Metropole Magazine

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26 Nov Written by  Ladi Opaluwa

Portrait of a Modern Bride

A look at 21st Century weddings

The wedding day is a lady’s most enduring fantasy. She sees herself walking down the aisle in an extravagant, beautiful, white gown, the congregation rising in reception, stretching over one another for a glimpse of the bride. From that royal entry to the exchange of vows and the throwing of bouquet, the entire act is replayed constantly in a series of daydreams spanning several years. Eventually, she gets a chance to re-enact this fabulous show in reality.

The transition from singlehood to matrimony begins weeks preceding the wedding. Her name is gradually effaced. To her prospective in-laws, she is fondly called ‘our wife’. Everyone else hails her Amarya, Iyawo, and the variations of ‘bride’ in other languages. It is all exciting. A lot of privileges accrue to the bride. Her name when mentioned, soften the hearts of different committee members and gatekeepers; it opens the door to the cache of meat and drinks.

More, she has such pricey jewelleries, shoes and bags, and other fancy accessories in abundance that it makes impulsive thieves of guests. And the best part: she gets to buy a ridiculously expensive gown to wear for just a day, nay, a quarter of a day, the stuff of Hollywood stars. She gets to appoints unto herself a supporting actor in person of the chief bridesmaid. She is the lead. There are several other young ladies at her service, all volunteers, who will eventually make up her train.

The attention lavished on the bride is so enormous that it inspires understandable envy amongst her maids-of-honour. When one of the ladies begins to rant about her own wedding coming up towards the end of the year or early next year- no date set- she is not trying to steal the limelight, it is only an attempt to get out of the shadow of the bride.

The number of cameras focused on the bride on the day of her traditional wedding asserts her newfound fame. Before mobile phones with camera devices became ubiquitous, there were usually about three cameramen. Now every guest is a photographer with their devices ready to capture all her moves and moods, and what a mood she is in. Regardless, the photographers ask her to pose for the paparazzi, click, click. In minutes her pictures are all over the internet.

Her dressing room has the ambience of the backstage of a fashion show. It is crowded and cluttered. After her first outing, her blooming headgear is plucked and discarded, she is undressed and dressed in a rush, her makeup is wiped and redone to match the next traditional attire. As the day progresses she becomes increasingly touchy. She yells at elders and anyone in view without getting a reprimand. Everyone submits to her tantrums.

Definitely, planning and executing a wedding that beats her fantasy, with some extra details fit into every bit, is a task that undermines her mental and physical wellbeing. She hasn’t eaten anything solid in two days, has slept only a few hours. She is fatigued and becomes feverish. It is the eve of her wedding. An emergency warfare prayer session is held; an aged uncle in the village is suspect. Eventually, she is revived with glucose and analgesic.

Saturday morning before her appearance in a mermaid-inspired design, she has internalized the notion of her superiority over everyone else present at the occasion, a legitimate A-list. She is encouraged in her belief. Prelude to giving her a word of instruction people say: ‘It’s your day, smile’, ‘it’s your day, dance’, ‘it’s your day, relax’. She is the sole star in this show. The groom? Not as relevant. He stands there, waiting for forever. Here comes the bride. And then she becomes a wife.

After the reception, all her attendants withdraw their services. She has to deal with her enormous fairy-tale gown. There is no getting rid of it immediately; there are farewells to be made. She walks about holding up the gown herself, hence the image of the wandering princess.

Expectedly, a few things have gone wrong with the day, least of which is the realization upon viewing pictures from the event much later that her entire eyelid was unflatteringly coated in metallic colour eye-shadow. After the pump and excitement and the guests have all departed, she settles into the routine of matrimony. It is a miracle she doesn’t enter into a state of sadness that might be termed post-marital depression.