We all love good news. We all love to hear about the upcoming nuptials of a close friend, colleague, sister, brother or cousin. Long before the day arrives to walk down the aisle, many are quick to enquire about the décor, what the bride and groom will be wearing, venue and all the other little things that complete a wedding.
Even the would-be bride will be lying awake the day that her future husband informs her that they should take their releationship to the next level. She will be dreaming about what sort of white dress she will be wearing, cake, the décor in her tent, and the type of music that will be played as well as the people that she will invite.
What many including the happy couple always forget to note is the fact that a wedding (the ceremony), is just a thing that will pass and be forgotten the next day. Putting together a wedding is not easy as some would like to believe. It comes with a mountain of costs, headaches, sulking couples and parents, as well as a bit of patience especially on the part of the couple when it comes to dealing with their families.
The recent Phakalane Golf Estate Wedding Expo gave a clear picture on the high cost of weddings. The big question is what is it about a wedding that makes it this expensive? Many claim to be experts on how to organise and put together a memorable wedding. Take for example some weddings that have appeared on the popular show, Our Perfect Wedding airing every Sunday night on Mzansi Magic.
They are a clear indication that putting together a wedding is no easy feat. With social media always going crazy, most viewers always have something to say about how they would do this and that, tearing apart the whole wedding and forgetting that until the day of the wedding most bridal couples are under immense pressure.
In previous episodes some couples have been seen running around, going as far as seeking financial assistance from loan sharks in order to clear debts with their designers, beauticians and transporters. In a recent episode, one groom was a no show, and it would later emerge that he did not pay the venue that was hosting their wedding.
These are just illustrations that a few couples even know what they are doing when it comes to organising for their special day. On our local shores, a traditional wedding in Botswana that has highlights such as patlo, magadi, go isa mafoko, endless family meetings and all the traditional rituals always means that long before the big day, the groom and the bride have endured sleepless nights pondering and wondering whether they will be able to meet the costs.
The fact that in some instances, parents who follow strict traditional practices are unrelenting in how they wish things to pan out often means that the stress levels for the couple skyrockets, with some almost wishing that they could elope and just get over and done with the whole thing.
A snap survey conducted in and around Gaborone has indicated that a majority of couples spend a big chunk of their hard-earned cash on renting a tent alone. Prices for the tent are influenced by location, and most tent and décor providers in Gaborone are charging almost double what service providers outside the city would charge.
For example, an affordable service provider in Kanye charges around P11000 for a quotation of 250 people, which includes P1, 800 a marquee, P1500 for a draping, P2000 for a carpet, P625 for plastic chairs, P250 for a red carpet, and P1, 250 for chair covers.
A service provider in Gaborone charges around P40000 for one day. This figure is inclusive of a tent that costs around P15 000 for a 300 seater tent, P7000 for 300 tiffany chairs, P7000 for flowers and crockery, cutlery and glassware totalling P5000.
Although most of the budgeted money go to these services they exclude a wedding dress that costs around P4500, a two-tier cake that ranges at around P3000, a groom’s suit at around P3500, rings for both the groom and bride totalling P10000, and many other expenses including food.
Boingotlo Motlalekgosi who owns Bridal Empire Co explains that weddings in Botswana fall into three categories of class namely low income, middle and high class. A low-income couple will spend around P30 000 for tent and catering. The middle-income group, she says spends more money, with most couples spending between P150 000 to P300 000.00 for the celebration and other expenses.
“This is the group that spends a lot of money, even more than the high-income group,” she says. According to her, the high-income is cautious about how they spend their money and will spend around P70 000 for everything. Most of these couples prefer to hold their nuptials at a hotel, and they can cut costs. She says that the weddings that are mostly celebrated at home are normally the most costly.
Long before the wedding, a couple has already spent money on food and petrol for the meetings, as well as other small expense, she explained. “A lot of money is wasted at weddings that are held at home,” she notes.
Motlalekgosi says that this is normally the time when family members relocate to the bride/grooms home where a cow will be slaughtered and food bought thereby hiking what a couple would naturally spend. “All these hidden costs contribute to how much a couple would eventually spend,” she says.
Another thing that some Batswana don’t realise is the fact that the trick to spending less money lies on budgeting. “We don’t budget and cater for all these hidden costs,” she says. She cautions those who intend to wed, to know the type of wedding that they want, and that they need to be clear with their parents.
Motlalekgosi says that couples should be forthcoming with information of how much money they are going to spend, instead of bending to the pressure of their parents and family and getting into unnecessary debts. “They should put their foot down,” she says adding that transparency will work wonders for them.
She also calls on couples to avoid pleasing people and keeping up appearances if they don’t have money. According to Joy Tladi, the Managing Director of Joyful Catering & Events it is important for couples to be sure about the type of wedding that they want long before a date is set. She says that a common misconception that some couples have is trying to accommodate a lot of people, for example getting a tent that can accommodate 300 people instead of going for a 200 seater tent.
She says that other couples make the mistake of saying that they are not doing anything big, and yet they will spend the same amount of money that they would spend if they had a big celebration. “If it is patlo for 50 people, let it be patlo for that number. You don’t need to have flowers and all these things that will raise the budget. Get a small tent, and don’t invite the whole village as if it’s a wedding,” she advises, noting that patlo is normally held in the morning meaning that there is no need for lunch.
One bride who prefered anonymity explains that she spent close to P85000 for everything including magadi, and all the items that the groom has to buy for his in-laws, the reception that cost around P10 000 at a hotel for 120 people. She says that they spent most of the money during the time when the bride was welcomed by her in-laws, as they had to get a tent, décor, catering and other expenses.
“We had wanted a small thing, but it wasn’t the case that Sunday,” she says. She adds that the assistance of family members also went a long way in meeting them halfway. “I was very clear about what I wanted, and I was not prepared to do what family wanted. It was my wedding day after all,” she says.