Ivorian weddings are not for the faint of heart; they are literally all day affairs🤩. Recently a colleague at work invited me to her wedding and initially I was excited and curious because I have never been to an Ivorian wedding. I said yes because I wanted to honor her invitation and the fact that she chose to invite me. I also wanted to dress up and go out because covid has limited my interactions outside of work. Here’s what I didn’t know when I accepted her invitation: there are two ceremonies spread out throughout the day. I forgot to eat breakfast that morning and so it made for an even a longer day especially because it is all conducted in French.
The first part of the wedding started at 10:30 am at the hotel where the couple signs the marriage certificate and is pronounced husband and wife by an official. This ceremony was about 30 minutes long but it contained all the traditions of a wedding, walking down the aisle, bridesmaids, the vows or verbal agreement to get married and the kiss after being pronounced man and wife. After this ceremony the wedding party goes off to take photos which meant we waited at the church for about an hour before the next ceremony started 💁🏾♀️.
The church ceremony was a bit different in that the Pastor preached for an hour, the choir sang several songs and the drama ministry performed skits all in French of course and this part lasted about 2 hours😳. I knew it was a church service when they collected offerings after the pastor preached. While this wedding was very different than what I expected; the best part is where the couple kneels in front of each other and is surrounded by pastoral staff who prayed over them. Some of the major differences are that the groom walks his mother down the aisle and she is applauded. Then he waits for his bride to be escorted by her father. The parents and the couple sat at the front of the church during the festivities. There’s a part of the ceremony where the mother of the groom and the father of the bride stand with the bride and groom and agree to welcome them into their respective families. I assume this is what was happening because they answered oui to a series of questions. Again they are pronounced man and wife and there’s a kiss to seal the deal 😍 and gifts are presented to the couple at the end.
By the time the church ceremony ended I was hangry and ready to go home because it was after 5 pm but the reception was up next and there would be food so I was interested. The reception hall was nicely decorated with fresh flowers and a photo area outside with the couple’s initials. Before you entered there were hand-washing stations although not many Ivorians were wearing masks. The bar was located outside along with finger foods. The tables were nicely decorated with flower bouquets and menus with the couple’s name. It was all very classy. The bride and groom and bridesmaids came in dancing and danced around the hall to greet guests before sitting at the head table.
Some of our colleagues showed up for the reception, we socialized long enough to take some pictures, eat and greet the couple to congratulate them on their marriage. We didn’t end up staying the entire night for the cake and dancing because we were tired. We stopped at KFC on the way home to get more food as we were still a bit hungry from only eating one meal that day. The next time I am invited to an Ivorian wedding I know to skip the ceremonies since I don’t understand French and do as my colleagues from work did and show up for the reception and the fun because they know how to party💃🏾💃🏾🥂. #BlackExpat #Ivorianweddings #myexpatlife #lifeinAfrica