By Damiloju Fatusi
So, some of you have watched “27 dresses”, right? I remember the first day I watched the movie. Amidst the laughter and jest myself and a few friends of mine made at the scenes, one of them said “Well, this can never happen in Naija o. Who get time?” At that very moment, another friend glanced at me as I sat with my eyes deliberately glued to the screen to avoid her gaze, before turning to our friend that asked the question, and said “Who told you so?”
My name is Oluwadamiloju. My close friends call me Loju or LJ. And I am a “bridesaid-holic”. As of today, I have been on bridal trains about 25 times, and I still have 3 more left in this year. And before I forget, I am “Nigerian”, not “Oyinbo”. How did this all start? I grew up having a lot of “big brothers and sisters”. My dad had a lot of mentees, friends and aburos; and in turn, I grew up having “bassier” of family friends. I also grew up in a community where everybody knew each other; meaning, I was everybody’s daughter or sister. And as I grew up, and weddings rolled by, people always thought I was perfect to be on their trains.
Those were the days when pop culture dictated that one’s younger siblings act as members of the bridal train, while one’s friends wore “aso-ebi”. Gradually, trends changed. People started making their unmarried friends part of their trains. Those “friends” didn’t always have to be their agemates or classmates; they just had to be people they had good relationships with and who were also at the stage or looking towards the stage of marriage (not more than 2 years younger).
Unfortunately for me, like my dad, I had tons of friends. I made friends everywhere I went; and there always seemed to be someone to get married who thought Damiloju was a very good and loyal friend of hers to be on her train. Typical “Loju”, I had a weakness of not being able to say “No” and not being able to condone people’s frowns, so I would always say “Yes”, with my 32 shinning, even though in my heart’s recesses, I would be upset about the burden that was about to be placed on me.
My “bridesmaid-holism” is so pathetic, that I have agreed to be the bridesmaid to someone after knowing the person for 2 days; and I have been bridesmaid to my friend’s cousin’s flatmate. It’s that horrible I’m sure someone is reading this and wondering, “What’s the big deal? You should be honored that people want you on their train. There are people dying to be bridesmaids. You are probably a good and special friend to the bride, and mostly likely you are pretty with a nice body. So whats the fuss about? You should feel lucky.” Maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong. This is not America. This is Nigeria. You want to know the truth? Here it is. A bride does not necessarily have to give a damn about you before choosing you to be her bridesmaid, neither does she have to appreciate the sacrifice you are making to be on her train. I have been on trains where I neither got a thank-you message or gift, a good place to lay my head in a strange town, transportation from church to reception venue or even a chair to sit or food to eat. Basically, you just might be invisible or inconsequential at a wedding. I have had to look like a “cow” because one Make-up artist was rushing my Make-up so that we are not late for church service, and I have worn dresses that was not laundered or fitted properly. In bitter truth is: Unless you are friends with the bride or she accords you some love and respect, you are nothing but an instrument to make her look beautiful. GBAMM!! Your hair, your smile, your shoes, your dress ALLLLLLLL comes together to be instruments to make her wedding look pretty and “instagram-worthy”.
This leads me to the first point. Ladies, DO NOT EVER be on someone’s bridal train if she isn’t your friend, if she isn’t worth it or if she doesn’t have the knowledge or the appreciation of the fact that you are doing her a favour, and reciprocates that favour with a considerable amount of gratitude, love and respect. This one is especially important for Chief Bridesmaid. If you are agreeing to be CBD to someone because she is your “aunty”, or your “familyfriend” or it has been predestined before you were born that you would be her CBD, you are on your own. Just ask anyone who has been CBD for many times (I have been thrice); the joy of being a CBD or Maid of Honour stems from the relationship you have with the person and your ability to help the person on her special day; and not the position. If you have no relationship with her, you would end up feeling spent, used and abandoned, because it’s a very tedious work is done properly and seriously.
So my first point; BE SURE OF WHO YOU WANT TO BE BRIDESMAID FOR AND HAVE A GOOD REASON FOR IT Coming from this is one other salient point: BE DOWN FOR WHATEVER! Trust me, Weddings are hilarious! Expect your dress to have an issue. Expect your shoes to spoil. Expect to not have a MUA. Expect to not have a car. After a wedding in 2014, I made a personal rule not to go to a wedding without a car (or at least a cab guy’s number), breakfast in my tummy, jeans and t-shirt to change to, a pair of flat slippers, enough cash for an hotel room and my own Make-up kit. These are essential ingredients to ensure you do not mess yourself up on that day. Trust me, the wedding hustles are real; and you do not want to spoil your “fine girl” being on someone’s train or get angry in the course of the day.
This leads me to my next point. MAKE ALL THE COMPLAINTS BEFORE THE WEDDING AND NOT DURING OR AFTER. Truth is, its your money. Its your dress. Its your hair. Its your makeup. Yes, it is the bride’s day but everything else belongs to you. Learn to speak up. If the dress won’t fit your body shape, talk. If you cannot afford the dress, talk. If you think the colour is randy or the material is bad or the make-up is too loud, abeg, talk. Even if the bride doesn’t ask for your input, give your input anyways. Money is too important to waste on things you do not like. I cannot tell you how many bridesmaid dresses I have had to “dash” out after the wedding because I hated the style, the material or there wasn’t just a good place to wear them to after the wedding. Ask questions. If you look “funny” on someone’s wedding day, no one will insult the bride (the bride is always right, and beautiful). It is you that guests would insult. So ensure that your needs are met. However, do not be a bridesmaid-zilla. Make room for compromises. The wedding is still not your own, it’s the brides; and you are not the only person on the train. However, if you feel that nothing about the train is going in your direction and all seems to disfavour you, it’s better to politely decline the invitation than to waste your money and sulk, gossip or grumble all day of the wedding. It is in fact your duty to make the bride happy and smile all day, and to help the CBD take care of the bride. So, the wedding day is not time to make complaints, or squeeze face or act pregnant. Post-wedding isn’t the right time either. So say it before the wedding. Before I conclude, I need to mention this. Being a bridesmaid isn’t about being a fine girl at a public event. Its about ”Sacrifices”. Many brides do not know or appreciate this, but being a bridesmaid is a huge sacrifice. A sacrifice of money, comfort, time and energy. You have to pay for this new dress, a new weave, new shoes and accessories. You most likely have to leave the comfort of your bed to sleep wherever the bride decides. You dedicate your whole Friday and Saturday to dancing, picking sprayed money, attending a bridal shower, looking pretty etc.
PREPARE FOR THE SACRIFICES AND MAKE EVEN MORE. If you agreed to it, then save up for it. Don’t stall payment till the week before the wedding, it stresses the bride out. If you don’t cover your hair to church on a regular, and they insist on it in her church, please cover your hair. If the MUA is busy and you are running late for church, make yourself up. Don’t just go and flirt with men at the reception, help the CBD who would obviously have a lot to do. Stay till the end of the wedding and if possible, see the bride off. Encourage the bride and make her smile, even if you are not happy or comfortable. I know you have spent money already, but buy something else as a gift for the bride to celebrate her special day.
Be ready to run errands. You are a bridesmaid, and your main job is to make the bride extra happy Last tip, HAVE FUN. You might feel miserable at a wedding without fun. Make friends. Take pictures. Get the number of Vendors. Eat. Dance.
It’s your right as a bridesmaid. This, and the smile of the bride (alongside a possible beautiful dress) is your only reward for all your sacrifices for the bride. Enjoy it In all my years of being a bridesmaid, these are the lessons I have learnt. If you learn to follow them, not only would you end up not being a “bridesmaid-holic” like me; but you would enjoy every minute of being a bridesmaid.