Recently, a friend of mine told me her sister and her fiancé had begun planning to get wedded in August. Two days later, the fiancé proposed at a Chinese Restaurant. Hearing of this, I asked why there was a need for a proposal after plans for the wedding had commenced. You are probably thinking I’m…
Recently, a friend of mine told me her sister and her fiancé had begun planning to get wedded in August. Two days later, the fiancé proposed at a Chinese Restaurant. Hearing of this, I asked why there was a need for a proposal after plans for the wedding had commenced. You are probably thinking I’m the bad guy now; well, she thought so too.
It made me think about all the ‘feferity’ we see in Nigerian weddings nowadays. I even conducted a poll among my friends asking if they would still propose or want to be proposed to after starting plans for their wedding and why, if yes. There was some balance between the Yays and the Nays. The females in the Yay camp said they would want a proposal still because they want the thrill, the element of surprise – although there was obviously nothing to be surprised about anymore – and it would make them feel special. I asked why the man’s choice to commit the rest of his life to them didn’t make them feel special enough, why they needed the ‘thrill’ of a proposal to feel special, I got the response ‘you sef!’ followed by silence. One of the males said he was too romantic to skip the proposal while the others drifted among ‘it’s the normal thing to do’, ‘it would make her happy and give her a story to tell’ and ‘it would serve to fulfil all righteousness’. All of that only solidified my view of recent Nigerian weddings and my belief that a lot of people now engage in wedding theatrics for the wrong reasons.
I will use the Yoruba wedding as my reference point. The Yoruba tribe is one of the most dominant in Nigeria and Yorubas are particularly known for their flair for parties, popularly called ‘owambe’. This, amongst others, is a reason why the celebration of a couple’s union is a great deal in Yorubaland. In the not-so-distant past, the routine of the Yoruba wedding involved the couple – when they concluded they were ready to become more than mere boyfriend and girlfriend – having an Introduction ceremony at which both nuclear families would meet to choose a date for the wedding. When the time for the proper wedding came, an engagement ceremony, a religious ceremony and a reception party would take place within a weekend or sometimes, within a week. Despite the Yoruba people’s flair for parties and flamboyance, weddings were regarded sacred and many people kept them low-key or moderately publicised because of superstitions and beliefs that it would increase chances of the couple being targeted by evil people.
That tradition has been greatly modified in recent times, not only for Yoruba weddings, but for Nigerian weddings in general. At a point in a relationship, the man believes he’s ready to tie the knot and that his woman wants him enough to want the same, so he proposes. In some cases, the woman does the proposal or even forces it but those are not the foci today. The usual proposal nowadays involves both emotions and glamour on variable scales. It is rather too common to find the man seeking new, jaw-dropping ways to wow his woman, involving family and friends, investing funds, technique, time and every other resource available. Not only has the proposal become a standard to uphold, it has also been set a certain way that many men feel like they have to aspire to get a distinction grade for their efforts. Some women wouldn’t even accept a less-than-ordinary proposal with a big rock to match, many have exotic locations outside Nigeria high on the list of places they dream for their hands to be asked in marriage.
If she says yes, the engagement period officially commences, then an introduction ceremony which is sometimes almost as big as the wedding itself, is held. Extended families and friends are invited, and it’s norm to find a common attire, the ‘aso-ebi’, at these occasions. During the countdown to the proper engagement and wedding ceremonies, pre-wedding shoots, #XXXY2016 trends, features on BellaNaija or some other blog and bridal showers may be done, depending on the couple’s wants and financial capacity.
The proper wedding affair is not devoid of all the preceding flamboyance. In addition to the aso-ebi, the ‘Yoruba demon attire’- a well-tailored white or black agbada donned by males attending a wedding – is a growing trend among young Nigerians. Regardless of the wearer’s roots, it’s a sure way to slay anytime. The couples being celebrities is even a major plus as this means a wedding outside the country is more likely. Privacy has to give way to massive media coverage and the presence of colleagues in the entertainment industry just might result in the wedding eventually becoming a mini-concert. A modern twist even involves the date of the religious or so-called ‘white’ wedding put some months after the engagement ceremony.
Some people go as far as spending most or all of their savings on an excessive wedding, only to go broke afterwards. A few months ago, a man complained on social media about his fiancée’s plan to spend 15million Naira on their wedding instead of investing some of the money on a car and his masters’ program. It is now a weird thing for anyone to say they don’t want a big wedding. Big proposals have become ‘the norm’. Women aspire to be BellaNaija Brides. The guests care more about their aso-ebi and being on fleek than the true happiness of the couple.
With so much attention paid to the unification of two people, it is sad that separation and divorce rates are on a constant rise. It seems to me that people get lost in the thrill of wedding celebrations and lose sight of those things that are truly important: love, unity and commitment. Many couples focus on extravagance and don’t even think twice about their vows or upholding them after the wedding. Some don’t even think deeply about the new lives they are about to start. We love weddings so much that the institution of marriage has begun to lose its essence to us. When all the layers of glitz are peeled away, what usually remains are two people who are actually clueless about how to make a marriage work. This is not a post to shame big or luxurious weddings, this is only meant to be a reminder of the true essentials: both parties’ unwavering determination to ensure a lifetime of happiness together.
What do you think about our Nigerian weddings?
Image via Travel Start