I thought that we were like a select few people that were to come together and do all the planning, arranging, and fundraising for the wedding. I really got excited. Secretly, I want to be a wedding planner in Kenya. Yes, that is my secret desire.
However, it wasn't at all what I expected.
First of all, they had asked 100 people to be on the committee. Yes, 100. And they counted Kelvin and I (together) as only 1 of the 100.
Second, they had pretty much planned every detail already and had a pretty thorough budget laid out.
Third, as a part of the committee, you are expected to give towards the wedding fund. When you agree to be a member, you agree to giving a set amount that every member is to pay. I knew that we were going to be asked to give and I actually already had a figure in mind that I wanted to give, but I didn't know that it would be required that we give a set amount.
So really, they just brought us together to pray, sing, and talk about giving. We 'discussed' the budget but the budget was already pretty much set so there wasn't really much to comment on. The committee has a chairman, treasurer and secretary. They handed us all out minutes from last meeting (which we weren't even invited to) and a budget. At every meeting we are expected to give to the "Chairman's Kitty" to help with the expenses the chairman will have as the chairman.
My thoughts were pretty mixed after leaving this meeting.
I am usually pretty quick to criticize and think of ways things could be better, but I really sat and thought about this. These were some things I liked about this:
- How communal it is and how every one comes together to support this couple. Although it seemed like they just want money, I know that they really appreciate us just being there for them, praying with them, and being involved. It's like the marriage is not just for them; there are a lot of other people involved. It's kind of nice.
- Weddings in Kenya are expensive (well, weddings everywhere are) but they seem much more out of reach for the average Kenyan. I am told that even the family members are expected to contribute (which is how our weddings happen) but even with the family contributing, it usually is not nearly enough to cover the costs. So its nice to see friends, churches and other groups come together to contribute.
- I guess all the different people could bring in a lot of good input so you could have some good ideas. But it also means that there will be a lot of going around in circles.
Somethings I didn't like:
- There were a few items on the budget that I thought were a little bit ridiculous. If they had to pay for their own wedding, I am sure they would cut out some of these things. But because others are paying for it, they are doing it.
- That everyone is expected to give a certain amount. Thankfully, Kelvin and I are in a position to give what they asked for (actually we had purposed to give more and probably will) but I would imagine that for many of the people, to come up with that money is not easy. Then, if they can't come up with the money, the members make little cards and go ask their family and friends to 'sponsor' them to 'contribute' to the wedding. Did you follow that? Yah, not so sure I like that. It is like borderline begging.
- That the members were pretty much responsible to raise ALL the money for the wedding. The groom is usually expected to personally provide for the outfits (the wedding dress, shoes, earrings, make up, hair, tux, etc) but, in my opinion, they have to contribute a little more to their own wedding and not expect everyone else to pay for it. This particular couple has been together almost 10 years. You would think that at some point, they would start saving for their wedding. No? I am not judging. They may have money that they can contribute. But as I chatted with some others about it, it is common for couples to expect the committee to give all the money and they just sit back and get a free wedding.
- I am selfish. And I think I have good ideas. I would have loved to be apart of the planning process and not just be expected to give and give input that is not particularly needed. But that is my own selfishness.
I am really thankful that we didn't have to do this. We managed to pay for our wedding with contributions from both of our families and with our own personal funds. We didn't have a ton of money so we compromised on some things. In the end, we got married and that was the goal of the day.
All in all, it was a good experience. Ultimately we are there to support our friend. This friend played a HUGE part in our wedding. We couldn't have done it without him. So we are willing to do pretty much anything to help them out. Looking forward to another celebration!!!!