Marriage in Nigeria is more than two people in love preparing to spend their lives together. It is more than just taking vows and bonding with friends and family. It is a big social gathering, one you can liken to preparing to host the world cup or an annual convention. Everyone is involved; Oluwa, the church, the choir, friends, neighbors, distant relatives, exes and everyone again. We are all in this together and as they say, it is your marriage but their wedding. A reception party, usually lavish is also meticulously planned, months in advance, and a huge percentage of the wedding budget goes into this. But this mostly comes at the end. Let’s start from the top, before getting to the bottom.
Reporting Live from Instagram: In recent times, this is how it begins A picture of a young man, draped in well-ironed suit, who has bent the knee and a ‘surprised’ lady with hands clasped over her mouth or face, depending on the intensity of the surprise, goes viral on Instagram and then other platforms. Of course, there are always phone photographers available to capture these ‘surprise’ moments for free. This falls under the category of the pre-pre wedding photoshoot. There’s more to come. Nikon cameras will take the place of iPhones and Infinix Hot notes. Wait for it.
The Introduction: This is the part where the groom officially meets the bride’s parents, and in most cultures, gets presented with the ultimate list of things to bring along the bride price. Most of these lists have ridiculous items on them but bae cannot complain. This is the most discrete part of the lineup of ceremonies as a lot goes wrong within this period and probably gets fixed. Both families disagree and agree and eventually settle on the common ground.
The Pre-Wedding Shoot: This is also part of the ceremony, it is where we are asked to save the date. Our timelines are flooded with really cute photos. We ‘awwwww’ and share on our profiles and say congratulations and get jealous. A chunk of the budget goes to this ceremony as well but it is a huge improvement from the Instagram stunt.
The Over Priced Aso-Ebi: What is a Nigerian Wedding without aso-ebi? And Asoebi that is not ridiculously expensive, is that one aso-ebi? I can guess you know the answer. Moreover, after saving the date, this is where we actively participate. Who wants to be the black sheep on that day, wearing sky blue when everybody else is on royal purple and golden silver? We empty our accounts, slay, and appear cute in the photos.
Should we talk about the crazy shopping sprees, the money extraction venture called ‘committee of friends’, the church counselling sessions for Christians, the recently evolving bridal showers and other in-betweens? No, time and space will not allow. Let’s jump to the meat of the matter.
Let’s All Say I Do: It is a tradition that the bride arrives late. Whatever happens, she has to arrive late to the venue. The groom and everybody else has to wait. It’s going to be a long service, I sure you know that already. The sermon will focus mainly on telling the woman all the dos and don’ts of living in a husband’s house. You may even be tempted to assume it is another counselling session for the woman but I’m sure you know that too. The vows are said, nobody has any impediment why the two should not be joined together in wedlock, no bitter exes to crash the wedding, no bride fainting at the altar. They both say I do and we all scream our oohs and aahs as they take their ‘first kiss’.
It’s Jollof Time people!
Finally my brethren, what is a Nigerian gathering without jollof rice? What is a wedding party without jollof rice? I believe you know the answer to this one as well. This is the apex of the big day, the reception, where we all get to dance, eat jollof and probably meet our own spouses. Amen?
There’s a huge, multiple tiered cake in it’s own hut, as if celebrating it’s own wedding. The bride and groom will cut and feed themselves and we all know we won’t get to taste it eventually but who cares? We are more concerned about the jollof rice getting to us. It’s all about the jollof. And if it doesn’t get to us, we fight for it. We argue with the caterers, exchange blows sometimes and take what is rightfully ours.
You think something is missing? Do tell us about your Nigerian wedding experience and make sure you saly and eat Jollof at that wedding this Saturday.