My sister has been married for almost two months and I still haven’t written about the engagement and wedding! I’ll start with the engagement today.
We were staying in Akure and the wedding was in Ondo, so the original plan was to stay in a hotel in Ondo for a few days. But then family friends connected us with their relative who had a home in Ondo that she wasn’t using so we ended up renting that place instead. We arrived on a Thursday, the day before the engagement, and I think we spent the first hour of our stay running around and exclaiming over how lovely everything was. The house (or shall we say villa?) had an enormous generator that powered the many (too many?) air conditioners—we were in heaven!
While we were busy chilling (literally and figuratively) in the villa, our parents were with other family members at the food preparation site. They were planning to stay there all night, to supervise the caterer and his crew I think. I don’t know if most people do this but I remember we did the same thing before my cousin’s wedding in 2008 (where by “we”, I mean my mom!). I guess it’s a time for the family to bond too. Our job was to get ready for the engagement the next day and take care of some last minute things (such as trying to remove the dirt stains the seamstress had left on the wedding gown while she was making some final adjustments—grr!). My sister hadn’t done her hair yet (she was putting in a weave) so this was a concern, since we couldn’t reach the person that was supposed to be doing her hair and neither of us know anything about putting in a weave. Thankfully my sister was wearing a gele (headtie) for the engagement so she could do the weave as late as the following day, which would give us time to find someone to do her hair.
Although the house we stayed in was lovely, the big disadvantage was its location – it was on the outskirts of town; taxis didn’t even go there. Also cell phone reception was not good there and most calls we made didn’t go through. And since the house wasn’t in use when we got there, there was no food around, which is dangerous since both my siblings get really cranky when they’re hungry (so does my mom!). Even though we had two phones between the three of us we had almost no credit left—we were used to being able to buy credit anywhere but not in this neighbourhood! We were disorganized. Thankfully our parents remembered that we had no food and they brought us dinner later on.
The wedding rehearsal was scheduled for Friday at 10:00am and the engagement was at 1:00pm. While my dad and sister were rehearsing at the church, my mom, brother, and I waited for them across the street at the hall where the engagement and wedding reception would be taking place. It was a long wait because the groom’s side was so late to the rehearsal. We amused ourselves a bit by watching the decorator and his crew set things up in the hall.
After the rehearsal we rushed home to get ready.
The engagement ceremony was a typical Yoruba one I think (based on the few I’ve witnessed). Each side had its MC: the alaga ijoko (for the bride’s side) and the alaga iduro for the groom’s side. The parents of the bride had to receive the engagement letter from the groom’s side, say some prayers, dance (of course!), and collect money from the attendees. The groom came in next, after he and his men had given the women at the door sufficient money to be allowed to enter. After dancing in they prostrated in front of both sets of parents before the groom was allowed to go to his seat of honour. Last but not least, my sister came in and went through a similar series of things before joining her fiancé. She knelt in front of him and he sprayed her with money, then she put his hat on for him. My cousin read the engagement letter and then the engagement bounty from the groom’s side was brought in. After that the almost-engaged couple went to look at the bounty and my sister had to pick one thing from the pile—the all-important choice. Our great uncle was so worried that my sister wouldn’t know she was supposed to pick the bible so he kept yelling “Pick the bible! Pick the bible! It’s the blue rectangle!” It was funny how concerned he was. Then my sister got her ring, the newly-engaged couple kissed, they cut the cake, did some dancing, then snapped pictures with family and other guests. The end!
Although I’m a sucker for the part of the engagement where the groom and his men dobale (prostrate) in front of the parents, the highlight of my sister’s engagement was my dad’s bata dance. Imagine my father, whose only dance step is to shuffle back and forth on the dance floor while my mom dances circles around him (literally and figuratively!), moving his arms and legs energetically to the beat of the drums, and spinning around in his agbada. It was awesome! I was shocked, so shocked that I didn’t even capture it on camera which is too bad–I’ll be ready next time! He honestly caught everyone by surprise, including people who’ve known him since he was born. I told him I was going to write about his dancing and was asking him questions about the symbolism of the bata dance. He said it was the appropriate dance for the drumming. It was great. I also love the symbolism of the bride’s parents returning the dowry to the groom’s parents with the explanation that they aren’t selling their daughter but giving the groom’s family a wife.
Of course the alagas introduced as many opportunities to collect money as they could, and the drummers definitely knew how to get the attention of those doling out money.
My sister was a gorgeous bride-to-be! She just looked stunning and her solitary dimple adds to her beauty. The groom looked pretty good too and so happy (in my opinion most men look good in a suit but I think the same can be said of a man in an agbada–be still my heart! The groom’s mom picked the material for their outfits and she did a really good job.
I haven’t actually asked my sister or her husband for their permission to post these pictures I snapped so they may be removed after I tell her she’s on my blog. Enjoy!
My brother and I at the engagement.
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