I’m attending my first Nigerian wedding in Canada this weekend. Two years ago I attended my cousin’s wedding in Nigeria, which was the first bride-and-groom-are-Nigerian wedding that I had attended. Even among Nigerians in the same city as I am, it’s a bit odd that I haven’t attended many Nigerian weddings but my excuse is a)none of my (few) Nigerian friends have married (yet!) and b)I don’t go to weddings that I am not explicitly invited to. I’ve attended two Yoruba-style engagements and one wedding between a Yoruba girl and an Angolan guy so far but this is the first Nigerian wedding I’ve been invited to. I’m really looking forward to it, especially since the bride and groom met at a Nigerian wedding four years ago this summer (God: please let my life echo this story!)
I was talking to the bride-to-be last weekend and of course her biggest problem is how large the wedding is getting due to all the uninvited guests that will be attending. If you’re not Nigerian or African, this might seem strange to you because most North Americans I know don’t crash weddings, no matter how popular the movie Wedding Crashers was. As of last weekend, the bride-to-be was expecting 500 people, which is more than she had invited. She sent out invitations and what baffled her most wasn’t that Mr. & Mrs. X included the names of their children on the RSVP card that they were returning (even though in some cases the kids weren’t invited), but the fact that Mr. & Mrs. X included the names of Mr. & Mrs. Y, people that the bride and groom do not know at all! And this happened more than once.
Personally, I don’t understand it. Let’s imagine that Mr. & Mrs. X have visitors staying with them and they feel bad leaving them at home to attend a wedding. First of all, Mr. & Mrs. Y don’t even know the bride and groom, so why would they want to attend the wedding? Why can’t Mr. & Mrs. Y spend a quiet evening at their friends’ home, understanding that due to plans that were determined before their arrival, their hosts won’t be available to entertain them for that evening? I think most houseguests would be understanding about that. But in many cases, RSVP or not, Mr. & Mrs. X will bring their houseguests along, not caring if their guests take the seats meant for someone who actually knows the bride and groom and who received an invitation. It’s aggravating for brides especially. Imagine: you invite 200 people to your wedding and you could have 50 extra people show up â€“ or more! Regardless of whether or not you’re serving buffet style food or by the plate, an extra 50 people makes a difference.
I have heard of Nigerian brides and grooms who have managed to pull off small, intimate weddings that don’t include their cousin’s university roommate. I’ve heard of some different tricks that worked:
Sending the invitations on very short notice, hoping that people will be busy on the wedding day
I don’t like this idea because sometimes the people you really want at your wedding may not be able to attend. You could tell the people you really want to attend to “save the date”, but I wonder if word of mouth would cause the information about the wedding to spread to people you don’t want to attend anyway.
Insisting that wedding guests bring their wedding invitation to the venue and not admiting anyone to the wedding who does not have the wedding invitation | By invitation only weddings
This one works, especially if you have a list of all the invitees on a checklist for those who will forget their invitation but who are actually invited. Bouncers at the wedding would also be an important component of this plan. How mortifying would it be to show up for a wedding you were not invited to, and be turned away? Yikes.
Having a destination wedding
This is a good way to keep numbers down: don’t get married where most of your family and friends live. If the destination is one of those one or two week vacation package deals you can guarantee that due to time or money restrictions, you won’t have a full house of guests…unless you give them lots of notice so they can save money (and vacation time) for it.
When my turn comes, I intend to keep things small by Nigerian wedding standards at around 150 people (keep in mind how random this number is since I have no idea if my future husband will have a trillion family members, all of whom are very special and dear to him). If I have my way I will get married in Canada (and do my engagement in Nigeria) so that will automatically keep my wedding numbers low. I would love to do the guestlist/bouncer thing, but that’s a bit much for what I expect to be no more than about 150 people. Instead, I will beg my mom on my knees to please not mention my wedding to anybody except the people she asked me to invite.
Then I’ll pray very very hard the only thing I’ll have to worry about is the length of my very long-winded father’s speech!
- How have you or friends of yours successfully kept the number of wedding guests down?
- Do you think keeping numbers down is the biggest wedding-related concern after ‘Where do I find my bride/groom in the first place?’