I’m glad you enjoyed the recap of my sister’s engagement ceremony…so on to the wedding!
I forgot a detail from the engagement: her shoe strap came undone while she was dancing into the hall and she just danced as if nothing was wrong. She was worried but only someone who knows her well would have noticed.
In all, the engagement ceremony was about four or five hours long. The guests who came from out of town were driving back home and wanted to get home before dark, so they cleared out of the hall pretty quickly. Both sides of our family divided up the engagement offerings and transported it (and themselves) home. My sister, brother, cousins, and I headed back to the home we were staying at to get ready for the big day.
When we got home from the engagement we changed into casual clothing and started working on getting things ready for the big day. All but one of my sister’s bridesmaids came home with us and slept over which was great because my sister needed to do her hair and we needed to finish some other details of the wedding (the flowers) and our cousins are soooo talented in those areas. The bridesmaids spent a few hours fixing her hair and it looked so good when it was done. My immediate family has a
tradition unwise practice of staying up late before a big event, even though it would be smarter to get a good night’s sleep. We always do this, and thankfully adrenaline always gets us through a big day, even if we’ve had very little sleep. Though everyone else went to bed at a reasonable time, my sister was up until about 3am; I slept before she did. It’s no wonder then that it was difficult to wake up the next morning.
The wedding day
Around 7:00am on the morning of the wedding, my mom came into the room my sister and I were sharing to wake us up. We got up and started rushing about, but at one point I grabbed my sister and said “You’re getting married today!” and squealed—it was a small moment but one that I’ll remember.
Our cousins got to work beautifying the bride as soon as she had bathed. We tried to get her to eat but she was too nervous and just had a few sips of juice. My parents and brother ended up leaving the house before us because things were running late so after I put on my outfit I helped my sister get into her dress. She looked lovely, as I’m sure you’ll agree!
Our uncle brought his daughter, the only bridesmaid who didn’t sleep over, to the house we were staying at and he took on the role my father would have taken if he was still at the house: telling us every two or three minutes that we were running late and needed to hurry up. The bride was dressed and ready to go, and so was I. The bridesmaids and maid of honour were dressed but ready to go? Hah! I am too low maintenance—in fact my sister’s wedding day was the first day this year that I had worn makeup—so I was annoyed by how long it was taking my cousins to get ready. Of course they have to look good but at one point I wanted to ask them which of them was the bride. Don’t get me wrong I don’t blame them for wanting to look their best but we didn’t have time for that. And when they were dressed and their makeup was done, do you think it was time to go? Nope! They had to snap pictures of themselves (they got some great shots of the bride too though, so I can’t be too hard on them!).
But praise the Lord we finally got out of the house, and of course to pay me back for being so impatient, I realized I had forgotten my purse in all the rush so I had to go back inside to get it, meaning I was officially the one who kept the others waiting. Serves me right!
The wedding took place in an Anglican church and we had heard that the wedding would begin on time, regardless of whether or not the bride and groom were on the premises! We drove into the church parking lot just as the wedding was to begin (10:00am); they had already begun to play the opening music. We had one small problem: two of the flower girls were in their regular clothing outside the church because they were waiting for their dresses! We were supposed to have received them the day before but they didn’t arrive. The poor girls (our young cousins) were nearly in tears because the other flower girls had already walked down the aisle and they were afraid their dresses wouldn’t arrive until the wedding was over. The dresses finally arrived 15 minutes or so later and another family member and I helped the girls get dressed. The girls were ready to go but the church’s wedding ceremony coordinator wouldn’t allow them to join the rest of the wedding party because the wedding was underway. After some pleading he eventually allowed them in, saving two little girls from heartbreak.
We had some valuables in the trunk of the car that drove us to the wedding, and because I didn’t know the driver of the car and there were too many things in the trunk for me to carry, I decided to stay outside to watch the car since the driver did not go into the church (character flaw: I’m naturally suspicious and mistrustful). Since I was outside, people kept asking me questions, so I became the unofficial greeter, telling the latecomers which entrance they could use to enter the church. Thankfully I was able to see and hear the ceremony clearly from my post and I managed to get some shots of the bride and groom too.
One thing that had upset my sister and I about the wedding was the fact that I couldn’t be her maid of honour or a bridesmaid. Well, maybe I could have but to keep things uncomplicated I had decided not to press the issue. As a result, I was surprised when I was called to be one of the official witnesses and sign the wedding certificate–it was a a nice surprise. Of course the church had to collect some money so the bride and groom had to do some hustling on their wedding day. But they’re so cute; who could resist giving them money?
The wedding procession ended with a song and the groom sang his heart out right out of the church. Once the wedding party was outside, the photographer appeared and started taking the list of pictures that had been agreed upon beforehand. I was amazed by his efficiency, though he was too speedy for my liking. He spent about one minute, maximum, on each shot and I was afraid that some shots would come out blurry, so fast was his pace. The bride, groom, and the parents had barely finished posing for their picture when he called for the next group of people. I was able to snap a few pictures before I was approached by one of the church clergy, who wanted to know where the food for the clergy and the choir was. I remembered hearing that a cooler of food would be prepared (I think it’s customary to do this?) but I didn’t know where to find it. He had to come to me several times before I was finally able to hook him up with the food and drinks.
The reception followed immediately after the wedding in the hall that was just across the street. No surprise, the hall was full by the time we got there. This is inevitable but still staggering. We naively didn’t think that guests who weren’t close to the family would fill up the front-most seats and hadn’t marked any tables as “Reserved” so some friends and family on the bride’s side didn’t get the seats that we would have liked them to have. Even so, everyone ate and drank to their heart’s content and that’s the true measure of the success of a wedding isn’t it? Our family members really helped and the ones who were taking care of the distribution of drinks especially deserve commendation.
Let’s talk about the distribution of wedding favours for a minute. In addition to the usual suspects that get distributed during the reception (plates, mugs, towels, other kitchen gadgets), we had made commemorative pens for distribution. We had plenty and I was tasked with distributing them. Because we had plenty, I walked through the hall giving each person one pen. Of course guests wanted more than one pen, and they also wanted to collect pens for people who weren’t in the hall (or even at the wedding). I moved from the front to the back of the hall, but for some reason, people may have become concerned that the pens wouldn’t make it to them because one minute I was making my way through the hall, and the next I was mobbed! I kid you not: about twenty people came at me, hands outstretched, demanding a pen. Those who knew me called me by name. I just wasn’t expecting it. I kept telling people that it’s just a pen, but the demands just got louder. Eventually my cousin (who weighs 90lbs, soaking wet) had to come and stand between me and the crowd, and tell them that they weren’t getting a pen unless they sat down (she had to scream to be heard over them). Of course some remained but at least I could move to those who were sitting and continue the distribution.
Love how the groom is into his dancing!
The bride and groom danced in to the reception hall and my sister once again impressed me with her dancing skills…the girl was in a zone for sure (she’s not one for public attention but she held her own). The funny thing is you can see how hard she was concentrating in some pictures: I could tell she knew she had to dance like her life depended on it and she did not disappoint. As the unofficial wedding coordinator I inherited a bunch of tasks, like tracking down the champagne glasses and cake-cutting knife and setting them up, finding the person who had the key to the storage room as needed, passing messages from my parents and others at the high table to family members and guests, giving the bride back her gold flip flops that she had smartly thought to bring, leaving me walking around barefoot because I couldn’t remember who I had given my wedding shoes to…you know, just your typical wedding coordinator sturvs. :) Thank God my skirt touched the ground: nobody knew I was barefoot until I showed them.
Our family friend in Canada gifted the bride with this cake (her sister in Lagos is a baker)
I love running around behind the scenes, so I was in my element. I did wish I could have been strictly a spectator at the wedding, just so I could soak up the sweet bride/groom moments that I love but I also felt good knowing that I was doing tasks that needed to be done.
The excellent musician and his band got people on the dance floor but people started clearing out of the hall and heading home far too soon. This is one thing I dislike: in every wedding I’ve attended in Nigeria, the church part seems to take a very long time but then the reception portion always feels rushed, like it’s ending too soon. Once people have eaten and collected favours they’re gone! I know receptions in Nigeria usually start earlier than they would here (they usually start in the evening, around 5:00pm at the earliest). Here, the party usually ends at 1:00am, 2:00am or later, but for reasons of security, that isn’t as easily done in Nigeria.
So just like that my baby sister was married and a part of another family! I thought we’d have time together but that isn’t how it works is it? My brother, cousin, and I headed home, and our parents showed up later. The rush was over, the event we had come to do was a success on all fronts and we finally had time to catch up on rest and thank God for helping us through everything.
The wedding was a success but it was also a learning experience too. We learned which family members we can depend on and which ones won’t hesitate to use the distractions and chaos of a wedding to take advantage of us. We learned that even though there aren’t many differences between the church ceremonies in Nigeria and in Canada, trying to get a reception hall full of Nigerians to be quiet so that the attention can be on the MC or anyone else talking into a mic is impossible (this is true whether you’re in Canada or Nigeria!).
If you made it to the end of this long entry you deserve some wedding cake!
Want my monthly messages?
Subscribe for a monthly, often personal, message from Good Naija Girl.