Two weeks before I moved to West Africa, my amazing mom married my amazing stepdad. It was a lovely ceremony. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mom happier than when she married her soulmate. And truly, it was an honor to bear witness to the beautiful union. I was so grateful to be in attendance, even though I didn’t get to be the Best Man. (my stepdad chose his son. uh, talk about nepotism?!)
Two months later, I found myself in West Africa, taking a brief repose at my maison with my famille when my mère told me that there would être a marriage at our house in three days! (I cannot stop inserting French words into my English conversations. I do not apologize.) Naturally, I freaked out! I absolutely love weddings and love and family and celebrations. Like everything else I do, my family found my excitement to be hilarious and laughed at me for the next fifteen minutes.
The entire family came in from Lomé, the Baltimore of West Africa, for the weekend. Our compound has 13 people and 6 beds as it is, so brining in an additional 25 people and 0 beds posed a few logistical challenges. (Side note: of the 25 people who came to our compound, approximately 13 were babies who hate me.)
The Lomé clan also brought beaucoup de noise. Luckily, I spent one of the nights at my friend Sam’s house in Zafi, the Des Moines of West Africa! I had an amazing time at Sam’s sleepover, but it led to a few complications for the wedding day. Here are all the sitcom tropes fulfilled this weekend, in chronological order:
- It rained on wedding day. And not a pleasant drizzle… A full-blown thunderstorm. The water pressure of the storm was significantly better than that of my shower! (My shower is a bucket)
- An important guest almost couldn’t make it to the wedding. The night before the wedding, I rode my bike from Ahépé to Zafi, approximately 5 kilometers. I could have asked the amazing Peace Corps driver Alphonse to take me home the next morning, but I was instructed to be back at the house by 6am, so I didn’t want to disrupt his sleep. Because of the humongous rainstorm, biking home was not easy! But I made it in one piece.
- Someone got cold feet. I stepped in a puddle.
- Someone embarrassed themself. Me! Although the wedding was scheduled to start at 7am, the pre-festivities started as soon as I made it home. I was ushered into our parlor, where 15 people were waiting to congratulate the bride. Everyone was wearing their fanciest clothes, and I was wearing a college t-shirt that I had completely sweat through. Someone threw confetti that completely missed the bride and hit me. And because of the profuse sweating, the confetti stuck to me.
- A beautiful ceremony! The ceremony started when the groom lifted the bride’s veil and gave her one of the most tender hugs I have ever seen. The rest of the ceremony was in Éwé, a language I don’t understand, but I could tell that it was filled with love and happiness.
- Two people wore the exact same outfit. And I did not wear it better.
- Someone got drunk and made a weird speech. Even in Éwé, I can tell when someone shouldn’t be toasting the bride and groom!
- A very fancy meal was served. No, not steak and champagne; cow skin and sardines! For my first ever Sunday brunch in Africa, I was slightly let down. God, I miss Pamela’s.
- The party was ruined by drunk people and children. My host sister skinned her knee; two old women screamed until the other guests got annoyed. The party dissipated soon after. Although the noise didn’t!
- A chicken walked directly through the ceremony. Wait, sorry, that’s just a Togolese thing.
And here are some sitcom tropes I didn’t get to fulfill, even though I really wanted to!
- No one skydived and ended up in jail. Have mercy!
- No one said the wrong name at the altar. Although I really don’t know Éwé, so it’s possible.
- A mishap with the wedding dress! The bride looked absolutely beautiful, no wardrobe malfunctions necessary.
My favorite part of the wedding was how welcoming everyone was to all of the guests, including me! My family invited me to be in all of the group pictures and celebrate just like a Togolese guest. I did not get the memo that smiling in pictures is not really the norm. Other than that, I blend right in!