From 400 to 15 and now 100, the wedding guest list dilemma in the time of Corona
By Kwame Akinyi
Weddings are always a great way to celebrate two people who love each other becoming one.
I got to chat with a friend,Grace Mwangi who is engaged about her upcoming wedding. She gladly takes us through the whole planning process, the highs the lows, the joys and disappointments.
Tell us about the wedding planning process?
The planning process is going on well, I am very excited. However, there is a lot on the bride side since she does most of the planning while the groom helps in terms of approval.Personally as the bride I have taken the lead of the planning process i.e. I have to know how our parents will be dressed on that day, How the bride’s maids and groom’s men will be dressed, the décor, the cake, I mean I have to be at the centre of everything. Also for the entire process we need to keep a close eye on everything given its just one day in a lifetime and so you want it to be perfect.
How were you able to select the date especially with the current pandemic?
Interestingly, we had already decided on the date when we started dating. We knew that by 2020 we would behaving our wedding. Personally, I already knew the year I want to get married and luckily my partner was thinking of the same year and so we decided on 2020.But now we had to settle on a specific date so when this year came, we first selected the last Saturday of November. However, I have two sisters who are expecting in late October and we wanted them to be part of the wedding and so we decided to push it back to early October hence settling for 10th October.
As for the pandemic, while we were selecting the dates, there was no Covid-19, it caught up with us after settling on the date. And despite Covid-19 we decided not to change the dates whether it was just me, my groom, our parents, and the pastor during the ceremony given the new rules on public gatherings.
How did you choose the guest list given the strict government rules on public gatherings?
Honestly this has been the most challenging part because we have big families and a lot of friends so initially we were planning on inviting about 400 guests because we wanted our families and friends to celebrate with us. Then Covid-19 happened and that was a big blow to us cause now we had to narrow down the numbers and it was not even half our guest list. So when the government set the restriction to 15 people, it was to be the couple, our parents, the best couple, and maybe one or two relatives. But when they increased the number to 100 we were able to adjust the list and with that we had to give a priority to relatives as for our friend groups like from work we settled on selecting representatives.
Have the suppliers changed their rates and services due to Covid-19?
Most of our service providers are our friends. I can give an example with our videographer. Before Covid-19 his initial charges ranged from around 80k-100k but now he had to reduce to 70k. As for us we chose the 70k package given our budget but since he is a friend he gave us a discount. So I would say for some them it has gone down for others not really. As for the other service providers i.e. catering and cake they have given me friendly rates. We decided to go for our friends who are experts in those various fields so as to promote them and also get favorable packages.
What inspired you to choose the venue?
Cost friendly, my background as well as the location. The venue we chose we got it at a good price.Secondly, we are doing a church wedding and we found a church that has a good reception area. My background is Anglican we opted for an Anglican church.Actually it was a special request from my mom and we decided to honor it. Also,the reception area is such a beautiful place too.
What you would have done different if it weren’t for the pandemic?
If it weren’t for the pandemic we would have wanted to celebrate with so many of our family and friends.
Another thing is the curfew,we would have loved to host our guests till late into the evening but given the curfew we need to release our guests early so as not to inconvenience them.Those are the main things we would have loved to do differently.
For our ruracio we had to do it with only 15 people yet that’s another celebration I would have loved to have celebrate with a lot of people. Actually I have realized that I like inviting people to celebrate with me when I am celebrating something but now because of the restrictions we had to do it with a small group.
Also there are those traditionally steps that we have to follow i.e. the guy has to come and know the lady’s home and the lady goes on the other side and so we ended up skipping some because they involved a lot of travelling and with Covid-19 it was not possible. While some we ended up compiling it into one visit.
Have you experienced any other challenges during this planning process so far?
Yeah. Resource mobilization.Unfortunately, some of our friends have lost their jobs while some are on half pay due to the current situation, the pandemic. So it’s a bit challenging because one is not getting the support they would have wanted to get though it’s a situation that you understand.
Another thing, we would have wanted to have physical meetings with friends and families to keep them updated with the wedding plans but now we have to rely on WhatsApp or rather the online meetings. Which is very effective currently, but there are also those people who are not so much into social media and so they feel left out. Actually many a times you call a relative to update them and they feel offended cause you are not involving them in the wedding plans but in real sense some of them are not really not tech savvy. And sometimes people might not end up picking or joining the online meetings.
And the positives?
I think the positives have been: Great support from both families. They have been supportive every step of the way. Also our close close friends and our planning committee have been very supportive.
Also, the budget. The budge would have been so tight with our initial number of guest lists but since we are working with around 150 guests there has been a reduction in the budget which is a good thing.
Another thing, for the physical meetings one has to hire a venue, transport and catering services and that would have incurred some costs so right now the costs people are incurring are just bundles for the online meetings.
Your take away?
I have come to realize that a wedding is a good thing and planning for it is quite interesting whether there is a pandemic or not, eventually it still happens. And I have come to appreciate that the wedding is actually you, the groom, the best couple, the parents, rings and someone to officiate it, if those are there it would still happen.
I have also learnt that when you plan for it with your partner you get to know them more, how they react to pressure, how they react when frustrated, it’s just a good thing to learn the other person during such processes. And be more innovative during a crisis.
Also people can actually livestream the ceremony via social media. Who knew people would be doing online weddings? I just post a link and you watch it from wherever they are.