Celebrating East African Writing!

What’s the deal with weddings? By ADAM vs EVE

Eve asks: What’s the deal with weddings?

Cinderella was an ordinary girl, until one night she was made extraordinarily beautiful in every perfect way. This night, she got to know how it feels to dress, and be treated like a princess. At the ball, when the ‘spot light’ was on her, the world saw and realized how beautiful she was; before the prince noticed and subsequently fell in love with her. On this night, her world changed completely; when the prince neglected all other ladies for Cinderella.

On her wedding day, a woman declares before all suitors that she is no longer available to them. For one day, a woman wants to look flawless in the eyes of her ‘prince’. She wants to dazzle, and in the process make memories that will remind her man, of the beauty and perfection’ that made him fall in love with her. Even a plain Jane, feels beautiful on her wedding day because for just one; every woman wants the whole world to stand still and to focus on her.

Life from the wedding day is no fairy tale; it goes downhill from there. She will henceforth struggle to be noticed, and remain relevant. She will deteriorate as she bears children; her beauty will fade as she grows older. Only pictures remain of the memories memories. While declaring her unavailability to other suitors would seem like a good thing to women; given a choice, men would rather have their options open. That is the reason weddings are not as popular with men; as they are with women; after a wedding, telling other women to keep off does not seem right to them.

Additionally, romance died a slow obscured death, as today’s men become stingy in an anti-weddings champions league! The essence of a wedding is romance. The ambience, glamour, and the music, that accompanies the heartfelt emotions; set the pace for the exchange of vows to commit to each other in totality. This creates an environment for two people; to express their immense love for each other, and their intention to nurture that love in front of family and friends. No matter what the style, every wedding big or small, celebrates a love story; literally, spiritually, and aesthetically.

Like romance, weddings and its significance are staring the death in the face! There is no sense in blaming the hard economic times. Men like the farmer who wrote “I love you” in cow dung and then flew his wife up in a plane to view it as a gesture of romance; are now as elusive as the proverbial needle in a hay stack. Nowadays, when a man meets a lady, he finds it painfully boring and worthless; to waste time on dinner dates and outings. All that would be skipped straight to the sex; romance is endangered, leaving many women feeling neglected and unloved.

Men need to view a wedding as an expression of undying love, which should in essence be priceless. It leaves you wondering if men prefer to shove the ring in your face, and expect you to feel good about being a wife. It is the feeling of love and total abandon on the man’s part, that tells the love of his life that nothing is too much.

Adam replies: Weddings are made in hell.

We tensely sat at the back of the car, awaiting feedback from the negotiating team of wazees. Unable to bear the more than two hours of tension, the bridegroom, Peter, asked me to accompany him for a walk to nowhere. I was his best man, and this was the first wedding that I was seriously involved in. We silently took a walk, the only thing on our mind being the release of the bride. Bone of contention? The girl’s father wanted ‘compensation’, not dowry, of Kshs.400, 000. This was in 1995 and such money was, and still is, out of the reach of many ordinary Kenyans. Eventually, so we later learnt, he was given a down payment of Kshs.40, 000; the rest was to be paid before the church service was over, that is in less than two hours.

The day had been ruined as early as 8 a.m. When we made it to Church, the vows were exchanged and the couple broke down; the drama was not over. Late in the evening when we were done with the modalities of food, gifts, in-laws etc, we settled in the couple’s house, ready to change for the evening ball. That is when we discovered that the bride’s (or is it wife now) suitcase had been detained by her cousins, and some aunts, demanding more payment. This time my friend broke down and wailed like a two-year-old baby.

“This is supposed to be the best and happiest day of my life,” he sobbed. “Why are they doing this to us?” A crying man might be a sight to behold, but a wailing grown up man is a pitiable sight.

After much pushing, shoving and threats, we finally got the suitcase out of the girl’s home; went ahead with what was meant to be a happy wedding.

Isolated case? Not really. Less than a year later, a colleague of mine had his wedding stopped by the bride’s estranged dad, claiming he had not sanctioned the wedding. This is a man who had abandoned his family when they were young. Twenty years or so later, he resurfaces to claim a part in his daughter’s wedding.

When my turn to walk down the aisle came, I was ready to avoid all the pitfalls that had befallen my friends. First, I was not going for anything glamorous, mainly for the reason that; what I was earning then could not sustain an alluring wedding (unsecured bank loans were unheard of those days). Most of my friends were freshly employed, and I saw no sense in taxing people for goods, only I would be sampling. Plus, my wife-to-be had just graduated and was still jobless.

Sensible? …Looks like. The first objection came from my dad, insisting that I had to follow the traditional chronological order used by our forefathers. My eldest brother had a wife and children, but the traditional part, had not been sorted out. My immediate elder brother had a girlfriend but no wife, so I had to wait. My wife-to-be was told the same thing – being the youngest of three girls, she was asked to wait for the older girls (all with grown up children) to clear with the traditional bit.

We did not wait for anyone, though our parish priest refused to go ahead with the ceremony, citing family issues; (and they wonder why there are such few church weddings). Another priest came to our rescue when he advised us to first go to the Attorney General’s office, then come to Church with the marriage certificate.

Weddings; who needs all that stress? Why do other people have higher stakes in weddings than the bride and bridegroom? And why do men fear weddings?

Weddings (not to be confused with the holy sacrament of marriage) are, to say the least, a nuisance; a great interruption to the rigours of life, and an arena of extreme absurdity. It is the only day that a man is reduced to ashes by a single utterance; from irresponsible relatives or a malicious ex. First there is the whole issue of finances. If you cannot afford a wedding, save your friends the embarrassment of collecting money for this cause.

One might argue that from days before, weddings and marriages have been community affairs. However, with the advent of modernity (read materialism), individualism has taken over. It is high time people appreciated that marriage will always remain a union between two people, not the whole nation.

First Published January 21, 2010 in East Africa in Focus

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