There are loads of “arrangements and arguments involved,” as a would-be bride put it. Every couple must work together, especially if the funds are limited and there’s no godfather to turn it. Guests come mainly to eat, drink, and see what you’re wearing. They may bring gifts but the actual job of putting it together is all yours.
Ghanaian-born Betty Sarpong and her British-born fiancé Chinedu Nnawuchi are finding that out daily, as they prepare for their big day – December 21st. The UK residents will be walking down the aisle in a West London church. You may not be there to cheer, hug or kiss them, but they have decided to share their challenges with you, as the clock ticks.
Over 200 guests are expected and there’s so much to do before the day. There’s the church service to plan, the reception to manage, plus the decorations, bridal party, cards, cakes, cars, hotel, food, drinks, asoebi, and the gifts list.
Face2Face asked the “London” couple what they knew about weddings prior to organizing their own.
“Not much. I just had a perception but no direct experience. But going through it now, it’s a lot. I wish I had more time. I think you need six months to plan a wedding if you have to do it yourself,” said Chinedu, who’s still in his work clothes at nearly midnight.
He sunk into a couch beside a tired-looking Betty, attired in a black jacket and red skirt.
“I think you need three years to plan this. I didn’t know much about planning a wedding – apart from what you see on TV or attending a friend’s weddings. Now, I know it’s not easy. It’s a lot of arguments. It’s very stressful, I’m tired, I don’t know what to do anymore,” Betty, 28, added, looking flustered and shivering with cold.
Although Betty was sleepy, her eyes lit up when she was asked to describe what she would wear.
“If I can get a short-sleeved puffy dress, I’ll wear that but if I can’t get that, I will wear a boop tube dress with a puffy bottom. I’ll have a five-metre veil, a small jacket on the dress because in my church you’re not allowed to reveal your chest, you have to cover up. I will wear royal blue shoes, pearls and diamond, matching ear rings and necklace. My hair will be a simple weave, curried up and pinned to the side,” the would-be bride rattled on.
The 38-year-old groom was concise in his description.
“Mine will be a grey tail coat, with a white shirt, a waist coat and a white caravat. But there’s so much to consider when planning a wedding,” he added, thoughtfully.
Betty ran off to prepare food leaving Chinedu do the talking. He continued to bare his heart on what lies ahead.
“Even when it comes to getting a hall or what to wear, you must consider the families’ and church’s requirements. You have to try to consider all the different elements from the different parties involved and try to incorporate them into the plan so it works it out in a way that there’s a middle ground for everybody. On that day, you want all the parties to be happy – so you can’t be selfish in your thinking.”
He identified some of the hurdles he and Betty must cross.
“The challenge is still the church – where and what we’re going to use for the reception. Funds are low and because it’s close to Christmas, it’s tougher. A lot of the places we called to get a separate venue are very expensive and my mum has invited a lot of people. I think we’re going to use the church for the ceremony and also use it for reception. The challenge now is how to turn the church after the service to a hall for reception – the tables, chairs and decorations—bearing in mind, it’s Winter – you don’t know what the weather will be like outside so where do we keep people for the meantime while the transformation takes place? That’s the challenge but a solution will come as long as you’re looking for it,” he said.
Chinedu and Betty have not left out the “Asoebi”, a must in Nigerian weddings nowadays.
“The whole Asoebi thing has been covered by my mum and Betty. We have also covered what we will be changing into after the wedding – traditional attire – the food is covered – my aunt is doing that. We have a list of the drinks but haven’t started to buy yet. Betty has bought her Tiara. She’s going out next week to get her wedding dress. We’ ve got her wedding band already because it came with the engagement ring as a set, but we still have to buy mine,” he explained further.
According to Chinedu, some aspects of the Bridal Party have been settled and some require more time.
“Cars are covered. The bridal party is in West London because the church is in West London. Everyone is saying, ‘dress close to the church’ and that’s what we’ll do. We’re going to book hotels but I’m not booking any hotel room for the bride’s maids – they should make their way to the church at the appointed time. But I am booking a room in a hotel close to the church for the bride and her maid of honour. My mum needs a room too so does Betty’s dad who will be giving her away,” he said.
Chinedu and Betty have chosen a design for their card and mailed it back to the printers. But the icing on the cake is the cake itself. Two experts are bidding for it.
“A woman from Wales is supposed to be doing the cake but I have just got a text from my sister suggesting another person – she says the woman’s makes good and delicious cakes, so the two will have to bring a quotation and list of ingredients.”
The video and photography are not causing headaches but the couple must decide when the coverage starts.
“We’ll like the whole thing filmed from when we’re getting ready but that’s a cost that I can’t afford. So we may keep the memory in our mind and actually let the recording start from when the ceremony starts in the church,” said Chinedu, a high earning test analyst, currently struggling with his income after a-six-month unemployment.
The situation is even more challenging because his would-be wife doesn’t have a job yet. However, some of the bills are being picked up by family members, especially his mum.
Another aspect of the planning is ‘choosing your gifts,’ a common practice in the West, that Nigerians would laugh at.
“Gift list were created by stores to help, because people normally go and buy things like – Irons, kettles, Tv, pillows you name it. The newly married couples tend to end up with ten kettles, five Irons, seven microwaves, and what are you doing to do with all that? What people do now is to go to a store and select what they need and put the reference number into cards. People go there and pick from the list of items you’ve chosen so you don’t end up with the ten kettles and five micro waves,” he explained.
In Nigeria, couples can end up with over 20 food warmers. But in the end, it’s the marriage rather than wedding that counts.
“What you’re wearing is good, the decorations and the gifts are good. But they’re all bonuses not a must have,” Betty, who just re-entered the room with a plate of curried rice, smartly concluded.