As a nation, we have an obsession with weddings, and it’s been getting deeper and deeper as time goes on. Regardless of your tribe, it’s one thing that definitely unites us. Yet our dedication to throw the most lavish and ostentatious of weddings is getting out of hand. We’ve reached the stage where the pressure to get married no longer stems solely from our parents or other members of our family, but also from social media.
With wedding hashtags, Instagram accounts that purely serve the Nigerian wedding season, and wedding trailers on YouTube, the pressure to get married on today’s youth is coming through thick and fast. Platforms such as BellaNaija have become synonymous with the Nigerian wedding industry and boasts 1.7 million Instagram followers. As every moment is now documented on social media from multiple angles, you’ll feel as though you’ve attended ten weddings by the time you’ve finished scrolling through your Instagram feed.
But it’s not just the social media affair of weddings that concerns me, but also the flamboyant events that seem to have no limit. From the bridal showers to cocktail events, the Nigerian wedding scene is a million-dollar industry. Weddings can cost anywhere between five and 100 million Naira, depending on your budget and social status. But is the obscene amount of money worth it? Could that cash not be better spent elsewhere – on a home perhaps?
We live in a society that’s constantly trying to keep with the Joneses. Parents don’t want to seem like they can’t afford the lavish events, and the couple want to match the weddings they’ve seen shared on Instagram. Even in the Muslim community, we seem to have forgotten how our weddings are meant to be conducted. Islamic weddings are meant to be simple and affordable, yet they are often quite the contrary these days. Sadly, so much emphasis is placed on having these grand weddings for everybody to see, and not so much about having a long and fruitful marriage.
With the rising divorce rate in our society, it seems unwise to focus on all these illusions of grandeur, all for the sake of having a huge BellaNaija worthy wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the traditional elements of our weddings: decorating my hands and feet with lalle, bargaining the bride price at the kamu, and the general coming together to celebrate the union of two special people. I love it all. However, we should focus less on pleasing every aunty, uncle and that random friend of our grandmother’s we’ve never met. Instead our elders should be giving us the necessary advice on how to choose the right spouse and how to have a long-lasting marriage. Afterall, our society and cultures place so much emphasis on marriage for women that it’s important we get it right.
For all the romantics out there, seeing all this love and joy on the timeline is heartwarming. Personally, I have attended a wedding where I didn’t know the bride or groom, and just accompanied my cousin as a plus one. The ability to attend this wedding so freely despite having no connection to the couple is something I fear for my own big day in the future. I’m a lover of smaller, more intimate gatherings which Nigerian weddings, for the most part, are not and I don’t wish to look out to a sea of unknown faces. The idea of being the centre of attention also feels quite overwhelming.
I know it’s in our blood as Nigerians to be showy and extravagant. It’s a part of us whether we like it or not. But I just think we need to be more intentional about how we choose to celebrate our marriages. Yes, everyone is entitled to get married how they wish and to celebrate that momentous occasion in the manner of their choice. I just think it would be better to marry within your means, and to focus more on the future of your marriage and building towards that alongside your wedding plans. In a few years’ time, most of your wedding guests won’t really remember your wedding that well. Even your own memories will fade over time. So, it’s important to think wisely and to seek out the best advice as you embark on this momentous journey.