So I promised to write a post on the rather box office breaking Nigerian movie "The Wedding Party". Not because I'm a movie critic, but because the subject was one quite close to my heart and I could relate with a few of the experiences.
You probably can tell already that the subject is Inter-Ethnic marriages and initially when I started blogging, I thought that's what my entire blog would be about. Not close, but at least I have a dedicated section for that - Inter-Ethnic Love Stories
So this movie, was about Dunni Coker and Dozie Onwuka's wedding and all the intricacies surrounding the wedding. Of interest to me, was the fact that Dunni was Yoruba and Dozie was Igbo. So this was an inter-ethnic Wedding.
It reminded me of some of the issues that are likely to come even when planning such wedding and how it could potentially cause conflict! So using my experience as well, let me share some of what I noticed.
1. The Mother-of-the-Day Outfits
If you searched online stores for 'mother of the bride/ groom' outfits, you'd probably find the typical skirt/dress suit with a hat. Or maybe a dress. And that works in many western countries. Nigerian mothers however are so particular about their outfits.
I remember someone asking me during our wedding planning if my mum and Tee's mum would wear the same outfit for the white wedding. I laughed in my head, knowing it to be near impossible. At the very least, they could colour co-ordinate. Being Igbo my mum had to proudly wear an Igbo blouse and tie a double wrapper around her waist, similar to what Dozie's mum wore in the movie. Tee's mum obviously would wear an Iro and Buba - like Dunni's mum. And such buba will often fall off their waist and need to be re-adjusted. It's all part of the fun. You'll also notice how their friends had to wear similar outfits as them.
I've seen cases where the mums wear similar outfits, but in inter-ethnic weddings that's pretty rare. The men aren't often too keen. They could both wear an agbada or a suit, and you wouldn't be able to tell who was Igbo and who was Yoruba.
2. The Food
Food they say is the life of a Nigerian party isn't it? The party shakers kind of dancers at a Nigerian wedding party may say it's the music, but still, food is super key!
No surprises then how much trouble Dunni's favourite panla stew almost caused. At our wedding, Tee and I decided to use one caterer/food vendor. But obviously knowing it was going to be such a mixed crowd we had to be careful of the selections. So there was the general rice and other foods both and/or neutral kind of guests could eat. Then there was the certain Igbo soups that Igbo people would typically request for. We also made sure that we had a few traditional Yoruba dishes. All good? So we thought.
Both mothers wouldn’t exactly have it. While my mom still arranged an additional cooler of certain Igbo foods, Tee's mum did same - bringing in extra Yoruba kind of food! Interesting.
In the movie, we see how food was such an issue. Mrs Coker, aka Tin Tin fired the caterer Dunni had arranged and had to hire Iya Michael who, though not too sophisticated her food was amazing! Mrs Onwuka scrunched her nose at this food however and said to the wedding co-ordinator "under no circumstances must my guests be served that rubbish". Too bad her guests didn't like her very western selection of dishes. If she had gone with traditional Igbo foods at the least, that would even have been a winner.
Oh and that reminds me, garden eggs and kola nut are such a huge part of Igbo weddings. But Tee and I managed to miss that out. My dad had to say to the best man 'the one thing missing is kola'. With an inter-ethnic wedding planning, you need to bear all these details in mind!
3. The Music
In order of importance at Nigerian weddings, right after food is music? Or maybe before food for those who really do care. But you probably think music is a universal language and there shouldn’t be any issues in an inter-ethnic marriage? Wrong.
I personally couldn't be bothered, and I was quite happy with having just a DJ. Tee however insisted that we had to have a band. This might be a personal preference but I really do think it's very much related to him being Yoruba. I mean, the band was like 3 times more the price of a DJ. But yet, just a band wouldn't be sufficient so we had to have both. Yoruba people quite like live music.
Relating it to the movie. Do you recall the scene where the parents of the couple had to dance in? I was pretty surprised that I picked this up. When Mr and Mrs Onwuka danced in, they had a DJ playing the song "Ada Ada". All good. But when Mr and Mrs Coker - Tin Tin and Bam Bam were about to enter, it was swapped to a live bad playing 'awon eyin temi'. This was a favourite scene for many people and I need to say that evn Tee was super excited at that scsne, but I couldn't quite relate.
And even if both parties agree to stick to just a DJ or band you will need to consider the kind of music. At a recent wedding we attended, Tee was sensitive enough to notice that the Igbo elderly people hadn't quite gone on the dance floor at all. He had to find an Igbo popular song for the DJ to play, and like magic - that got them to the floor!
4. Paying for the Wedding
Now this one is tricky. Today, the family of most couples seem to plan together and jointly pay for the wedding. But as I understand it. In traditional Yoruba settings, the bride's family pays for the wedding. But in a traditional Igbo setting, the groom's family pays for the white wedding.
So you will note that Dunni's family seemed to pay for this wedding, and then we had that scene about the bounced cheque and the cake - apparently the Coker's were kind of broke, but they couldn't by any chance let the Onwuka's know!
This difference can spark misunderstandings if not well managed. The brides family may not be so wealthy and will like to do the wedding to their standard, while the groom's may expect a lavish one (or vice versa).
That's some of the things I picked out. It was a pretty good movie, that definitely got people excited.
So, I can only speak from my wedding and the very few inter ethnic ones I have attended. But what's your experience. Either in planning one, having one yourself, attending one or simply being a guest at a wedding different from that of your primary ethnic group. Any surprises, good observations or shocks?
Any if you've seen The Wedding Party, what did you think of it? What was your favourite scene? And how do you feel about a Part 2! I'm looking forward to the growing family and I'll be on the look out for other inter-ethnic vibes I spot! You can see the movie on Netflix if you haven't! It was shown at the Toronto Film Festival to a diverse audience so even if you're not Nigerian, I'm sure you will have a good laugh.
pS: Life Imitates Art!? You know that Dunni and Dozie are getting married in real life! And yes, it's really an inter ethnic one. Dunni (Adesua) is from the Edo part of Nigeria and Dozie (Banky) is Yoruba!