Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Congratulations Kyura and Inno Part 3: Almost Ready to Say I Do

I was amused. That was not the reaction he was going for, but there it was: amusement. The pastor stood at the front of the church admonishing the bride and groom. "What time did I say to be at the church?" "And what time is it now? All heads turned to look at the clock. "He has got to be kidding," I thought. But he wasn't. Stern and lecturing, he went on. And I was so, so very amused. The wedding had started ten minutes late. Ten minutes! This was Nigeria. In any other context, probably even any other wedding, ten minutes late would be early. But Kyura and Innocent are polite, good natured people and were so happy just to be there at the altar, they let him lecture, nodded some conciliatory yes, sir's and waited patiently for him to finish so they could get on with the wedding.

It wasn't really Kyura's fault we'd arrived late anyway; we'd set off from the assistant pastor's guest house in due time, but friends and family needed more pictures, and then a series of transit vans bringing guests from town had blocked the way from the pastors' yards to the church yard, so we couldn't get to the church.

Day 3: The morning had begun like any wedding morning. The bride woke early and the requisite flock descended on her with all the plumes of fancy necessary to transform her and themselves into momentary oddities of perfection: the hair stylist, the make-up artist, the maid of honor, the photographer, and all the helper-friends. We burst into the serene morning and bustled about the room and yard helping, getting out of the way, getting in the way, getting beautiful, getting excited. The hairdresser started her work first, finger-rolling Kyura's long extensions and pinning them into tight pin curls.

Hairdresser finger-curling and twisting the hair for pinning
Adding the finishing touches

The make-up artist wasn't far behind, and once the hair was finished, the make-up could begin. No electricity, so Kyura sat near the window for the best light. Contouring is very in in Nigeria right now, so even though Kyura's not much of a heavy make-up wearer generally, for her wedding, she was getting the full contouring treatment. Her Maid of Honor was getting the same make-up treatment outside. For someone who doesn't do contouring make-up or watch YouTube instructional videos on it, this was quite a scene to behold. Sometimes their faces were green, sometimes yellow. Frequently, there were harsh lines and strange spots. But as the artists worked their magic and their spongy blenders, faces reappeared from the wavy lines and strange colors; slightly altered faces, but still pretty. The room didn't have a mirror. The make-up artist had brought a small one of her own for Kyura, and someone had fetched a large mirror shard from the house for others. Someone turned to me, "Are you going to put on make-up, too?" "I already did mine." Like I said, I don't contour, and it was unlikely anyone here was going to know the right combinations of colors, or even have the right colors, for my face. I was satisfied with my usual powder, eyebrow pencil and mascara.

Contouring the bride's cheeks

Maid of Honor getting her makeup done outside

All of this doing-up took several hours. In the meantime, the photographer and videographer slid in and out of the commotion, capturing moments for posterity and designing beautiful settings to showcase important elements of the day. I trailed the photographer and tried to make myself useful, carrying things for her, holding things, and for a bit, using all my weight to pull a plastic-twine clothesline taut so she could get photos of the wedding dress hanging in the breeze without the dress's train dangling in the dirt of the dusty courtyard.

Photographer setting up a shot with the dress and bouquet

The church does not allow women to enter without their heads covered. Kyura, of course, had her veil. The guests would all have elaborate hair wraps. Kyura had someone collect a red-orange shawl from her old closet at her parents' house for me. One of her other friends wrapped it tight around my head for me, despite others' arguing that the church wouldn't turn me away if my head were bare. I had no desire to offend anyone or play my oyibo card like that. The Maid of Honor had a special hair piece with a little mini veil of its own. The silver tones in the white lace went perfectly with the silver beading on her long pink dress.

The Maid of Honor looks in the mirror while her hairpiece is adjusted

All of us friends, aside from the Maid of Honor, wore outfits out of the same matching fabrics as is the custom in Nigeria. The tailor made mine in advance, a fun 1960s-style tent dress that was nice and cool. Even while we were getting the bride and ourselves ready, the tailor was back at the house finishing dresses for wedding guests, whirling away on the treadle machine in a room next to the one that had been Kyura's up until last night.

Soon, we were all ready.

The bride.

Kyura ready for her wedding

And her friends.

(I particularly love this photo because the brilliant photographer turned the camera at such an angle that I don't look like a giant freak.  Notice the window in the background; imagine if the picture were turned so that the window frame were level...)
It was time to go to the church!

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