Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Kenya Wedding Album

You may remember from the Jamhuri Day post that my house-mates and I were invited to attend the wedding of the son of Barbara's boss, Josephine. Well last Saturday was the big day.  So big, that I took 226 photos.  While I won't put all of them here, I thought I would put enough to walk you through the day, a la photo album style.  Let's give it a go..

Andrea and I waiting for the wedding to start.  
The invitation said the start was at 10am, so we arrived at 10.45am.
The wedding actually started at noon.  You may be able to tell a bit from this photo that the church was quite modern with capacity for around 1000.  When the wedding started the church was about 1/2 full, but by the end it had mostly filled up.
The flower girls and rind bearers.
We were surprised by how Western the wedding was in format and style.  There was a typical procession of bridesmaids and groomsmen in matching colour-schemes.
One difference was that instead of playing music during this part, there was an MC narrating the activity.
Waiting for the bride, part 1.
We were surprised that most of the 600 some-odd guests were women.
Waiting for the bride, part 2.
Here comes the bride..
Praying for the couple.
The ceremony begins.
The service was in English and included a 20 sermon, exchange of vows and rings and blessing by the parents.
This is a rare unobstructed photo as you will see from the next one...
Cameras cameras everywhere.
Yes, catching glimpses of the service in between the camera men
and photographers was difficult.
"Yes, you're married now"
The aunties sing a song.
All smiles.
The bride and groom with the bride's family,
The wedding car.
Reception tent.
The reception was held at a sports ground and had two tent like this one on either side, one for bride's guests and one for the grooms.  In the middle of the two tents was a walkway, space for dancing to come, and most importantly...
The cake stand.
The cake wasn't cut until the very end of the reception.  Most of the cakes there are given as gifts to the parents and family of the couple. For the other guests the cake is cut into bite-sized pieces and a plate is passed around with a fork to take one -
but I used my fingers to pick one up.

Barbara and I waiting for lunch.

 Lunch included traditional Kenyan fare of beans, ugali, irio and rice.  There were also another 3 dishes with goat - but I don't eat goat so you don't get to see those.

After lunch there was some dancing. After 2 hours the wedding party had not yet arrived at the reception so the MC encouraged people to dance while we waited.
With Josephine, mother of the groom.
Arrival of bride and groom.
When the wedding party did finally arrive, all the women went out to escort the bride to the reception while chanting and kind of shuffle-dancing.  I don't know what was being chanted, but we joined in the shuffle fun.

Once to the reception, the proceeded through an arch, followed by two lines
of shuffle-dancing guests.

Kikuyu dress.
Both the bride and groom come from the Kikuyu tribe - the largest tribe in Kenya and most prevalent in the central province which surrounds Nairobi.  This is a traditional bridal dress which was presented to the bride.
There were a number of speeches given over the course of the afternoon.
None of which I understood. Not because my Swahili isn't good enough -
but because they were all in Kikuyu, the tribal language.  There was one speech given in Swahili so that the wazungus (foreigners) could understand.
That one I didn't understand because my Swahili isn't good enough.

And the prize for the largest wedding gift goes to...
The bride's family for this bed. The giving of the bed signifies that the bride has chosen to leave her home and make home with her husband. When she returns to her family's home it should be with her husband.
Most gifts to the couple were money and little brown envelopes were distributed throughout the afternoon for that very purpose.  Groups of people who did have gifts for the couple would come up in their groups (family, co-workers, church members - there were about 10 or 12 different groups) sing a song for the couple as a group and then present them their gift.  We had bought a card and gave them some money which we discretely put on the gift table.  Andrea and I tried to work out what our song and dance might be if were forced to go up.  Due to childhood continental differences, the only dance we both knew was the Macarena, and for that reason let's all be glad we weren't forced to go up!

And that about brings us to an end. One other thing I wanted to share is a song that became the theme song of the day.  It was played while the couple walked down the aisle after the ceremony and several times during the reception.  It is catchy and Andrea and I had it stuck in our heads for a couple days - so I decided to share that joy with you!  Here's a link to it if you are interested - although be warned that you will be humming it for a while!

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