Friday, December 4, 2009

'Tis the Get Married

Today I was chatting with one of my colleagues about the blitz of wedding invitations that arrive every December.

"So Sarah, how many wedding invitations do you have for December?"

"Let me see...I have two on the 12th, two on the 19th, and one on the far."

"Well, I only have four: three on the 19th and one on the 26th." Then I joked, "Who are we to talk--we both got married in December!"

The main wedding season in Nigeria is during the dry season--simply because it's just a lot easier to plan a wedding when you know you can count on the weather being decent. So, the invitations start rolling in October through April.

It's funny, in the first 18 years of my life I can only remember going to two weddings. Now, not a month passes without at least one invitation. Why is that? Well, we're living in a metropolis of over one million people; we know a lot of people; but perhaps the biggest reason is simply that weddings here are huge social events involving many people who may not even know the couple.

Of the four invitations we have for December, I only vaguely know one of the grooms and none of the brides. How's that? For three of the couples, I'm closely connected to one of their relatives. This is standard protocol: you go to the wedding to show support for your friend as well as their extended family. It doesn't matter how many invitations are issued. There is no such thing as an RSVP or a limited number of place settings. By the way, 'RSVP' and a phone number appear on every invitation, but it doesn't mean RSVP. What I can gather is that you can contact this person if you have any questions; alternatively it could be the name of a prominent person who will be at the wedding. Or, as Nigerian jokers like to suggest: it stands for Rice and Stew Very Plenty--which is true.

When I was getting married, my Nigerian maid-of-honor came to my house and said, "Give me one of your invitations. I'm going to give it to my aunt." I thought that was strange since I didn't know the aunt, but now I know it to be a very normal thing.

Sometimes I get confused when I go to the U.S. One summer when I was driving around Iowa visiting churches, I heard about two weddings which were taking place in two families that I'm close to. In my mind I started trying to figure out how I could work the weddings into my itinerary. About a week later, I suddenly realized: I'm not invited--and that means something in the U.S.! In Nigeria, anyone can go to any wedding without receiving an invitation.

I don't go to every wedding I receive an invitation for, but I'll try to make it to a few this December in order to show support for my colleagues. I know my boys won't join me, but Lily never passes up a chance to go to a wedding.

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