James and I were at Pastor Mbewe's daughters wedding this weekend. (you can read about the wedding and the day at Conrad's blog www.conradmbewe.com)
At the reception we were sitting with 4 other men, all married, from church. I noticed that they all were there at the wedding without their wives. I commented on that to them and they laughed and said all their wives were at home for one reason or another. A few of them were driving for the wedding party. So some were there to "work".
Our friend Logan asked me what I have noticed as differences between weddings here and in America.
I started by telling him that no man would go to a wedding without his wife. :-)
Then I mentioned that typical weddings in the states are fairly short, you can go to the wedding be there and have a piece of cake afterwards and be home within an hour and a half. That was strikingly different as weddings here seem to be all day long celebrations and then a meal for the reception afterwards with no cake! (Though as party favors at this past wedding there were bites of cake in pretty bags)
We have only been to 2 weddings so far, and they do have a cake but it is only served to the families of the bride and groom. They ceremoniously dance over, kneel down and serve the cake ( hand it over) to the brides parents and then do the same for the grooms parents.
The other difference is the dancing. As the bridal party walks into the church and then again into the reception they dance down the aisle. Now since we have only been to 2 weddings and they were those in our church here, I can't say how the typical Zambian would dance in. I hear it is quite different. But this was a very nice respectable slow dance down the aisle. Not a wild frenzied thing. What better time to dance than when two people are joining their lives together in marriage.
The last major difference was that I was asked, "What about bridal price?"
A simple answer, Nothing. There is no bridal price. The guys were already seeming to like that (if that wasn't shocking enough) AND the bride's family pays for EVERYTHING!
Everything? Yes Everything!
James then said, "Welcome to America!" and then quickly said, " But I would have paid a hundred cows for her".
Here the men are to pay a price to start to ask if they can marry the woman. Then they discuss and agree on a bridal price. Then the man pays for the entire wedding and the bride's dress. Often this is more than he can pay and weddings are put off until enough money can be raised for the wedding. An average bridal price can be around 8 to 10 million kwachas. Though often it is spoken of it in terms of cows. 10 cows as a bridal price.
So my dear husband was willing to pay 100 cows for me. After thinking about it he changed his mind and on the way home he said not just a hundred but 1,000 cows. So really I would have been worth 1,000 cows!
THAT, my friends is true love...