By Sarah Abokoku
As Nigerians, we partake in numerous wedding traditions that have either been influenced by western culture or better still, passed down from generation to generation in our own culture. I mean think about it, a wedding probably won’t be a wedding without the bride walking down the aisle to meet her groom who’s waiting for her at the pulpit.
Please note that I am only tackling non-traditional weddings here. In the case of traditional weddings (I can only speak for the Yoruba traditions for now), other than the long wait to bring the bride out and the constant harassing of the men (minus having them prostrate), I am pretty satisfied with all that comes with it.
Now back to the main subject at hand. I am certain there are some traditions that we could do without and no one will notice or be upset. Well, maybe a few people will depending on what traditions we skip. It’s not like it’s their wedding after all.
White Wedding Dress
What year are we in again? You don’t have to go for the traditional white color. You can go for ivory as well. If you love colors, add a splash of color to your gown via your shoes, waist belt or bow, and jewelry. Some brides are even taking the step forward in nude, light pink, pewter and champagne colored gowns. Not your typical dress but it definitely adds a touch of uniqueness and reflects their personal style. You can still be YOU in your wedding dress.
Female Bridesmaids (bridesmen) and Male Groomsmen (groomswomen)
As the bride, if your best friend is a guy, you don’t have to eliminate him from your selected group of friends that make up your bridal party; make him “man of honor” or “bridesman”. Forget the stereotypical bridal party assemble. The same applies to the groom as well. I have a few close guy friends and it will be my honor if they come on my train as my “bridesmen”. I am yet to see a Nigerian wedding where this has happened but mine could be the first or perhaps yours could be.
Bridesmaids Wearing Matching Dresses, Hair-Styles, Shoes and Accessories
You know your girls don’t like pearls so why make them wear one.As the bride, you can dictate the color, fabric and perhaps the length of the dress but let the ladies on your train go out and pick a dress that reflects their style or personality. Just like you, they need to be comfortable in their outfits on your day. Being comfortable can equate to having fun and throwing all moodiness out of the window. If possible, let them choose their shoes and accessories as well.
Traditional Exchange of Vows
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying the same ol’ lines many people have said before you and will say after you. However, there’s something special about writing in your own words, how you feel about your SO and about your future together. These special vows moves people; talk about “awwww” and tear jerking moments. You don’t have to be a poet, song writer or author to come up with romantic lines; you can start from scratch or paraphrase borrowed lines from your favorite romance novels, movies, songs and poems. I have quite a number of recommendations for you if you need resources like these.
Making a Grand Entrance into the Wedding Reception Preceded by the Bridal Party
We already saw the bridal party walk down the aisle in church and the beautiful bride and handsome groom make their grand entrance in and out of the wedding venue. However, having the MC introduce all members of the bridal party as they engage in their mini walk-in/dance-off which clearly takes at least a good 5 minutes can be skipped.
I’ll rather them dance into the hall with the bride and groom in between which saves time or better still, just introduce the bride and groom alone. They deserve the introduction but we could cut off the bridal party dance/walk-in portion. I bet you wouldn’t notice it either.
Separating the bride and groom’s side of the family
This needs to stop. The whole purpose of the union is to make the couple one and indirectly the family one. However, it’s a common occurrence to see the clear split amongst both side of the family. I mean we already know who is who based on the color of their attire and gele. I don’t see the need to even split people further in the hall based on what side of the family they are related to or friends with. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had a table consisting of a mix of the bride and groom’s relatives; talking and getting to know each other. Great networking opportunity if you ask me. Don’t you agree?
Dancing in of the parents of the bride and groom at the wedding reception(typically accompanied by friends of the parents or groups of people they choose or select)
This can definitely be skipped. Not only does this take up a big chunk of the beginning portion of the ceremony due to parents being “danced-in” by their friends, association members and aso-ebi buyers, it’s just not necessary. May I suggest having an usher or selected guests gracefully walk them through the reception hall to their designated seats.
Newly Weds’ First Dance
If there’s any time besides when it’s time for food and dance-dance-dance where there’s no much side conversations at a wedding reception, it’s during this time. I am sorry but it’s pretty boring to me to watch two people slow dance to some ballad and I think majority of attendees agree with this. Most newly-weds now spice things up and turn this into a group dance type segment where they play songs like “Cupid Shuffle” and have their friends come on the dance floor to partake in a line dance with them. Now that’s fun. If you must have it on your agenda, at least make it fun for the guests
The same can be said for “Father-daughter” or “Mother-son” dances. However, I say keep this tradition. Every parent looks forward to this. You wouldn’t want to let mommy and daddy down, especially not after the $$$$$ they put into the day.
Tossing the Bouquet
While I enjoy watching women jump to catch the bouquet, I don’t care to have it at my wedding. As a wedding guest, I loathe this portion of the agenda and it doesn’t help that you have aunts and uncles pointing you out as a single lady to the MC.
Only time I participate in this tradition is if the bride or groom is a close friend of mine or out of pity because a lot of ladies refuse to leave their seats. I think it’s more of the challenge that comes with it. Now if the saying that the person to catch the bouquet will get married next actually proves to be true in all cases or majority of the times, please believe I’ll be the first on the floor each time and wouldn’t be in favor of skipping it. Don’t judge me. I want to get married at some point as well.
Tossing the Garter
No need to go into details here. My reasoning with “Tossing the Bouquet” above applies here as well. I mean think of it, how many guys have you heard say: “I wish I caught the garter..”. I bet the answer is none. In my opinion, this can be skipped and I’ve been to weddings where neither the bouquet nor garter were tossed and everyone was fine.
Giving Out Wedding Favors
I’ve already tackled this before here: Wedding Favors: Thanks but No Thanks . So you know where I stand on this. I say skip! Why waste money on something people will leave behind at the reception venue. Need I say more?