I always had this dream in my head that I would not have a traditional wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a good traditional wedding. However, where I from, traditional weddings have an attending of no less than 300 guests and are mandatorily followed by what I like to call a “white wedding”.
As you can imagine, a wedding for 300 guests is not exactly cheap. It is the girl’s parents that foot that bill, but it was not my parents part of the budget that I was worried about. My concern was more on what my future Scottish husband could afford to ‘pay’ for me.
However, when I told my dad I didn’t want a traditional wedding, his response was “did you give birth to yourself? The traditional wedding is not for you. It’s for us. All you need to do is dress up and show up. We will take care of the rest”.
I will start at the beginning. By the time my husband proposed to me in front of my family and friends 4 years ago, I already knew what kind of wedding I wanted.
First thing I had to do was officially tell my father that I was getting married, although he was present when we got engaged. Sounds absurd? Well, it isn’t. It’s tradition. You see we do things half and a half in my family. Everything in our home has always been a good cross between western and cultural. For example, we speak both English and our mother tongue, the girls greet while kneeling down to some guests and with just a simple ‘hi’ to others. Our meals range from spaghetti bolognese to charcoal steamed bananas… You get my drift.
Back to the story. So although my dad already knew that I was getting married, I had to formally tell him. Personally, I would have let it slide. However, my mother made sure I showed my cultural respect to my father and officially tell him that I was getting hitched. As if the proposal didn’t send the message home.
Anyway, out of respect for my father and culture, I gathered up the courage to finally tell my dad that his firstborn daughter was getting married. Don’t get me wrong, I was not afraid of my dad. It was the way in which I had to tell him that was weirding me out.
I don’t remember what day it was but my dad was sitting outside on the veranda as he normally did. I made sure none of my siblings were in the adjoining living room as I knew if they heard the formality of the occasion, they would have teased me till kingdom come.
So anyway, after about 10 failed attempts in I mustered up the guts and went outside to join my dad on the verandah. I sat down next to him and told him I had something to tell him. He played along and very seriously came closer for me to tell him whatever I wanted to say.
“Daddy, I am getting married,” I said. He looked at me with not a bit of emotion on his face and said, “oh ok. When?” So I told him when and he told me that as tradition requires, I had to go put a request in for the date with his sister who would then come back to my dad and he would tell us what date was best for him. Meanwhile, the caterer had already been paid.
So I called my paternal aunt and told her I was coming along with my finacé and my sister. I had never in my life visited my aunty so she automatically knew what I was coming for and me to get my fiancé to write a letter requesting to be allowed to visit my father for the wedding on the proposed date for the traditional wedding.
If you have read my previous post, you will know what a son-in-law means to a girls family. The visit to my aunt was very formal and awkward as she dictated to my Scottish husband what to write to my father in our language. It took forever and afterwards, we were given a warm soda and some ground nuts as a light refreshment. (Sodas are a big deal where are come from only for special occasions)
Needlesstosay, my aunt showed up at our house the following Sunday carrying the letter we had given her to deliver to my father that I lived with at the time. I am not exaggerating guys, this is exactly what happened.
Anyway, my dad agreed to the dates. Of course he did- he had already paid most of the service providers.
He also gave us a list for the dowry that my husband had to bring. Fortunately for us, my father was a very reasonable man who didn’t believe in bankrupting his daughter’s future husband before we were even married. He told us to choose what we could afford of the list.
To be honest, my dad was probably just doing what he had dreamed of doing since the day I was born. You see, in African culture, a girl that has finished school, gotten a good job and hasn’t gotten pregnant while at it is everything to be proud of. What good is a ‘gem’ if you can’t show it off?
I know a lot of you are already shocked at the fact that I had to go through such hoops just to get married. Then to top it all up my husband paid for me?
Calm down, neither my husband nor I minded that my parent asked for dowery at all. For as much as we we don’t care much for it, we do respect the culture and more importantly my parents. None of this was forced on us, and if we had really not wanted to do it, we could have told my parents and they wouldn’t have minded much. However, it was a fun process that we look back on and laugh at the fond memories. If I could describe the proud look on both my parents’ faces while I was dancing with my husband on both my traditional and ‘white’ wedding, you would understand what it meant to them.
As for the bride price, no one in my family considers it as ‘bride price’. We all consider dowry as a gift that a man gives his wife’s parents as a token of his appreciation to them for raising him a wonderful wife. Now, of course, the critics will insist on the fact that it is still bride price, but in my opinion, its a “glass half full or half empty” kind of thing.- it just depends on who is looking at it.
I must say, I had a ton of fun on my traditional wedding with the colorful traditional clothes, the vibey African music and the 400 plus guests that were in attendance- 80% of whom were only there for the food and to see the white man. My grandma still talks about how much my husband cant dance to anyone who will listen. 😂
The drama didn’t end there, guys. We still had a ‘white’ wedding to plan. Our wedding drama continues in my next post.
Meantime, here is a photo of our traditional wedding. Hubby is shy so I won’t put one with him, but this one is of me in red, my sister with a bow and some of my gazzlion cousins.
The pictures below are an example of the gifts a man gives his in-laws. I didn’t put a picture of a cow, goat and chicken as some people may be a bit sensitive, but they are part of the package to.
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See you next week.