 million, cake- K2 million, decorations- K3 million, catering- K5 million, wedding dress- K4 million, groom’s suit- K1 million, rings K1.5 million and other miscellaneous costs (these are even generous amounts). This is just for the wedding mind you, bear in mind that if there is a kitchen party you will be required to fork out as well. Then there are costs that cannot be quantified such as the stress. In Zambia the bride wants to be the wedding planner, the decorator, dress designer, caterer all wrapped in one. By the time the beautiful day arrives she is exhausted to the bone. The cost is also not only on the couple marrying but the friends and family too. Gone are the days when on a line up you can expect to receive a free suit. The bridesmaids and best men have to buy their own attires. I have no qualms about this but if five close friends invite me on their line up that is a cost I cannot afford.
Do not get me wrong, I have no problem about having weddings, if we can afford them that is. However, let us be honest about this most of us cannot afford it. The problem is that most of our ladies cannot just understand this and over their dead bodies will they accept it. If a guy needs to rob a bank or get a loan, so be it but deny her a wedding thou shall not do. You are even in trouble if your fiancée has grand scale plans of a wedding to resemble that of the royal wedding or Kim Kardashian. Ninshi wapya. Weddings are beginning to lose their intimate touch they are more to do with making a statement than celebrating the occasion. It is as if it is a competition to see who will have the designer dress, hire the best venue or whose wedding will be the talk of the town. All this is definitely not worth the cost that will be incurred. Honestly, why have 200 people at the reception when you barely know half of them. Most of them are friends of parents, friends of friends, gate crashers and none of them will be there at your time of need.
It is definitely not the best way to start a marriage in financial difficulty, paying back debt that you could have avoided. The money spent on the wedding could have been invested to set you up for the future or put into a trust fund for your kids education. There would be no regrets of the money that has been wasted to entertain people you will never see again.
So I have a simple solution to all this. Instead of a wedding, I would prefer going to civic centre to register the marriage it merely costs K300, 000- K600, 000 depending on how quick you want to register the marriage. Then jet off to Livingstone, Mauritius or even Paris for the honeymoon. I would not mind making a little junior in Paris or Mauritius. The cost of this will be far less than the cost of the wedding and it will definitely be money well spent.
In conclusion, we cannot run away from the fact that a wedding is a very expensive occasion. It requires a lot of financial resources most of which the average Zambian does not have. I think it is time that our ladies understand that sometimes a wedding is not necessary. If a guy can afford it then you have every right to demand one but if he cannot please understand. I brace myself for the backlash of this piece from the ladies and may all the guys agree with me by saying, “Aye.”