African traditional weddings come in various ethnicities, culture, shapes and sizes. And while wedding ceremonies in a lot of African countries are usually one of the few occasions where African folks can freely exhibit their various cultural enthusiasms such as music, rituals and dances, several shenanigans that are the wrong blend of amusing and humiliating are frequently on the rise.
While you may want to believe that every type of wedding has its own drama, we can say for sure that African weddings come with a lot of extras. From unbelievable dowry requirements to uncivil relatives, several unwanted dilemmas continue to surface, almost wriggling their way into becoming norms at most African weddings. If you have got your big day coming up soon, here are 10 things you want to be conscious of to ensure that your big day doesn’t get ruined!
1. Outrageous dowry demands
If you’re from the western world and have never heard the word “dowry”, you’re forgiven. If you’re African, you’ve definitely heard the word. Chances are, you’ve paid it or are going to pay it one day. So, what exactly is dowry? Dowry, also referred to as bride price is a set of requirements, often consumable items that is required to be paid by the groom to the bride’s family as a token for the bride’s hand in marriage. This tradition is one of the oldest African cultures.
Although dowry may vary from culture to culture, the list will usually include farm produce such as yam, rice, maize, livestock and some materialistic items like traditional clothes and wrappers. In more recent times, African parents have developed an annoying knack for requesting for rather outrageous items or quantities from grooms looking to marry their daughters.
In some cases, families may demand goats, oil, yams and other produce in overabundance. Some families and relatives even go as far as evaluating the total amount of monies that has been spent on raising the bride and her education as is the case in the eastern part of Nigeria. At times, these demands may total to thousands of dollars and ends up causing the groom to result to obtaining loans or as more commonly seen, flee from the union altogether especially when the arrangement is inter-ethnic.
2. Poor planning
Irrespective of your race and ethnicity, poor planning can be a problem in every wedding. Owing to the somewhat unusual demands of African in-laws however, you can expect extra hurdles to scale and poor planning can leave you with an unredeemable ceremony on your hands.
Without taking the adequate steps to cater for your guest and double-checking other thing such as venue, food, rings and co., you certainly will be setting up yourself for a disastrous wedding.
More often than not, there is usually friction between mother of the bride and mother of the groom or the bride and groom’s mother. Other relative too can have long scores to settle and figure that there is no better place to do it than your big day.
Prepare to quell many quarrels surrounding the colour of the ceremonial attire, what families should dance first and even who didn’t greet who first. Keeping everyone happy here will go a long way in keeping your wedding drama-free
If it was up to me, I’d skip the part where the congregation is asked if there is anyone not in support of the union. Whether it’s the disgruntled ex-girlfriend that he left you for, or your ex-boyfriend that you went to extra lengths to make sure he didn’t get an invite, you will be extra lucky if the only thing you have to worry about is why the food is taking so long rather than why your soon-to-be spouse belongs to them.
5. D-day demands
Even when you have met up with rarest things included on your dowry list, African relatives and In-laws may still decide to greet you with an extra surprise and demand something else on the D-day. Failure to meet these new requirements may go as far as barring the procession on the wedding day.
There is no overstating the essence of a high quality and quantity of food when it comes to African weddings. Granted, food is a staple necessity in every type of wedding, but African’s can be extra. This is because of two reasons. First, most African cultures have adopted western influence and as such, it is not unlikely to find rice, salad and other continental recipes on display. However, for Africans, none of these things come close to special foods that are believed to be reserved for special days. The inability of everyone to get ample servings of such native dishes is sure to stir up some drama.
The caterer had also better get her meals right as guests can be very vocal about the lack of skill or perfection, immediately turning the wedding ceremony to be solely cut out for food. If you plan on slaughtering a cow, kill two because meat is never enough and ensure that the portions are decent enough to be satisfactory to everyone. Watch out for the extra guests that will always find their way into your party, invited or not.
7. Venue and Traffic
Strive to stay drama-proof and choose a befitting hall that is considerate of weather, size, accessibility and traffic. If you pick an area too exotic or too expensive, you can envision a lower turnout and if your venue is not right for the occasion, you will end up looking like you’re throwing a social fellowship rather than a matrimonial ceremony.
8. Music and Photographs
Unlike modern atmospheres that may solely rely on live bands, African weddings will always have a space to fit in their cultural music, drum beating and DJ party mixes. The key here is to make sure that your DJ delivers on native and indigenous beats when the party is prime for funky and slow, enjoyable rhythms when love is in the air. Since you’d be taking a lot of shots on the day and making amazing memories that you really can’t physically relive, your photographer is just as important as your groom on the day.
Although souvenirs may not be overly popular in western cultures, they are almost a constitutional requirement in popular west African weddings. From hand-held fans to branded calendars, printed exercise books and much more, African guests are expecting your take-home package.
An insufficiency of souvenirs may lead to breakouts and retaliation by verbal abuses to the distributor. So, if you’re not going to make enough souvenirs, don’t make at all.
While this one is not solely in your hands, checking with forecasts and considering the climates and environment that you’re hosting your wedding will do you no harm whatsoever. If you have your event scheduled for the rainy season, be sure to use an in-door venue that can accommodate the hundreds and thousands of guests that you will be expecting. Also, take the weather into consideration while selecting the type of foods and their availability in the season.