I’m not very hungry but thanks for the offer!

Last weekend, I experienced my first Nigerian wedding. By the end of 2014, our office will have experienced three staff weddings. I missed the first wedding as I was in the United States attending two other weddings so I was looking forward to my first Nigerian wedding experience. As with most African countries, marriage celebrations consist of two ceremonies – a traditional celebration and a “white” wedding (what we are accustomed to in the US). I missed the traditional wedding because I was in Tunisia but I was looking forward to the “white” wedding.

A few months ago, I was talking with my colleague who is getting married in December and she was telling me about an episode of “Four Weddings” that included a Nigerian/British bride. The British reality show takes four brides, who attends each other’s weddings and provide each wedding with a ranking. The person with the highest score will win a honeymoon. There is also a U.S. version of the show. Because the Nigerian wedding had many cultural elements (traditional dress, religious ceremony, local food, and Africa time) the other brides, who were typical British brides, didn’t enjoy her wedding and she received the lowest score among the brides. A few weeks ago while I was scanning DSTV for something to watch, I ran across this episode.

My plan was to go to the wedding with one of my colleagues. At 10:00am, I started to get ready when my colleague called and said that he would not be going to the wedding on time. I was a little confused. The wedding was supposed to start at Noon but he wasn’t planning to be at my apartment until 1pm. Initially, I was frustrated, who attends a wedding an hour later…and if we were to attend the wedding this late, should we just head over to the reception? At 1:00pm, we were off to the wedding. When we arrived at the church, it was clear we were not the only ones planning a late arrival. When we walked in, I was confused and a bit dumbfounded as the couple at the front was not my IRI colleague. Not only were we late but somehow at the wrong wedding…

After investigating the situation, we were actually experiencing a triple wedding. There were three couples getting married at the same time on this Saturday afternoon. And it turns out, the wedding was nearly an hour and a half late so in some ways, we arrived right on time…Unlike in the U.S., where couples go over the guest list numerous times to pare down the numbers to fit the budget, in Nigeria, your wedding is open to all that attend. There is no RSVP…you just show up and somehow you are accommodated. And while the reception agenda moved on time, because of the large number of people that showed up, many were unable to eat because the food ran out – one of the significant problems of not holding tightly to a guest list. When I approached the buffet line to get food, I was informed there were no more plates. To solve this problem, the caterer staff began to wipe off used plates with a napkin and reused them.  I know I am going to sound like an American, but that it is completely unacceptable! (And unsanitary)  My response when asked if I wanted a plate, “I’m not very hungry but thanks for the offer!”

For those that know me, I am not a big fan of weddings…well, I don’t enjoy all the details that go into wedding planning. In my experience with friends, people spend too much time deciding on a shade of blue and a particular flower. I love the idea of a man and woman becoming one and the celebration that ensues…but planning a wedding seems to bring out the worst in people. I am all about hiring someone to do those details and just show up.  Maybe that just the man in me speaking…When my day eventually arrives, I give all those who read this blog the authority to remind me of my words when I am stressed about wedding details. My experiences on the African continent continues…in unexpected ways!

Despite my negative attitude toward weddings, I am very happy for my colleague and excited for the new adventure that he is embarking on…

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3 Comments on “I’m not very hungry but thanks for the offer!

  1. My goodness, I was afraid you were going to say they were putting left over food on the plates they were wiping off! Sounds like you are becoming a wedding expert.

  2. This is Nigeria by the book! When I was there, they were washing the plates in plastic bins. I’m pretty sure it was just as bad as wiping them off with a towel.

  3. This sounds a lot like the Nigerian wedding I went to this year in the U.S. They held the start of the wedding for nearly 30 minutes . . . and people still showed up 45 minutes after that – the wedding was practically over! I was a greeter and had to stop people from entering the church as the bride was walking down the aisle. It was mind-boggling to me.

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