These days, the cost of a wedding makes a year at Harvard and Yale look affordable. There are so many things to take into consideration and we know those big name vendors don’t come cheap. I heard about a girl who got engaged, and burst into tears because she had no idea how she was going to afford the wedding of her dreams.
From my research, the groom is traditionally expected to pay for the wedding expenses. Note the word expected because, though it’s expected, it doesn’t always work that way.
Why the groom?
People look up to the groom to pay for the wedding because the Nigerian tradition takes the role of the man as head very seriously. The man is head over his wife. He’s the provider. And he’s the one marrying the woman not otherwise. So he takes care of the bill for the wedding.
That said, in reality there are are many permutations, with parents, the couple, relatives and friends chipping in, and they all have their pros and cons –
The Bride or Groom’s Parents Pay
I hear the Igbo people take this very seriously, and the bride’s parents pay for the traditional wedding, while the white wedding is on the family of the groom.
The Pros –
You don’t have to dip into your savings to pay for the wedding, which means you would probably go on a more extravagant honeymoon or you’ll buy a better car or house, and still have some change to spare while you start your life as a married person.
The Cons –
It is only sensible to say that the person who pays ultimately gets what he or she wants. This means that if you want 100 guests but your parents want 250, you’ll probably end up with at least 175 to 200 people at your wedding. If your parents pay for the wedding, there will be a lot of family members from far and near, and you will hear a lot of “Don’t you remember me, I changed your diapers when you were 3 months old!” and “So when are we expecting our twins?” Having your parents pay for the wedding doesn’t hurt your wallet but you have to be willing to make a lot of compromises. Also, the parents may not tell you if they are cash-strapped, and your wedding could land them in huge debt.
A contemporary way of taking care of wedding expenses is for the two of you, the bride’s family, and the groom’s family to split the expenses. It could work in two ways: You could take the whole cost of the wedding and divide it in three ways or give each party a specific thing to pay for. If you can’t divide it equally — say one party is more or less wealthy than the other two — ask that party what’s comfortable for them to give, and throw it into the pot.
The Pros –
By pooling your resources, you may be able to afford the kind of wedding you want. You also may not have to empty your savings account to get it. What’s more, since everyone is contributing, everyone gets a say, and you’re not likely to make one side or the other feel left out.
The Cons –
By accepting money from other people, you give up some control and have to make some compromises on what the other party wants in the wedding. It could also lead to disagreements so if maybe the bride’s parents want a Calabar band to come play, the groom’s parents promised the Yoruba band that played at their wedding that they’ll play at their son’s wedding, and the couple just want a contemporary dj that will dole out recent music.
You Two Pay for Everything
This is becoming something of norm these days, as opposed to parents paying for the wedding. Many brides and grooms start saving individually for their wedding and stockpile all their bonuses and salaries so that they can foot the entire wedding bill and have the wedding of their dreams.
The Pros –
Money talks, and as such, you will have total control over all aspects of the wedding. If you want to get married in a bikini on the beach and dance to a reggae band at the reception, you do it. Your mom may think it’s an outrage, but in the end, she-who-does-not-open-her-wallet can’t dictate to you (for the most part). Some parents will still want to have a say, but the money gives you a leeway to put your foot down and say what you want at your wedding.
The Cons –
You might deplete your savings (and rack up some debt if you take a loan). You also run the risk of offending your parents if you refuse their financial help. To remedy the situation? You might accept a nominal sum from them, or let them pay for something you don’t have strong opinions about.
In any event, don’t shut your parents out of the wedding-planning process. Encourage their input — hey, they may even have a good idea or two — compromise where you can, and stick to your guns on the things that are really important.
Who do you think should handle the bulk of the cost of weddings?!
Header image – Collins Metu