It’s finally here. After years of hits and misses, reminders of promises made to a dying father, a gradually receding hairline, and fielding questions as to ritual oaths and even sexuality, he finally takes a plunge into the deep and wavy sea called Marriage. Yes, it’s the day he finally decides to share his last name with someone, the day he bids adieu to his youth, the day evening hangouts lose their place to intimate family time.
You and the rest of the groomsmen have got your work cut out. Your eyes and heads still wear the effects of the previous night’s Bachelor’s Eve, and full sobriety would be too much to ask, but there is a role to play today, and dress you must. You struggle to negotiate through a bath in this hotel room where you all have converged, and you fix yourself up in the suit and tie provided by the groom; the tailor was in a good mood, and then there is the matter of something extra for the wardrobe. The groom cracks a few bachelor jokes for the last time (you know he is doomed to restricted conversations about dropping his wife off at work in future hangouts), and there is also a short trip down memory lane about all the flavours of soup he must have sampled before settling for this one.
As you and the rest of the crew gulp a few shots to fight off the hangover, you look closely at the groom’s face. You are looking for those signs of panic and freaking out like you see in a few Hollywood movies, but you find none. No excessive sweating in the palm, no rush-of-blood-to-the-head moments of wanting to dispose of the ring and run off. “This one is ready”, you say to yourself. Besides a few bruises to his bank account, he seems alright. He is sure of whose breath he wants to first perceive each morning for the rest of his life (or at least until matrimonal causes proceedings come calling). You wonder when you will ever develop the guts to make a honest woman out of one of the ladies you have and will come across; perhaps in ten years, perhaps never. Afterall, not every feet was made for that aisle, you have not fully processed the idea of waking up next to someone for a pretty indefinite period of time, and a life of perennial bachelorhood is well within the realm of possibilities.
“A man has two shots at jewelry: a wristwatch, and a wedding ring. A wristwatch is easier to take on and off than a wedding ring. ”
Apply eyeshadow. Wipe off. Apply another eyeshadow. Foundation has to be light. Sweat threatens. No, too much rouge. The make-up artist is having a hard time tending to the needs of the bride and the other prima donnas that make up the train. One rule remains clear: they must look gorgeous, but not to the point of outshining the bride. If not for anything, it’s her day.
Sure enough, it’s the happiest day of her life (or at least it should be). After years of prayers, of donning ill-fitting bridesmaid gowns, fielding questions from her mother and snoopy aunts, and frequent attendances at Singles’ Retreats and “My Wedding Must Hold This Quarter” seminars, she finally trades her last name for another (or puts it behind the hyphen). This year did not pass her by, birthdays would now feel less awkward than they have been over the past few years, and her parents can now get off her back. She made it to the finals this time, her soon-to-be groom did not pull an “up and leaving” on her like the rest.
The make-up artist has finally completed the daunting task of getting the train glammed up, and the queen is ready for a few pre-ceremony selfies with her subjects. She then replies a few chat messages, pretending to be angry at a few friends who have indicated their absence, though in reality she could care less; the lesser, the higher the chances of food going round. She has also been careful in sending her invites to the males: there are those she knows wont show up but whom she has invited anyway, and there are the douchebag exes whom she has not bothered to invite at all. She knows in her heart that even if it were possible, she would not want her groom to view a tape recording of all her activities over the years, even while dating him, but all that is past tense now.
The wedding ceremony itself plays out like a chore; admonitions to the bride to be good to her man, lullabies in form of Bible passages, and clichè toasts. The officiating priest throws shades at your crew of groomsmen in his sermon, trying too hard to be funny with his “he wouldnt be hanging out with you boys anymore” and “go and marry” jibes. The advice to the bride to cook good meals and be submissive is met with a few sneers from a few females you can tell are either divorcees or feminists. Rings are exchanged, and the groom is directed to “finally kiss his bride” (which in reality is happening for the nth time). All the while, you and the rest of the boys are fighting the urge to sleep, and you heave a sigh of relief when the church ceremony ends.
The reception venue is thrice is populated as what obtained in church. For a moment, it feels that all the prospectives couples in this city contracted the same DJ this season; you hear one track and you can almost tell the next three that would follow, you have zoomed past enough to know.
You are by no means an authority on wedding dynamics, but you can deduce that the order of happiness at wedding ceremonies would take this shape, in descending order: bride’s mother, bride, bride’s family, groom’s family, groom, groom’s friends, bride’s single friends. You can’t help but notice how the bride’s mother dances (finally, a grandchild in sight) , and how wide the bride’s smiles are. On the other hand, the groom’s friends know that the new husband won’t show up for sessions of Orijin or Star Radler as frequently as before, though you can take solace in the fact that there is a new place to each delicious meals on weekend. It is also impossible to ignore the sense of intimidation and pressure felt by unmarried single friends of the bride, who have dressed their best today, hoping that they just might find love and luck.
The MC treats the guests to a few stale jokes, picking on you and other groomsmen now and then. He could care less about the potency of his craft on this occasion, afterall he has been paid. The couple begin to dance, and from the moves you can tell where they met. She is joined by friends and enemies alike, though from the way some close in on her, you can’t help but wonder whether they are trying to find out if she is “heavy” so they can fuel their gossip sessions. A female guest who didnt quite get the memo tries to outdance the new bride, and she is caused to “accidentally” trip and fall. Order is restored.
The food is whipped out, and the eyes of the guests immediately brighten up. One of the canopies set up for the occasion plays shelter to a special group of women, the one with the prominent stretch marks and extra folds of flesh on their arms. They are all connected to the bride in one way or another: aunt’s best friend, neighbour’s cousin, schoolteacher, secondary school tailor, secretary to bride’s mother’s social club, aunt to bride’s ex-boyfriend. They have watched the bride grow, they say, and they must be served first, their black polythene bags on standby. Those distributing the food must show respect to these ones, and for as long as the trays keep passing, “they haven’t eaten”.
It’s time to pass the mantle. All the unmarried female guests take position, Beyonce’s hit track “single ladies” blaring out of the speakers. The bouquet finds its way into the air and after a brief scramble, is caught by one of the bridesmaids amidst screams of “this girl again? “. She is all smiles and takes a seat besides one of the older groomsmen, who is too busy fiddling with his phone to pay attention to her. You and your crew would later be made to “apologize” for “snubbing the bridesmaids”, but that’s another story.
It’s time to hand in gifts, and you find that the guests who go forward to grace the couple with waste baskets and trays are just about one-third of the population in attendance. All the while, you try so hard to dodge the confetti (all that shiny, flowery stuff they pop in the atmosphere at weddings) : in a way it signifies Love in the air, and you are not sure what to make of it, not sure what it means to you.
You are friends with the bride and groom, and you know that calls to the bride from you will dry up from this day; it’s not a conscious decision, it’s more like a reflex action. You eventually find an interesting female guest whom you engage in a witty conversation, mocking the gluttony on display and accessing the MC’s performance. Suddenly however, you fear that things might actually work with this lady because the chemistry is hard to ignore, and you are not quite sure whether you want to entertain the complications that come with commitment, so you walk away, making a deliberate decision not to exchange numbers.
“Wherever this goes
No matter how far
Honey you are the song that’s beating in my heart
Wherever we stand
Wherever we fall
It doesn’t matter at all because I will be forever yours
From this moment till the day the curtains close
Wherever this goes.”
(Congratulations and a Happy Married Life to Sandra Nwandem (nee Oyamendar) as she changes her last name today. You are awesome, you are great, and you deserve every smile you get.
Shout-outs as well to Bukola Ogungbe and Pepe Nwachi-Gomba (nee Nwakaji) who got hitched earlier in the month.)