If you live in Nigeria (Lagos to be precise), then an elaborate wedding party is not new to you. Elaborate wedding parties are a trademark Nigerian symbol. Lagosians in particular love to have a good time, and parties here are massive. In the words of Banky W: “Ain’t no party like the Lagos party!”
Former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, said in 2013 that more than ₦36 billion was spent annually by Lagos residents in organizing different social events popularly called Owambe. Planning a wedding is big business. From the decoration to the clothing, makeup, booking the right MC, and most importantly, the food. People plan for months, even years, for the big day.
I don’t attend parties often because they are exhausting. But in recent years, a lot of my closest friends have gotten hitched, and I owe it to other young people to share my experience as a certified wedding guest, starting with things to do before going to a wedding ceremony.
I learned this the hard way. It is possible to dress up to a wedding and return home without tasting any food. You arrive at the event dressed to the nines, hoping to have good fun and interact with other guests. The event has commenced with the MC chattering away, and everyone is mostly in full party mode. You see servers with trays of delicacies weaving their way through the tables, and your hopes are high. Your time is near. One hour has passed, and it begins to feel like you are invisible. Your confidence drops a notch, or in street parlance, Dem don fall your hand. You decide to handle the situation by calling a waiter. He responds with a nod, which means, “On my way back, I’ll come with your meal.”
Not only does your confidence return, but your anticipation rises too. Minutes later, this waiter returns, but not alone, and certainly not in your direction. He is led by a big woman with a humongous gele and earrings. She directs him to another table, and right before your eyes, the food goes to other guests. You try to make eye contact with the waiter, but he gives you the Oga no be my fault look.
Rice is gone, swallow is gone, small chops gone, but all the gods have blessed you with is a bottle of malt and table water. You have two options: call the attention of your friend the groom, or go home. You think back to how you could have prevented the situation by eating before leaving your home. Many times, the servers are not wicked, but they have instructions from their superior to serve a certain category of people that you do not belong to. It is worse if you are unfamiliar with the people at your table. They all might get served while you get left out. So brace yourself. Eat enough to hold your belly, but create space for if you are eventually served. And always remember, don’t be a glutton!
Determine what to contribute
Contributing what to bring along depends on your relationship. You can contribute by buying the asoebi, or getting a nice gift for the couple. Never assume that contributing amounts to breaking the bank. Be smart about what you feel is economical yet ideal. I love this Zenith Bank advert, which taught me a lesson on how ladies can be economical for a wedding.
Safeguard your vehicle
Parties that hold in secure environments are the best, but prepare for how to ensure your vehicle’s safety if that is not the case. Most parties leave you ‘settling’ street urchins, who help keep your car safe at a cost. Identify one who will keep an eye on your car while you party, and make sure to hold on to his payment until the ceremony is over. That way, he is indebted to you and will do everything to ensure your car’s safety. If you settle him before going in, your car will be forgotten, and he will be on to the next customer.
Don’t arrive too early
Why do you want to get to a Nigerian party early when you are not one of the organizers? If an party is scheduled to start at noon, plan to arrive two hours later. This advice is based on your role at the party. If you have a critical role to play at the event, you need to be early. If you get there too late, you might meet nothing (maybe the after-party, if that’s what you hope for).
Know your purpose
Many people attend a party without a clear goal in mind. Why would you dress up, leave your home, and drive to a wedding venue without being clear on your purpose? Guys who hit on multiple ladies at parties have a purpose. Some guests attend parties in the hope of meeting their spouse; others attend for the food. When you are clear on your goal, you will know which conversations to pursue.
Having a clear goal determines a successful outing or a flop, but you can always evaluate your purpose and re-strategize for your next party.
Despite these tips, remember to prioritize your fun at every party. Unwind and meet someone new, or get a new perspective on life.
You might be the reserved one, but you can get there and decide to gbe body because there is no party like Nigerian weddings.