With Tracy’s in August, weddings have been a major source of conversation in the Weidert family. Therefore, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see an official Zambian wedding on Saturday night, when my friend Oliver extended an invitation one hour before showdown. I cancelled my dinner plans and put on my finest dress, which is not saying much, but interesting enough, even though it was a floor length Roxy bohemian dress, most of the Zambians thought I was wearing a traditional dress. Bonus points for musungu.
We arrived late, which was rather awkward, as we walked through the entrance just as the bridal party was making their grand entrance. Not to be mistaken for the traditional announcing of names done in American weddings… these bridesmaids and groomsmen had been rehearsing a dance for several weeks leading up to the big day. Little did I know that this was just the first of a series of dances, including several costume changes. Even the cutting of the cake was the accompanied by a bridal party performance. Thinking about my upcoming role as maid of honor and my propensity to get pulled aside in dance class for remedial help, I realized I would never be a very good Zambian bridesmaid. However, I have to say that there was one part of this ceremony that I especially appreciated. During the initial dancing entrance, guests would run up to the different bridesmaids and groomsmen and stuff money down their dresses and into their pockets I asked the purpose and was told it was to show appreciation. What do you think, Tracy? This could fund ‘Spring Break 2010’.
After an extremely long rant by the MC (not entirely sure what he was saying, as it was in Nyanja and only some was translated, but everyone was laughing), even more speeches began. All the while, I kept staring at the bride because she seemed rather unhappy for a newlywed. The first orator (her new uncle) said that ‘they hope to see a better version of her, now that she married his nephew. If she has problems, she should no longer go to her family – they are not her family anymore.’ Then the minister stood up and started talking about ‘if your husband says he is gone on ‘business’, it is not your place to assume the worst – you just have to assume that he is just providing for your family’. (Easier said than done – remember all the extramarital girlfriends I mentioned in an earlier blog?). The MC stood back up and made a joke about husbands and prostitution, and then it was the father of the bride’s turn. He went on to describe what a wife was…’wise, industrious, financial and economical’. Industrious was a reference to the work she would do to take care of the home, and the financial and economical referred to how she wasn’t supposed to spend a lot of money. Then he began with husband…’honorable, understanding, supportive’….and then I rolled my eyes and tuned out. Needless to say, the bride’s disposition began making a lot more sense.
During the final speech, crates of beer suddenly appeared and the real celebration began – this was very reminiscent of weddings at home – the men were just much better dancers.
I should also mention that the mother and father of the bride were in beautiful matching dresses. I laughed to myself when I first saw them, thinking about how my father wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a gown, let alone one that matched my mother. Then I was inspired…Mom and Dad – I am getting some custom-made. Do you have color preferences? I am thinking blue to compliment your eyes.