I recently got married. My wedding day was hectic. I expected waking up glowing, connecting the sound system to my favorite Hillsong song, and fill the whole house with its sounds. I would then walk out the door, lay my yoga mat on the freshly cut grasshopper-green grass and breathe in the crisp morning air with wisps of sun saying hello from behind the light-grey clouds. In perfect lotus pose, I would inhale with purposeful determination for the day ahead and exhale with the faith that everything would go without a hitch.
The morning of my wedding did not go as I had envisioned: sleepy bridesmaids were sprawled across floors and beds in deep sleep, five of them heavily exhausted after having just gone to bed an hour before. They had spent the entire night making flower arrangements, after a particularly cruel game of cat and mouse game with our decorator, who had over promised and under delivered.
I walked from room to room waking up groggy and irritated girls, as I contemplated what I would wear for the somewhat impromptu pre-wedding cultural ceremony my father had insisted be done by the groom’s family. The hair people came first and found me atop the outer canopy house wrapping the poles up with ribbon. I wanted to have a fun photo shoot in there before I left. I never did.
Soon after the cultural ceremony, I sat down to get my hair done. An hour later, the stylist had failed to create my desired style, in spite of a step by step YouTube video tutorial and pictures. I showed him pictures of an alternative style and he tried to adjust it until I broke down and ran away with what looked like a black furry kitten sleeping on my head. We were running late… an hour and half late!
Two days before the wedding, I had realized that, either my feet had gotten smaller or my wedding shoes had been too small in the first place. I did wear them and walked around in them when my mother brought them. But I don’t know what it was, I think I just wanted everything to be okay. And so I told myself they would do. They were as white as they should be, plain and old fashioned. They were not what I would have picked out for myself, but they were also classier than anything I tried to find around this town. The business of weddings is booming here, but it’s all mass- factory produced and unoriginal.
That morning, I ran out of the house, like a runaway bride, except this time I was running to the groom who was also exasperating himself out of his mind. His prophecy echoed through the thick cloudy air, “You will be late even on our wedding day.” It haunted me as it hit the panes of my hard beating heart. The insoles my sister had bought me would wear out or shift and by the end of the day I would literally be slipping out of my shoes.
By the time, we drove out of the gate, I had burst into tears, and at one point threatened to throw myself and my bouquet through the windshield.
Writing this, I see now, that I could write several series out of this day and the days leading up to it. But right now, my tips for a bride.
Tip #1 – If you are like me and do not like to “disturb”, to ask for too much. Your first instinct is to dial down your special status as a bride because you are so afraid of being a bridezilla. You are the kind of person who disappears into walls and never calls attention to themselves. Well, to you i say, FUSS. Forget about not being a bridezilla. Be a bride who knows what you want. Do not wait for people to know what you want or to get you want you want. You are uniquely YOU. It’s been said many times. Well, believe it.
Tip #2 – Choose a dress that you LOVE.
Tip #3 – Try on your wedding shoes several times. Have alternatives, most probably wedges or even cute flats.
Tip #4 – Have an exact hair trial, with the same stylist who will be doing it on your day. I had my hair trial done months before my wedding by a different stylist in the same salon and somehow I believed that the new stylist would understand the concept. It was pretty simple, with videos and pictures and faux hair too, but I guess, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong on a wedding day.
Tip #5 – Have someone, who is not emotionally invested, to take care of things like bridesmaids’ dresses, breakfast, lunch, salon, meeting and sleeping arrangements and to also take care of the parents (especially emotional mothers) among a host of other things.
Tip #6 – If you get an inkling, a hiccup, a skipped heartbeat, your first doubt, that your service provider is not what they are claiming to be, or will not provide what they are promising, LISTEN to it. Do not leave any space for doubt. Because as soon as you pick them, if they are by any standards like most Ugandan service providers I met, they will treat you as if they are doing you a favor, as they walk jauntily away with your millions.
Tip #7 – Remember to keep a balance, that elusive balance. It is your wedding day, but there is a marriage forthcoming, spend one on one time with your husband.
Tip #8 – Care about lighting. Do a setup trial.
Tip #9 – Create a detailed program for the wedding day and ensure that everyone who needs to know it, knows it. Also, make some time allowance for things to not go as planned.
Tip #10 – Be aware that even with all this done above, you might encounter some challenges.
Tip #11 – Surround yourself with people who love you and who are happy to be around. Your entourage is extremely important.
Tip #12 – Forget about pleasing people who are there to make sure that they are not pleased.
Tip #13 – Write your speech. Let it be true and honest. Remember to thank each and everyone who needs to thanked. Therefore, take time to prepare this speech, a month before the wedding and dust it up, two days before. Make very sure that it is accessible when you need it.
Tip #14 – You need a handkerchief. Those glaring lights and staring eyes will make your sweat glands work.
Tip #15 – Download all the music you need, put it on a flash drive and have your most dedicated friend stand over the DJ’s head like a hawk. Never trust the DJ to do his work unsupervised.
Tip #16 – Have a team of super-talented and more importantly supportive, dedicated sisters like mine. One of my sisters, B, even though she was totally swamped and stretched thin by the end of my wedding, she was the God-sent ever present support and help I needed. She was there everywhere and whenever I needed her to be. She was a chief organizer, chief planner and at the same time committed assistant. She was the one person who would take the unspoken SOSs and hushed instructions for whenever I needed something done, whether I knew i needed it or not. I was watching a motivational video by T.D Jakes and he said: ‘Nothing just happens. Nothing just happens.’
Sometimes you are in a new place and a stranger smiles at you. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong and then it goes right. Sometimes, just when you need a friend, you have one. Sometimes things don’t go perfectly on your wedding, to remind you to focus on the more important things.
Tip #17 – Have faith. It had been a rainy season for the past two months, and we (the groom and the bride who chose to believe in what we believed in) decided not to have a tent. It was thundering on the day before the wedding. In spite of everyone’s well-deserved fears, we still did not get an emergency tent. It did not rain.
Furthermore, a few days to the wedding and even after, God provided everything that we needed and gave us left overs too as He had promised.
Tip #18 – Be grateful to be alive, to experience your wedding to the man you love, to have your closest and dearest family, in good health and happiness to witness your union is the best wedding present you can ever be gifted with. That to me was the biggest reason to be happy. Thank you so much God.