Before last year, I had never been to a Nigerian wedding and last year I attended four celebrations, three involving Nigerian women that I knew and one was the son of a Naija woman I knew. Here are some things I learned about Nigerian weddings (Yoruba in particular):
The chances of a Nigerian who has been living in North America for many years marrying a fellow Nigerian are slim
Granted, my sample size is very small but of the four couples that got married, only one bride and groom were both Nigerian. The male Nigerian married a girl who was half Lebanese, and the two other girls married men from South America and the Caribbean. I can understand why this is the case: although our city has a number of Nigerians, the density is not so high that your chances of meeting a fellow Nigerian exceed your chance of meeting men from some of the other nationalities out there. And when you meet somebody that you click with, refusing to marry them because of something that clearly doesn’t have a large bearing on your relationship is just plain silly.
In all the weddings that I attended, the Non-Nigerians were very willing to wear Nigerian garb and take full part in the traditional aspects of the wedding. Perhaps they didn’t understand why certain things were done, but to be honest, do I really understand? Before entering into the traditional part of my wedding, I would have to have all the different elements explained to me, and learn why it is being done. These are the sorts of things that I think someone who was already familiar with Nigerian culture would know, and that would make it so much easier. It’s not impossible without a fellow Nigerian, but easier.
Naija weddings are disorganized and Naija time still applies
I’m sure there are some brides and families that manage to host a wedding that runs smoothly and on time but I’m still waiting to attend one of those weddings! With the exception of one wedding we were waiting for hours before the celebration started and really, what was the point of distributing a program that ended up being pushed back by so many hours? I attend a few Naija parties every year, so this doesn’t surprise me at all, but I live in hope of hosting a party where people actually arrive on time so that events can start as scheduled. And I’d like to think my wedding is important enough to the Nigerian attendees that they’d realize that there might be non-Nigerians there who don’t understand why they have to wait an hour or two past the start time for an event to start. And what is up with all the talking through the reception, in particular when the traditional events are happening? You’d think the guests were there to socialize with each other, and not because of the bride and groom! Surely that’s not the case, right? ;)
We Nigerians are cheap and will beg for volunteers, even on the day of the wedding, rather than pay for the service
I’m thrifty too: I hate paying exorbitant prices for something that I can get for free or cheaper, but for my wedding I hope that this tendency isn’t so strong. I want a wedding that’s beautiful and I want all the people I invite to enjoy it, and to not be stuck serving food, watching children, cleaning up in the kitchen, putting up decorations or sweeping and mopping after the event. I was asked by the mothers of most of the women who got married last year to help in some capacity and I definitely got the impression that if I wasn’t going to be helping with the wedding, my presence wouldn’t be missed! Being a good Naija girl, I did my part, but I can’t deny that I wanted to be one of the other guests who the mother of the bride didn’t know well enough to ask to help.
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Now, I say all that but I have seen weddings that are quite elegant and appear to have been catered and served by hired help, so I know they aren’t all like that. I also bet that despite my best intentions my wedding will have all of the above characteristics and perhaps even some that I didn’t mention. I hope not but hey, it’s in my genes!