By Phionah Nassanga
A wedding is one of the most important days of any couple’s lives and when the date is set it gets everyone excited.
What might not be as exciting is planning for them as it can sometimes feel overwhelming and stressful.
When he started his wedding meetings, John Bosco Lubega thought all would be a bed of roses. However, this was not the case. Much as Lubega kept sending messages to remind his friends and relatives of the meetings, not even a handful of them showed up for especially the last meetings.
“I started holding my meetings in December 2016 and they meant were to last for two months, the attendance for the first three meetings was really promising but by January 2017 getting people to respond was really hard,’’ Lubega says. He eventually had to change from sending general messages to calling each individual and meeting some in person as a lot had not been covered on the wedding budget. In his last meeting Lubega says he had about seven people attend. It goes to show that coordinating such can be quite tough.
Sylvia Tendo a wedding planner at Beautiful Smilez says many wedding meetings these days are packaged in a way that feels like the couple is just forcing money out of those that have committed to show up. This should not be the case.
“By the time one shows up to your wedding meeting, it means they have put aside a particular amount of money to contribute to the function and that is how much they can afford. But when you push it so hard on them, it will not be enticing for your friends and relatives to show up,” Tendo says.
“For the first two to three meetings people will turn up in big numbers but as the meetings go on you will realise the turn up is not positive,’’ she explains. So what can you do to ensure a good turn up and lively meetings are held?
It starts with you, the couple. Sophie Gombya a wedding planner says during these meetings couples are expected to appear together. Many however will only appear together twice and for the rest of the meetings, either the woman alone or the man will appear, forgetting that there are some people you invited who simply appear because they are friends with either of you. Your absence will demoralise them.
Avoid forcing money out of people
Gombya also says some tricks are embarrassing and should be avoided. Tricking people into paying more than they had planned for disappoints and discourages them from showing up the next time. Instead they opt to send mobile money yet these meetings are not meant just to collect money but to get people’s ideas as well.
Have worthy auctions
Tendo says people should stop wrapping the items that are to be cautioned. Find an item which you would happily spend on. Do not wrap a mango and auction it off at Shs300,000. Much as you are trying to raise and save money for the wedding, let the people feel they have spent their money well.
“The idea of an open auction with an item that is appealing to the eyes, will give a chance for many to contribute as each will wish to take something good back home,’’ she explains.
Away from the usual places where meetings are held such as restaurants, and gardens, look out for something unique that will attract people to attend. When the rest are holding meetings during the course of the week, choose to have yours over the weekend at one of the beaches. This will make it appealing for members to attend as many will associate it with having fun.
Another time, invite them over to your home and have lunch with them as the meeting goes on; it will give them a sense of belonging.
“Do not just sit back waiting for people to bring in money,” Gombya says. Let the attendees feel you are really involved and are doing the best you can to make them comfortable. For those that know how to bake, make some cookies, cakes or prepare juice for them. Give it all for free and do not sell; bring in comedians to perform, or artistes to sing,’’ Gombya advises, adding that this does not have to be a regular thing at the meetings but having it once in a while will keep people looking forward to the next one.
Create a friendly environment
Remember the people you are inviting are your friends but strangers to one another, so introducing each other every time you meet is quite important. During these meetings we encounter people from all walks of life and they could turn out to be friends at the end of the day, if we encourage them to interact.
“For example at the end of the meeting if some own cars kindly ask them to drop off those that do not have,’’ concludes Tendo.