I am being invited to a friend’s wedding and being a bright Kenyan, this once, I decide to acquaint myself with the location. Okay I have just lied, I did not decide, it came up in a conversation. As we were heading to town with one of my close friends I asked her if she knew where Captain Andy’s is located. And she looked at me surprised and typical Kenya style her answer was a question.
“Kwani you didn’t come to Nani’s wedding?” She asked.
I shake my head in the negative and again she looks at me shocked.
“Why?Weren’t you invited?”
No, I wasn’t invited, is my reply to her. At this point am laughing because am still not getting why she’s shocked. A colleague is seated behind and am worried this girl of mine might blurt something wrong.
“But we were all in school together. We are friends bana. How could you not be in that wedding?” She continues still unbelieving.
“We are not friends with Nani , we know each other, we’ve known each other for years. But that’s it. So calm down because I was not offended for not being invited. Plus you can’t invite everyone you know to your function, and don’t forget planning a wedding isn’t easy.” I said, ever philosophical even when I don’t believe the non sense that am going on about but I can be quite convincing. She looks at me, unamused and tells me I must attend her wedding whether she invites me or not especially if it’s in Mombasa. I laugh it off because I do not see the big deal. Everyone is at liberty to decide who they want in their lives, because they know best what they need. Adulting or lifing isn’t a joke. Of course I just made up those two words because they best describe what we are all trying to do, to be adults about everything
I am thinking during wedding planning every single invite comes with it’s expense and you are thinking is it value for money? I know of weddings where you pay for your invite which basically means you are footing your own bills in terms of food and drinks. Which still makes a lot of sense. It’s like a BYOB party, you know, where everybody brings their own drink. Having hosted both a BYOB party and a potluck lunch I can tell you for sure these are great ways to have your cake and still eat it. Minimal expense, maximum participation and optimal fun or something close.
So where was I? Yes, as I was saying, matters weddings are pretty personal and should or should not be taken to heart depending on where you stand. Let’s face it, there are weddings you will be invited to and from the onset you know you’ll not attend them. And then there are those you are ish-ish about, if you happen to make it well and good and if not, too bad for all the parties involved.
This I must presume is one of the considerations the soon-to-be married couple must deliberate on. They do not need to fill their guest lists with no shows. A wedding day is a very important day to be spent with people you intend to share your life journey with. It is thus allowed for you to be picky about the invites. Unfortunately in Africa it’s not about you but more of your parents and their kin. They call the shots and 50% of the wedding guests will be known to them.
To he honest and fair, I think am a gamble when it comes to attending weddings. I am weird, I guess we already covered that. I don’t attend random weddings. Just because we know each other isn’t enough for me to attend your wedding. I rarely, to put it mildly, gate crush or accompany people to weddings. I have missed weddings that were important to me due to unavoidable circumstances on my part but I have also missed a few because of circumstances on the marrying couple. For instance there are weddings(three of them) I missed because they were all happening on the same day and all were out of town. Another one I missed because of work constraints. The other ones I have attended I attended willingly, body, mind and soul.
So what has inspired this story today? My friend, Kay, recently got married and I was honored to attend his wedding. Kay and I have known each other, for about say eight years or more because we started interacting before I got Sandbaby who’s now seven years. We met on social media through a mutual friend and we became closer than people I knew before. For the records, he’s now Dr. Kay after pursuing his doctorate abroad though he still let’s me get away with calling him Kay.
Kay got married to a Mzungu. Yes look at that, very unexpected since am the one who interacts with Mzungus on the daily. Anywho he’s the one who got to marry a Mzungu. I thoroughly digged his wedding because it was so real. No charades or over choreographed moments and no extravagances. One thing that caught me flat footed though was the footnote on the invite,” Children are a blessing from God but we’d prefer you leave them at home.” It took me three weeks to decipher and explain that to my daughter who likes weddings. She wondered why this couple doesn’t like her or children for that matter.
I don’t know why children weren’t welcome guests but I know it wasn’t my wedding and I wasn’t being forced to attend. That’s the thing, as a guest you must respect and act your place. Even bridesmaids know better than to upstage the bride. Just because someone invited you doesn’t mean their worlds revolve around you. You were picked in a list of many you just happened to make the cut. Sigh. Harsh but true.
Kay’s guest list read like a home party, the kinda people he’d invite to his kibanda home, not that he lives in a kibanda. But you could tell he was under no pressure to impress or pretend. These were his peeps, guys who know his hustle, from across the divide, religion, class and tribe. No judging. Even the program was well customized to appeal to the majority. I can say the only rider that he had was that it was a card-only function with no gate crushers.
Do you have to honor all invites? I don’t think so, that’s why it’s an invite not a summon. However, should you not be in a position to honor an invite you need to say so, that’s what is referred to as R.S.V.P. It allows and enables the wedding party to plan and budget accordingly. Roadside invites are definitely to be turned down, in a discrete manner though, because if someone wanted to their function they will find a card to send you no matter what. Don’t be too fast to jaza lorry by accepting roadside invites because just like in politics where roadside appointments come to bite this will surely come to roost. You are doing it discretely since you realise it might not have been intentional or you need to maintain the current camaraderie with the inviter(person inviting you).
How you are invited sets the tone for so many areas including your outfit, gifts and availability. Give value for value, match your invitation. Overvalue don’t undervalue. The days of attending weddings empty handed just to gobble pilau and carry take-aways are long gone instead carry a gift either as an item or enveloped. Of course some invites will be bold enough putting it down on paper that they prefer envelopes or gifts from their gift registry. A gift registry is a list of items that the couple would prefer and it minimizes duplication. It eliminates cliche wedding gifts like sets of cutlery and khanga and allows you to ask for what you really need to start your married journey.
So next time you get an invite decipher the writing on the wall. And if you don’t get it don’t sweat, it’s never that serious. You are just not that kind of friends so take it easy and buy yourself a bottle of wine.
P.S I got directions from Anyango an alumni of my high school and so her you go.
There’s a Captain Andy’s just before you get to Kongowea Market on your left from Nyali Cinemax…and the other Captain Andy’s is located in Watamu at the end of the beach road past Temple Point. Same owner but different premises.