My husband and I were at a wedding reception that Saturday afternoon when the MC suddenly demanded that every guest should get up from their chairs. At first I thought it was a way to welcome the new couple or probably an invitation to prayer. I never knew that the MC had other plans. When we had all stood up, he laughed rather cynically and said;
“We are going to do something now,”
We wondered what he was talking about. Everyone stared at him as he spoke into the microphone.
“If you know as a couple that you have wedded in the church, sit down.
“If you are yet to do so, remain standing.”
This came like a rude shock. I was surprised that some people took it like a joke and laughed over it but I saw in James’ eyes that he did not feel comfortable with that declaration. When all the wedded couples sat down, only a few of us remained standing.
The MC, laughing sheepishly went on; “Now, those of you who are yet to do your wedding, I give you one month to start planning to do so because I can’t understand why you will continue to leave as couples without a church wedding..”
I didn’t understand how that was supposed to be funny but a lot of people guffawed as we were made jest of that day. I could see on my husband’s face that there was registered anger there. He was a very shy person. He was not angry with the MC but with himself. By the time we got back into the taxi that took us home, he told me that we were going to start planning for our wedding immediately.
“I hope it isn’t because of what that clown said at the wedding reception that informed your decision to do this,” I mumbled but he simply shook his head.
“It is something that we must do.”
I heaved a long sigh; “James, we are married. Our parents consented to our union. You did not pick me up from the street like a common whore. You paid my bride price. Church wedding or no church wedding, we are husband and wife. Don’t give yourself headaches over the issue please.”
Although I tried to make my husband calm down and not bother about the church wedding issue, the matter was fired up the next day when we went on invitation to the church of the newly married couple. The new couple had gone for thanks giving service that day.
The pastor while preaching said any couple who hadn’t done their church wedding were like strangers to each other and also hindering the blessings of God from pouring on them. He admonished every young couple to immediately begin to plan to do their church weddings if they hadn’t already done so.
On our way back home that day after the service, James, my husband had already made up his mind on the issue. He sulked all day and refused to eat his food.
At home, he picked up a paper and began to scribble something on it. I was to find out later that he was drawing a budget. On the paper, he had a budget of about eight hundred thousand naira. My heart skipped a bit the moment I saw it. What was he thinking? I thought to myself. Where were we going to get that sum from? There was rent waiting to be paid. The landlord had been on our necks. There was a loan I took from my office to buy a plot of land jointly with my husband. That too had been on our necks. We had been feeding like paupers to help stabilize our fragile cash flow. Why would he want to incur more debt just to make people feel good and happy? I simply told him that it was never going to work. It was an immaterial decision.
“I will not let you do this,” I screamed dispassionately. “You cannot do this to us. We have lots on our heads. We just got married last year. It is not too late yet for us to plunge money into a church wedding now. That can wait.”
He was livid. He turned to me and in a cold voice muttered; “We are doing this wedding Dear. I can’t stand the insult anymore.”
I just couldn’t understand the rationale behind us spending eight hundred thousand naira just to make people feel good in one day. Did he really know what he was talking about?
In order not to aggravate the matter, I simply let him be. That evening, I went to see Pastor Emma. He was the assistant pastor in our church. Pastor Emma was a very understanding fellow who usually advised me on many occasion. He was in the church alone praying when I came to see him.
“Sister Glory, what was the problem? You sounded very frantic.”
He walked towards me where I sat on one of the pews. I quickly told him what it was; how my husband had suddenly begun to behave very funny because of what he heard from the pastor in another church and because of what the MC had said the previous day.
“Why?” he echoed. “Your husband is smarter than that na. Why would he bother about such things?
I tell people all the time that what has been agreed here on earth will definitely be endorsed in heaven. The day your parents accepted him and gave you to him was the very day that God signed it in heaven. I don’t understand why people bother themselves over elaborate weddings when the only thing that we do here in the church is to bless the union. There is no pastor that will join two adults in a holy matrimony if their parents’ consent had not yet been sought after. So long as you have done the necessary thing already, what is now required is just the church’s blessings and endorsement. And it is not something one needs to kill himself over. I have met couples who came to church after they had been married for years.”
The young pastor and I talked for a long time and he assured me that he was going to discuss it with the senior pastor.
“See me after the fellowship on Tuesday so that I will tell you what the pastor said.”
“Thank you very much Pastor Emma. May God bless you so much.”
The pastor and I parted and I went straight home that day. My husband was at the dining table still doing some calculations. He had arrived at the sum of one million one hundred and forty thousand. I didn’t bother to tell him anything more after having discussed with the young pastor. I still could not understand why he wanted us to waste all that money just for a day’s event.
That night as we were about to sleep, he suggested that we sell the land to raise the money for our wedding. I felt as if I had just been stabbed. How could he of all people say a thing of that nature?
“You are the man of the house my darling,” I muttered hiding my displeasure. “I cannot go against whatever you say.”
We slept thereafter but I awoke at midnight and went into the sitting room to pray. I prayed for God’s wisdom and for Him to intervene in the matter. I could hear my husband snoring away as I prayed on.
By Tuesday, I had come up with a solution to the problem. When I returned from work that evening, I went to see Mama Dadi who sold chilled kunu with zobo. I asked how much it would cost to make kunu and zobo drinks for about fifty people.
“That is about five thousand naira o,” she intoned when I told her about it.
I dipped my hand in my handbag, brought out the money and passed it on to her.
“This is six thousand naira,” I said. “Please make it very thick and nice.”
I could sense the happiness on her face. “When do you want it delivered?”
“Sunday afternoon by one O’clock.”
Again, she thanked me and I left her. Pastor Emma was waiting for me after the fellowship that evening. He told me that Pastor Edwin wanted to have a word with me. Pastor Edwin was the senior pastor.
Minutes later, I was seated at a chair facing the senior pastor.
He looked at me after we had exchanged pleasantries. “Sister Glory, I heard what you told Pastor Emma. Do you want me to talk to Brother James for you?”
I shook my head. I didn’t want my husband to read meanings to it. He had warned me several times never to take an issue to a third party except it got out of hand between the two of us.
I told the pastor that I had a plan. I pleaded with him to wed me and my husband in the church that Sunday. I could see the sudden change of his demeanor. He looked very shock as he listened to me.
I demanded that he talk to my husband that Sunday to accept to wed us both and he agreed. The next day, I took a walk to the market and bought two rings. Thereafter, I went to rent a wedding gown and also negotiate for the cake. In all, I spent less than thirty thousand naira.
Sunday came like every other day. I convinced my husband to wear his best pair of black suit and he did. I had invited his uncle with the wife to the church that morning while my elder sister with her husband would also be coming there too. No one else related to either of us knew anything.
Brother Matthew, one of the finest young men in our church had been secretly contacted to act as the best man while his fiancée, Eno was to act as the bride’s maid.
Pastor Edwin summoned my husband that morning when we got to church. I was not dressed in my wedding gown at that time because I had to know what my husband’s decision would be. We arrived early to church because I had already planned it with Pastor Edwin. Before James would return, the pastor had told him everything he needed to know and he had no choice but to consent to it. The pastors told him that if he accepted, it was going to change the perception of many who would want to do their weddings in the church.
I didn’t know all the things they told my husband but I was glad that he accepted to carry on with the wedding that day. By the time we were ushered in, the pastor had made the announcement and the entire church was ablaze with the euphoria especially because they were taken unaware.
The choir sang like never before. We were called to the altar after the sermon and I could see my husband grinning from ear to ear. Wedding was over in no time and a photographer took pictures of us with a lot of the church members.
Pastor Edwin announced second offering for us as gift and we were amazed at the number of people that thronged out. This was different from the money that the church members sprayed on us while we danced. We realized about two hundred and eighty thousand naira that day.
When it was all over, some church members accompanied us home for refreshment and I served them chilled kunu and zobo which Mama Dadi had prepared so well. This, they all drank with relish.
Few days later, we started our project on our plot; the land that my husband would have sold.
Today, we too are proud owners of our own house. And whenever we remember our wedding, we laugh out loud with glee.
THE CHURCH WEDDING by Japheth Prosper
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