From what I have gathered, the mosque/church ceremony is held days or even years before (the delay for the reception is sometimes due to being able to pay for it). The bride isn’t necessarily part of that ceremony.
So I go to this Ethiopian wedding in the desert with a British family. I don’t know if it gets a whole lot more multi-cultural than that. It is a big deal to get as many people to come to your reception as possible and kind of distinguishes the new couples social status. It also seems to be a big deal for kwaja’s (foreigners) to show up. We get there and they seat us at a table, literally, in the middle of everything and everyone in the tent. Everyone is staring. Awkward. You would think I’d start to get used to this sort of thing. I dunno, maybe someday, but for now I still feel kinda weird. Anyway, they serve us bottles of water, sodas, and then lunch. We had Ethiopian injera that they served with a carrot/potato stew and some sort of meat stew. As we were eating one of the family members (I guess) asked to take a picture. So we smile and he takes it…then walks a few steps over and takes another one….then another….then another. This guy literally took like 8 or 9 pictures of the kwaja table from all different angles. Haha, awkward.
I had already eaten lunch because I didn’t know that it was a lunch reception. Whoops. But the people I went with said that was fine and not offensive not to finish. Here, if you finish your plate, it indicates that you weren’t served enough and they will get you a whole second plate. So you should actually leave some. Perfect.
Anyway, so we are eating, and being started at, waiting for the bride to arrive. We think a few times she has shown up, but turned out to be a false alarm each time. I think the groom was there. I’m not sure.
As we are eating there is music blaring from a huge speaker. One guy starts to dance. It is different dancing that I have seen. If anyone danced like that in the states it would look really awkward. But I don’t know what is normal here so I just assume it is a part of things and I focus on eating with my hands and making it into my mouth and not on my dress. He starts to act a little more eccentric and is going around the tent and dancing. Stood close to where I was sitting by our table for a few minutes and the whole time I am thinking don’t-look-up-don’t-make-me-dance-don’t-look-up-don’t-make-me-dance-don’t-make-me-dance. He saunters off eventually and I breathe a sigh of relief. Soon after he is really getting into it and a guy pulls him close and is kind of sternly talking to him. He continues on for a little while longer. Then 2 guys who are clearly kind of embarrassed talk to him. Then they walk away and the dancing fellow dumps the soda in his hand on his head and proceeds to unbutton his shirt. I can’t watch anymore because I am having a lot of difficulty containing myself. It was incredibly funny. Then a couple of guys pull him into the house and you can see them buttoning him back in his shirt and such. It was so hard not to laugh. Even though alcohol is illegal here, there is an (I am not sure how thriving) illicit brew business. I would not be surprised to learn that this dancing man knew a thing or two about that.
They take our plates and more people are arriving. You can’t talk because the music is so loud. So we just sit there for a little while. The kids started to get restless and the parents felt like it was ok if we left. If you leave at a really inappropriate time people will usually let you know and that didn’t happen so it was all good. As we walked the 12 feet to our front door the Arabic speakers I was with heard presumably the brother of the bride asking “Where are you?! Everyone is here waiting!” I understand that it is pretty normal for the bride to still be at the salon taking her sweet time getting pretty for the festivities. I don’t think that brides are ever on time, or even close, to their wedding receptions.
We actually left and came back to the house a few hours later and by that time the party was in full swing. I watched the dancing from the roof a little bit and it looked really crowded, but also like they were all having a great time. But I was happy that I was not there for that part. Needless to say, I had to sleep with earplugs in last night.
I am sorry to say that I didn’t get any pictures. I planned on getting one as the bride walked in, but we weren’t there for that so that didn’t happen. I wanted to take a picture (or video!) of the dancing man but by the time I was done eating there were people who were clearly embarrassed about his behavior so I didn’t want to do that. But seeing as how wedding invites aren’t that hard to come by here I am sure I will have more opportunities in the future and I will certainly take some pictures then.