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  • Writer's pictureTuba

Tales of a Zambian wedding

Zambian weddings are communal. No matter how self-sufficient you are as a couple, how many months out you’ve planned, people will help you. They want to, they expect to, and it’s beautiful!

From “How much can I contribute?” to “What gift would you like?” to “What do you need from me?” I was surprised at how far the help stretched. Friends of my sisters, colleagues of my cousins and churchmates of our parents were ready and available to help.

What a thing!

The flip side, however, is that a few couples tend to expect this help, with almost a sense of entitlement, demanding a “minimum amount” and forcing people to form “committees” (how did we collectively decide on that word??) to help fund the wedding as opposed to seeing that help for what it is: a kind gesture that is nice to have and not at all a must. I can understand it, though, weddings are EXPENSIVE! If we purchased a bond with the money we invested in our wedding activities, we’d have a nice healthy portfolio. Alas, it made us happy to spend this, I always wanted a big wedding… but my mum wanted it bigger.

You see, we invited 400 guests to our wedding! That’s double the normal amount of guests at a regular wedding. Ours was far from regular, though, we are both last borns to much older parents with older siblings who hadn’t had a family wedding in about a decade on both ends. We were the wedding Guinea pig.

While this was welcome and generally helpful, a communal wedding means people will have opinions on EVERYTHING. The wording on the cards, the venue, the dress, the timing, the entrance, EVERYTHING!

I learnt that it’s best to just agree and then not do that thing (Teeheehee) because, at the end of the day, the wedding is more about the bride than anyone else (seriously, at some weddings, I can’t even tell the groom apart, let alone remember what he looked like after the day).

It was also a time of self-discovery for me. I learnt that I am totally self-absorbed and only care about me, myself and I, the most. How do I know this? The shock I felt every time someone offered an unsolicited opinion or advice. It has NEVER crossed my mind to be that invested in someone else’s wedding, honestly, not even my bestie (love you girl!) got that kind of intrusion from me.

Do you want the cards to be delivered by doves or only be accessible by writing 10 lines of code??? Okay, bride! It’s your day! Alas, the communal nature of Zambian weddings means that everyone has an opinion about how your big day should go. This is genuinely something I was not prepared for.

Let this not make you think my wedding was dictated by others. It ended up being ONE HUNDRED PERCENT to my dreams and specs (okay, 99 percent, there was one thing I compromised on, but it was a small, inconsequential part and I wasn’t even there to witness it, and the videographer didn't even capture it).

I knew in 2017, (while super single) what colours would be at my wedding (champagne gold), I had a vague list of bridesmaids, venues both in Johannesburg and Zambia and an idea of the dress I wanted. So, when I finally got engaged to the absolute love of my life and had to plan our wedding in six months (it wasn’t shot gun, we just really wanted to be together), I knew I had to go off what I had been manifesting the past 7 years and use that as my planing base.

And so began the most organized time of my life! I began by contacting my financial coach to help streamline my wedding planning Excel sheet because she’s the best at spreadsheets. We colour-coded it to show progress at various points and it had EVERYTHING: the kitchen party budget, the wedding budget, the songs for the DJ to play and the live band to sing(yes, I curated our ENTIRE playlist), the full program for the MC, the full names of our bridal party and the gift ideas I had for them.

First stop: Asking my bridesmaids and matron to officially be a part of my wedding. I did this the day I got traditionally engaged and over the next couple of days too in the cutest way possible; with cupcakes from Shugaland! I really wanted our wedding to be a personal, intimate affair (with 400 people, I know, I know🤣) but we didn’t need to have strangers playing the important roles so we carefully curated our wedding party and vendors list.

My bridal party consisted of my older sister Engineer Chembo (matron of honour), my best friend Chilando(chief bridesmaid), my darling Ngoza (bridesmaid), my other older sister Ndasye (bridesmaid) and my oldest niece, Salifyanji who was also a bridesmaid. I gushed over them so much on our wedding website, so head over there to see exactly what they mean to me. But please come back, because this blog is still going on.

The wedding MC is a long-time friend of mine from Johannesburg. Mpumelelo, popularly known as Lolo is a seasoned actor, comedian, voice-over artist, writer and of course EXCEPTIONAL MC. He flew in from Johannesburg on the Friday before the wedding and apparently even helped set up the decor the night before 🤣🤣 what a guy! Lolo is open and available for all international and local gigs, please book him! He was such a hit, managing a crowd of 350+ of varying demographics and still making everyone laugh. Fun fact: I actually didn’t want any comedy at my wedding, I just wanted someone to manage the program because the trajectory from Facebook comedian to Wedding MC in Zambia has unfortunately made for some very poorly managed wedding programs rife with inappropriate jokes.

The music:

I wanted to walk down the aisle to a live band, but I wanted my sister and sister-in-law with their angelic voices (nobody tell them I said this about them) to sing for me. And that’s exactly how we had it. The live band, Mofunky Sounds, was a close connection of my brothers, and so they were very accommodating of my requests, even allowing my brother to play the bass guitar while I walked down to a rendition of Leona Lewis’s “Moment like this” sang by my sisters. My Dad also played the rhythm guitar while my mum sang “God Will Take Care of You”, a song she sings at all my siblings weddings. The live band was such a BREEZE to work with. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions and they more than delivered on the day of.

The photography was done by none other than Peter of Larts Creations. He photographed my family and I when my mum was being honoured by the (now thankfully defunct) Minster of religious affairs (don’t laugh, new international readers, Zambia really had such a ministry 🤣) Anyway, I digress, but my mum was being honoured for her work in the Kingdom of God and Peter was on hand to capture the memories in November 2020. I loved his work so much and told him he would do my wedding photography, I just needed to find a groom. Upon my traditional engagement in October 2022, I hit him up and told him to prepare himself for May 2023. May came by and Peter was indeed the media person for both the kitchen party and wedding and what a vibe!! I didn’t think it possible, but he has actually improved his skill since 2020 and the creative direction he gave was IMPECCABLE! Check out the gallery at the end of this for some of his work. (He also photographed us for our 6 monthiversary shoot).

The groom was courtesy of MiG 33 (remember that era of social media??) and he was very accommodating of all my requests. This is why he also got absolutely everything he wanted to incorporate into our wedding to make it just as special to him as it was to me. He can write his own piece on how and why he chose our wedding venue, the menu, his groomsmen, how he danced with ALL his niblings and honoured his lifelong friend by getting him to make my engagement ring and our wedding bands. Alas, he is not a writer so THIS is the version of our wedding that will be recorded in history 🤣🤣🤭.

I now have no more wedding planning left in me until my niece’s wedding. But she’s only 20 and doesn’t like boys like that so I think we have some time🤣.

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