By Luso Mnthali (@lkmnthali)
Luso says the social conditioning (be it the ubiquitous Wedding Shows or the family questioning you “Kanti U Shada Nini?”) make the urge to plan a wedding natural. But, she says, this does lead to a lot of “over-romanticising of relationships” and she often finds herself having to remind friends of the divorce rate, of the struggles of their friends and other people they know who are in real relationships.
This article was originally posted on Afripop here.
So I keep seeing women planning their weddings. That’s normal, it’s wedding season in South Africa. But what I don’t get is those ones who have planned their wedding down to the last bit of minutiae – when they are not engaged, or even have a significant other in their lives. Confession – I’ve been guilty of something similar as well, in the past. Especially when it comes to music. I laugh at the thought of wanting the Ice Prince song “Oleku” to be on the playlist at this wedding that is to take place at some point in the future but I don’t know when and where. Why? What made me think this way? And that song? What’s it got to do with anything? Jeez.
So I’m going to be very gentle here, because how I handle my sisters in the unmarried struggle would be how I want someone to treat my own situation. Delicate and nice, but strong with a good dose of common sense. I understand when Cuffing Season starts and single women talk incessantly with their friends about not having a man. I know it’s happened to some of y’all. You might have hooked up seasonally, and when the sunshine and warmth comes back y’all are good – sort of. But this thing of saying, during what we call Dezemba here in Southern Africa, that you’re planning a wedding down to the last detail – I don’t understand.
Why are you planning a wedding before you’ve found your significant other? My friend Lufuno even questioned why she did this. She posted the following on Facebook (reproduced here with permission of course):
“The problem with being single, when you are bored you start planning your wedding day. I’ve got mine planned to the T, the dress, the cake, the decor etc….BUT I don’t even have a boyfriend…so depressing.”
Soon the laughter and the questions ensued. Then someone said something interesting, which was that she was “moving in faith” and this was a spiritual term. She was then advised by this person to go ahead and plan, and even get quotes of how much everything would cost. I laughed. But then something in me stopped to listen, and listen good. If you don’t declare your intentions to the Universe, to God or whatever and whomever you believe in, how will they know what it is you want? And down to the last T could be a good thing. I used to say I wanted tall, dark and handsome – well, I got tall, dark and handsome but those relationships never lasted. I decided I had to be even more specific and when I found the right person, I would know. Do I still like tall, dark and handsome? You betcha! But I’m more specific about his inner life, than his outer appearance.
I’m going to be Mrs Obvious and say that being very detailed and specific about what you want at your wedding should also carry over to other aspects of love – what you want in your mate, what kind of relationship you want. (please dear Universe do NOT send me someone called Brighton Obvious who I fall trulymadlydeeply with. This is just an opinion piece not a request. Please.)
People spend so much time worrying about the details of a wedding, making sure it’s “perfect” – and many times it doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Sometimes it’s even better, because they’re living within the parameters of what they hoped for but life is still there, adding spice to the dish you’re trying to make and present to the world. If you’ve found the right person, this should be a beautiful day, no matter what. More time should be spent on getting to know your person, and before you even meet, having that criteria in place. Planning the event before finding your soulmate or significant other or lover for life or whatever you call them – leaves out a whole chunk of detail that’s quite important. But I also sort of get it. It’s anticipation due to social conditioning.
Being single shouldn’t be about obsessing about each and every variable – it should be about being honest and going for what you want. A time to find and love yourself, and prepare for that time you won’t be single. So you need to enjoy it. I know, my single friends will be rolling their eyes reading this. For the most part they enjoy their lives but want someone to share it with them. That’s natural. But in some cases I’ve seen such over-romanticising of relationships and have to remind them of the divorce rate, of the struggles of their friends and other people they know who are in real relationships. Their eyes still glaze over, dreamily. I sigh, wanting to knock sense and reality back into them.
I think my friend Lufuno knows what she wants. I enjoy her solo travel stories (most recently to Paris) and today she made me laugh with her cheeky status. While some of us have “it’s complicated” or “single” as our relationship status, I think our life status shouldn’t be dictated by having or not having a significant other in our lives. Yes, watch that wedding show now and again – it’s funny. Or hop on over to Munaluchi Bridal to see loveliness and two well-dressed people officially joining their lives. But as single gals, it can’t be a thing you obsess about. Go out and enjoy your lives.
Many of you already are. You’re climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, travelling through Europe, teaching yoga, skateboarding, being awesome, pursuing each and every thing your heart desires. Attention to that, and the details of that – are absolutely the most enchanting thing about you. Your relationship with yourself before anyone else? Absolutely the most priceless and valuable love story you have to share with the world, and anyone else who wants to bask in your love. I will read these very words as well, and take my own advice. I also need it. And I hope you keep it in mind, whether planning a wedding, or not.
About Luso Mnthali: Born in Malawi, grew up in Gaborone, Botswana. Called the US home for a decade, currently live in Cape Town, South Africa. Books and travel, arts and culture addict.