I have never been excited by the prospect of a large wedding. I’d prefer a slow and calm moment. Mainly because the logistics of a traditional wedding (especially a large one) sounds overwhelming, with couples pressured by an unending cycle of catering to the needs and emotions of other people (all while looking graceful in your pictures). To avoid that, an elopement-style wedding is appealing. But there is a huge caveat preventing some Black couples from successfully eloping: it is not cultural.
Weddings are ubiquitous for most members of African communities, at home or across the diaspora, and there are expectations for wedding ceremonies to be a lavish event — one that also upholds generations of customs (religious, cultural, western or otherwise) and traditions. Moreover, in certain cultures, a wedding may last many days and involve traditional rites and the exchange of gifts. With both invited and uninvited guests present, the food and drink feast applies to all traditions. And as a result, the costs add up.
The wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. CNN reported in 2017 that a “Nigerian wedding can cost up to $9,460 - $13,515 with ‘guest lists matching the super-sized budgets.’ They added that some weddings in the country cater for an average of 1,000 guests.
Many couples are choosing to elope as result — 62% of US-based couples are open to considering a scaled-back elopement style wedding according to a recent survey. Yet, while many would like to elope to avoid extravagance or a large wedding, some find it hard to stand up against the culture and do something different. And those that do sometimes encounter mild to severe opposition from friends and family.
Elopement-style weddings are obviously not for everyone. It's entirely acceptable for some couples to enjoy the splendour and spectacle of a large traditional wedding. Ultimately, the decision to elope or not should be based on what feels suitable for the individual couple.
Unbothered spoke to three brides who eloped with their partners about their decision and how it impacted their relationships.