Jediel is stretched out on his couch. His cup of coffee is getting cold, but coffee is the last thing on his mind. He sighs and rubs his temples. He has done that several times already. He and his fiancée, Doreen, have been making tentative plans for their wedding, and that is stressing him.
He has dodged this wedding business for two years now, but he has run out of excuses. Besides, his relationship with Doreen was becoming strained. She was accusing him of not being committed. He loves the girl, that is not in doubt. They have dated for five years now. His major worry has been the finances for a wedding. This has been confirmed. Their budget is running up to Kshs. 700k, excluding dowry.
Money he does not have.
Both he and Doreen graduated two years ago with Bachelor of Commerce degrees from the University of Nairobi. Doreen had wanted marriage immediately, but Jediel held off. He argued that since they had not yet found a financial footing, they needed to establish themselves first. Doreen was jobless for nine months, before finally getting a job as an accountant at an IT firm. Jediel opened a restaurant immediately after their graduation with savings from his HELB Loan and part-time jobs he had been doing while in campus.
The restaurant is doing well. But not well enough to support a 700k wedding.
Jediel sighs again, heaves himself out of the sofa and strolls to the bedroom to find a painkiller. He swallows two tablets of Paracetamol with water and goes about warming his coffee. Doreen’s elder sister got married five years ago. Her husband was asked to pay two million shillings as dowry. They negotiated it down and paid 300k. Jediel does not expect anything less from Doreen’s people.
300k +700k=1 million. For a wedding. If he spends that kind of money, he might as well shut down the restaurant.
Jediel opens the coffee can and pours more coffee pellets into the coffee he is warming. He needs something very strong. Fundraising is an option. But he doesn’t like that option. The idea of badgering people to pay so that he can hold a lavish wedding does not appeal to him. Besides, whether he can raise 700k is doubtful. Yet he still needs 300k for the dowry, assuming the figure does not go up.
The other option is to do a small wedding. But what will his friends, Doreen’s friends and both sets of families say? A wedding usually has stakeholders. And being an increasingly respectable businessman in the society, he has a reputation to protect by keeping the standards that have been set by people at his level who have gone before him.
He is so lost in thought that he does not hear Doreen entering the apartment.
“That coffee is too strong sweetheart. It will kill you. Besides, it is already boiling. Why don’t you turn off the cooker?”
Then she sees the paracetamol wrapper and looks at him questioningly.
“It’s the wedding stressing you, isn’t? I have a plan. Pour that poison in the sink and make proper coffee as I tell you all about it,”
“A plan?” Jediel asks once he gets over the surprise of his fiancée’s unannounced entry. She smiles at him, pours his coffee in the sink and makes fresh coffee.
“What if we combine the church wedding and the traditional wedding? Why do Africans do two weddings anyway?”
Jediel was now alert.
“Good idea. But pastor will hear none of it. Neither will our parents. There are stakeholders to a wedding you know,”
“The only stakeholders to this wedding are you and me. We are the only ones stressing over money. Anybody who wants a stake in it should pay for it. About parents, my parents are game. I already talked to them.”
“You what! Why would you do that behind my back? What will they think of me?”
“You worry too much about what people think Jediel. We don’t have money, and that is a fact. I am just trying to help the situation, just as I know you have been doing. So what do you think of my plan?”
“What did your father say?”
“He will take 250k. 150k as the dowry goats and whatever else tradition demands, 100k to feed the people. Our rural church will give us its field for free, plus seats. But you need to persuade your people to provide tents,”
“So how will the event flow?”
“Your people come for the first visit. My people will share with your people the plan. Once that is agreed, it means that negotiations on the main day will be just a formality. They can be dispensed with within thirty minutes in the morning. We will move to the church and exchange vows at around mid morning. Pastor says that session will take about an hour. Then we can go to have lunch in the church compound,”
“Are you wearing a gown?”
“It is an African wedding. I do not want a gown. I will be okay with kitenge,”
“That is so simple. Is that all we need?”
“Yes, pretty much. We can find a photographer that we can afford to capture the moments, but that is pretty much it,”
“Will 100k be enough to feed people?”
“Yes. Mum says it is enough for about four hundred people. We will just prepare a simple menu,”
“How did you get your parents to agree to this incredibly brilliant plan?”
“I may have used slightly unorthodox methods,”
“I may have mentioned over dinner that we were considering going to the Attorney General’s chambers to tie the knot because of financial stress. My alarmed mother would hear none of it. So I gently asked her to sponsor the white wedding. She turned to her husband who said he has no money. So I tabled my plan. It was accepted as a compromise, although after much persuasion. My parents would rather die than have their child married without the church’s involvement,”
“So you blackmailed your parents.”
“I wouldn’t use those words. I prefer to say I made them see sense,”
“Out of curiosity, were you serious about going to the AG?” Jediel asked.
“Yes. Before this idea came to me, I had convinced myself that the AG was the route to go. I even suggested it to you but you brushed me aside. But I think the most important thing is that we get married. How we conduct the ceremony to me is not that important. So anyway, you haven’t answered my question: do you like my plan?”
“Of course! It is brilliant!”
“Will your parents agree to it?”
“I will persuade them…sorry, I will make them see sense. If they insist on another ceremony then they will pay for it. After all, like you said, the only stakeholders in this wedding are you and me.”
“Can you afford the 150k for the dowry?”
“Yes. I will find the 250k. I have 200k set aside for the wedding. I just need to find the 50k”
“Don’t you worry sweetheart. I have saved 100k which will I use to pay for the food. You pay the 150k. We can use your 50k for our clothes and miscellaneous expenses. Now you can throw away the painkillers,”
“You are a special woman Doreen. Do you know that?”
“I know,” she says and they both burst out laughing.
“On second thoughts, I withdraw the compliment,” Jediel says, his eyes dancing playfully.
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/wedding-wedding-date-wedding-rings-829140/
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