My First Court Wedding Experience
It has been a while since I last wrote about my experience.
I am particularly excited about this episode.
So last week, I got a call from my friend inviting me for her court wedding slated to happen that week’s Friday. To say the least, I was super excited. I was excited for her and I was also excited to attend a court wedding for the first time in my twenty-something years on earth. Don’t judge me now! I am sure you have not also attended one.
I was not so sure whether the time would align with my schedule, as I already had some things lined up for that day. A day later or so, she called me to ask if I could make it for 7 am. That time worked perfectly for me. The important engagement I had was in the evening.
On Friday, after my devotion, I started getting ready. After dressing up, I requested for a ride. I was with my phone monitoring the driver. The guy was just going in circles. It seemed like uncle did not know the way. I had to call him and agreed to meet him up at the bus stop. I was already behind schedule. It was about 5 minutes to 7 am. From my place to the bus stop is very trekkable but I had to take a bike. The bike man still asked for 100 Naira. Well, I expected it. I did not even argue. Na me no wan trek na.
I entered the cab and the ride started. Trust me, it was a quiet ride. When we got to the Federal Marriage Registry, Ikoyi, the driver was not allowed to park beside the premises. I was to pay him 1,700 Naira for the ride but he did not have change and because we delayed, the security guys or whoever they were would not have it. They were already exchanging hot words. We had to drive forward. I suggested a transfer. He gave me his bank details. When I called out his name, he was kinda surprised. He was like people never got the pronunciation right. I told him I am Edo. Somehow, I kinda pronounced the name on purpose. You know na, familiarity things. I alighted and walked back to the court premises.
As I walked gently, a woman accosted me. She wanted me to patronize her. According to her, she was a makeup artist. I tried to tell her that I was not interested. She was still begging me. I made her understand that I was already on makeup. She started pleading with me, that she had not made any money and that I should give her something. Ahhhh… What could a good girl do? I had 1,000 Naira notes in my bag. I decided to give her 500 Naira. I asked her if she had change. She replied in the affirmative and gave me 500 Naira while I gave her 1,000 Naira. I continued walking. When I got to the court premises, I called my friend. She told me they were behind, and that they were walking down. I just stood by the side while I watched the small queue of people trying to gain entrance into the court.
A few minutes later, they arrived and we exchanged pleasantries. I had not noticed the other person with them. When I saw him, I was so excited. He was a former colleague. I hugged him. Jokingly, the groom said that I did not hug him the way I hugged the other guy. *laughs* What could I do now that he was getting married? He is taken and hugs should be carefully done *laughs*
We got to the security guy at the gate and I think they presented a paper to him or so. He asked if we were the only ones attending the wedding. The groom responded that others will come later but we are the witnesses- referring to my ex-colleague and I. It was even there I knew that I was going to be one of the witnesses. Oshey!!! Witnessing things!
Maybe I expected the court to be some fine building. I mean, it is Ikoyi we are talking about here. It was what Nigerians would refer to as just there. There was a canopy outside, a storey building, about three bungalows of which some were people’s shops. There was even a wedding gown shop perhaps for brides who would want to rent one, then a restaurant from where they played music almost non stop. I was really not impressed with the way it looked. We were told to sit at the witnesses section while the couple sat under the canopy outside. At about 8 am we got there, the court was already a beehive of activities.
My ex-colleague and I sat next to each other, observing the happenings in our new environment- The couples would go to a place to register and then pay an amount of money. I think 3,000 Naira. I am not so sure. I was just an observer. They would be given a book and a certificate holder and then called inside. Afterwards, they would go to another building, then come out for pictures. We were there for more than two hours. Frankly, I did not expect it to take that long. Later on, my friend told us how there was a misplacement of documents and how they were trying to sort it out.
My ex-colleague and I got talking while we waited for the couple to give us a signal. We discussed marriage and weddings and all. He told me about his elder sister’s wedding and how her husband got angry on her wedding day and was about leaving because of the bride price demands. Haba! After the huge bride price list, he was still told to bring another sum of money again on that day. Igbo kwenu! They are Igbos.
As much as it is a general belief that bride price in Igbo land is expensive, I still believe that the respective families also have a role to play. The groom that wanted to leave his wedding is from Edo State.
In Edo state, the bride price is relatively cheap but then again, it still depends on the family. Sometimes the bride price itself can be as low as 2,000 Naira or even 1,000 Naira ( they might have increased it now. You know, everything is on the increase. ) but the things that will accompany it can run into hundreds of thousands. Every tribe has its own way and style. I may need to know how it is done in my place- Igarra. I will have to call my dad for that. Kindly leave a comment if you want to know how much bride price is in Igarra.
Back to my story. He also told me of a lady who had to plan with her fiance to get pregnant because the bride price was too expensive. The lady and her fiance had just finished service two years before and wanted to get married. The guy had not worked for up to two years. After seeing the list and the girl’s family was not bulging, they decided to play a fast one on them. She got pregnant and according to their plan, her fiance was to act like he was no longer interested. Na her people come dey beg o. It was quite a story. I do not support premarital sex let alone pregnancy outside wedlock. It is still a sin, however. But that was what expensive bride price made the duo do. They were finally allowed to get married.
As we sat, I watched many couples come into the court premises. I saw many gowns to last a lifetime. Some wore full wedding gowns while others wore short white gowns. Others did not bother themselves with white gowns. A gown is a gown jare, so long as oruka ti do wo no. Most of the grooms wore suits. I had a lot to admire about the brides. They fed me with variety.
As an observer that I was, I saw one oyinbo(white) woman and a Nigerian or at least a black guy who were there to get married too. Being oyinbo was not the problem. Guys, she was looking way older, more like in her 50’s! She wore a white shirt and a white Caribbean skirt. The guy was in white native attire. Oshey! Abroad we must go! *laughs* I still wonder why they fall for that kinda arrangement though. Did I hear you say it could be love? Taaaa! We know our people jare. The other oyinbo woman I saw was with an older black man. From the look of things, they were okay to be married. You will still come and say that age is a number. Okay, I have heard you! I sha took a picture of them. But you know, I can’t share it with you.
I really admire the simplicity of a court wedding. It is by far the cheapest and most stressless form of weddings in this part of the world. I was gathering experience for mine. I would really love to wear a jumpsuit for mine or a well-tailored corporate white gown with a nice fascinator. I saw a couple of gowns I liked. But one stood out for me. It was a corporate cream coloured gown. I had to take a picture of the lady from where I was sitting. Thanks to zooming and pretending to take a selfie. I also saw a bride in a jumpsuit. It looked good on her but I felt it was tight.
Finally, it got to the reason why we were there in the first place- to be witnesses. We followed the bride to where the wedding and exchange of rings would be done. The woman who did the joining sat on a chair, with a table in front of her while we sat behind the table. My ex-colleague sat first, the groom next, then the bride and finally yours truly. That was the arrangement the woman gave us. She explained the law to them and the implication of falling short of the law. Bigamy is an offence punishable by law- 5 years imprisonment. She asked them if they wanted to go ahead and they responded in the affirmative. The couple was asked to stand while they took their vows. She recited the vows to their hearing with little or no emotions. She must have recited those exact vows over a thousand times. It flowed from her effortlessly and nonchalantly. They exchanged vows and then rings and she asked them to kiss *smiles*. Frankly speaking, she practically told them how to do almost everything including how they are to place their hands on each other before they kissed. The marriage certificate got signed by four of us. After that, the woman told us to sing for the newlyweds. The song that came handy was: Your marriage shall be your blessing…
When the ceremony was over, the woman asked us to show appreciation with whatever we had. I mean, it is her job! Well, I brought out a 500 Naira note, same with my fellow witness. The couple brought a 1,000 Naira note. She asked if it was from both of them. She then said they should add to it because it was too small. The guts! Guys, we need to stop this entitlement mentality. It is so Nigerian of us. *rolls eyes*
We went outside afterwards for a photoshoot. In the court premises, you will find different photographers. Just book one. There is this background where couples take pictures. You take a number then wait for your turn. When it was our turn, we took pictures with the couple. There were what you will call agberos within and outside the premises who would follow you and pray for you; how you will give birth to children blah… blah… blah… You know what that means. Just be ready to give them money or keep a straight, no-nonsense face and walk as fast as your legs can carry you.
We left the court premises before noon and stopped at The Place restaurant in Surulere. The restaurant really looked good. The couple treated us to whatever we wanted. I opted for fried and jollof rice with chicken and salad in a take-away pack. I was not ready to eat at that time. I sat while the trio ate. I bought a slice of cake there. A slice of cake was 800 Naira. For what?! It was after getting home and eating it that I realised it did not worth it. However, the rice tasted really nice.
I alighted at Stadium Bus stop while the trio continued their journey. I took a bike to Fadeyi Bus stop. From Fadeyi Bus stop, I took another bike home.
What a wonderful day!
We have come to the end of this episode of Life of a Budding Lagosian. I hope you enjoyed my story. Kindly leave your comments below. Don’t forget to comment on whether or not you want my next blog to be about Igarra’s bride price. See ya!