The Wedding Day
[OK so yesterday (Sunday) I couldn’t post because I was too sick. So tonight is Monday night, but I’m posting about Sunday. Tomorrow I’ll share about our activities on Monday at the Twa community.]
Congratulations to our good friend Jean Claude on his beautiful wedding day! It was definitely a blessing to be there with him on his big day, and it was a cultural experience that none of us will soon forget.
For me, it was a tough day because I was sick…like…really sick. If it were any other day, I would’ve just stayed at the hotel and rested. But Jean Claude specifically planned his wedding for when we would be here, and I was to be an attendant in the ceremony. I could not miss this day. So I put on my big girl panties and tried my best to tough it out.
The morning started early (like 5:30) as we all got ready to do our hair and makeup and try to figure out how to tie our Rwandan wrap dresses. When Jane arrived she helped us all get dressed because we had no idea what we were doing! We left at 8 to go to Jean Claude’s house where the groomsmen (including our two team members Danny and Daniel) got dressed. Then we went to Jean Claude’s fiancee’s house for the traditional dowry ceremony. In addition to Danny and Daniel being groomsmen Nichole was an attendant for Yvette and Kim and I were attendants for Jean Claude. It would’ve really helped to have a translator because it was about 3 1/2 hours in Kinyarwanda, but thankfully some of the Rwandans around us would occasionally tell us what was happening.
The crowd was separated into Jean Claude’s family and Yvette’s family, seated across from one another. It was really special to be considered Jean Claude’s family. Two older men, one from each side had microphones and were talking to one another. I was told that these men represented the families of the bride and groom, and that Jean Claude’s family had to convince Yvette’s family that he was worthy of her hand. JC’s family would present gifts to Yvette’s family in hopes of convincing them. There were some pretty awesome sound effects from the DJ! He would play bubble sounds when they poured the drinks which made us all giggle.
As we were sitting there, I felt someone touch my hair. I thought someone was getting a bug out of my hair or something so I turned around and it was this grown man PETTING ME. He said, as he continued to pet me, “your hair is different…the texture is different”. I was like “uhhhhh yeah, it’s normally soft and straight, but I put gel in it this morning to make my curls stay.” And he said “Oh is that because of damage?” He just made me laugh at his curiosity.
Then came the part where those of us in the ceremony walked up and gave gifts to Yvette. She and Jean Claude looked so nervous! Then the wedding party sat in front of everyone while there were some music performances. A couple of men holding sticks and a wad of grass sang for a long time while the DJ played mooing sounds. I had no idea what was happening, but a friendly Rwandan told me that this was the “cow song” where they call the cows together (metaphorically) to give to the bride.
Here is Jean Claude and his beautiful bride Yvette!
We finished the dowry ceremony with a lunch for all the guests. Then we drove over to the church where the religious ceremony would happen. I was told that I was a member of “protocol” which meant I would be a greeter and lead people to their seats. So the rest of the team went to the ceremony while I changed into a second dress and got instructions about protocol. Y’all by this time I was feeling pretty dang terrible. I just found a chair and immediately fell asleep. About an hour later, one of the BFR leaders Shakour woke me to take me to go to the end of the wedding ceremony. It was nice to actually see him tying the knot! Then we went to a park to take wedding photos. By this point it was about 5:00, and we weren’t even close to done!
We then traveled to the reception area. There were SO MANY people there! At least 500. It was really beautifully decorated and it was so sweet to see all those people there in honor of Jean Claude and Yvette. That’s what made it even worse when I had to run out because I felt sick. I went to the bus and slept for about 3 hours while everyone was partying it up. From what I heard, it was quite the celebration. I hate that I had to miss it, especially for an dumb reason like puking.
It was about 8:30 at night when we left the reception, but many of the guests went on to JC’s house for dinner and then after that to a hotel for the after party! My goodness Rwandan weddings are long! We were a part of it for over 12 hours, and I don’t even know how long some of the other guests stayed! I think my favorite part was after they were pronounced husband and wife, they didn’t even kiss. They did this little hug/love pat. It was so sweet!
It was definitely a long day, and I was so impressed with Kim, Nichole, Danny, and Daniel for toughing it out as bridesmaids and groomsmen. They definitely had a long day of standing and taking photos and doing their best to fit in to the African wedding!