Are wedding fundraising events simply a show-off?
Wedding planners get to see the good, bad and ugly of weddings. We often get the unenviable opportunity of giving couples their start to the best of their lives as a couple. But as the adage goes, ‘…most people miss opportunity because it comes dressed in clothes called work’.
We basically put in the work needed to make lovely what could quickly boil into a fiery and fury affair. Part of the hard-work sometimes involves fundraising on behalf of the wedding couples or at least attend the wedding fundraising events.
Whereas it has been a tradition especially in African society to fundraise for each other’s wedding- the famous large supportive families, this tradition is also slowly but surely becoming a contest for display of opulence or to settle family scores.
We were recently invited to a wedding meeting to assist the team that is organizing a wedding for a couple with pointers on how to pull-off a destination wedding that will be held at one of the numerous beaches in Uganda in June. The couple (a Muganda man and a Mutooro woman) currently resides in the United States and are both planning to jet-in to celebrate their wedding with their ancestral family here in Uganda.
The meeting was going all so well as we ticked off item by item on the wedding checklist we had helped develop. Most of the payments for the items had already been cleared and deposits to the suppliers had been made for the rest.
However, when it came to the wedding cake, the team leader mentioned that the cake supplier had asked for an extra Sh. 600,000 and the décor required an extra 1.5 million for which the rest had to mobilize themselves to meet. One of the team members was fast to react, ‘…You rejected my suggestion that was equally good and cheaper, now you are weighing us down with the burden to foot extra bills to an already expensive wedding. We have done our part…’ The others burst out in her support, some suggesting that the team leader spoke so casually about such money because she was well off. Others even went as far as pointing out that only her was a beneficiary of the support the brother (groom to be) has passed down to the family over the years. In their view, he had basically neglected the rest of them. This continued for another ten to fifteen minutes in which we begged to excuse ourselves.
I know you must be giggling away as you read about this family drama but wedding fundraising events all over don’t get any less dramatic, they get so hectic that some people are urging to bring back the fun in them . There was another in which the chief fundraiser permitted whoever contributed some cash to make a request of any other person in the meeting (who doesn’t match the amount contributed) to act, as the contributer willed . It was all fun and mirth until one contributer asked the groom-to-be to kneel before his fiancée and hold her bag till the end of the meeting. At first, everyone giggled and laughed, then eyes rolled, then lips whispered. Suddenly the room hushed into silence. It got tense and uncomfortable when it became clear the groom couldn’t counter the contribution. Had it not been for a generous uncle, the evening mood had been lost.
We cannot leave this topic without talking about the famous or is it infamous gift auction that is conducted in many Ugandan wedding fundraising meetings. A gift for auctioning at each meeting is usually delicately wrapped and strategically placed where all attendees can see it. Different fundraisers have different strategies but one that usually catches attendees unawares is where it’s passed around for everyone ‘to feel’. After doing its rounds, it gets back to the auctioneer who then declares what amount those who ‘felt it’ should pay and those who didn’t too. The idea is really to have a fun way of fundraising but it can get ugly, especially when attendees don’t seem responsive.
Here the auctioneer is forced to bring out all tricks ever learned about auctioning. For example, we attended a meeting where the auctioneer asked (and paid for) one famous celebrity who was in attendance to walk around with him holding the gift. Apparently, he could not hold and auction the gift at the same time. The auctioneer naively hoped and wanted the celebrity to respond with cash.
Needless to say, this did not augur well with the celebrity, it seemed like an attack on ‘her image’ and she stormed out cussing and spewing regrets for ever having considered coming for the meeting in. Again, a rich and generous soul had to intervene to save the day.
One can say, the fundraisings are designed to bring the families together, have some fun and also plan the wedding together, but haven’t we all gone for a fundraising where we are so broke that each time the auctioneer passed by, you turned the other way?
And at the same time, every time a generous giver raised their hand somewhere, they sounded like a showy or a phony?
Share with us your experience about fundraising in the comment section below.
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