Reasons why Kenyan brides are always fashionably late revealed; and it is rarely their fault
Whenever the bride is late for her own wedding, you can hear the uneasy shifting of feet and the murmurs, and see the furrowed brows and noses turned up in indignation.
Even if it happens so often that it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, we are always surprised. “Kwani what is happening?” the whispers go.
But really, why are Kenyan brides almost always late? According to one of the village pastors, who visited Bill Dindi on the day before his wedding, drama during weddings has been happening since the old biblical times.
“The previous night, my parents had come into town from Kitale. One of the pastors from the village came for tea at my place. He held a small devotion as we were leaving and he said, ‘You know in the Bible, it is very interesting that there is no wedding that just happened with no drama’,” says Bill.
“And he began listing them - one ended up with the wrong bride, for another one the oil in their lamps got depleted - they seemed to all be so dramatic. So he had said that you know what, with weddings, be prepared for any eventuality.”
Traffic: There were multiple accidents along the Eastern bypass
It turned out to be practically prophetic. The bride, Nancy, who had been ready since 8am, ended up arriving at 3pm. The reason was because despite having even done a trial run the previous day and estimated the time it would take to get there (30 minutes), Murphy’s Law was governing the roads on the material day. Everything that could go wrong with traffic, went wrong.
“There were multiple accidents along the Eastern bypass causing Nancy to really get late. She ended up not using the decked out bridal car. Traffic was too heavy. Their attempts to use shortcuts caused the motorcade to get lost. She just got into her dad’s car and came to the venue,” he says.
The day before Achieng’ Ivisu’s wedding ceremony, they too had charted the perfect route to the wedding venue, but despite waking up at 3am to prepare, they were 30 minutes late, because that day, there was traffic. But Ivisu admits that hers wasn’t just that.
When tears flow freely, makeup can be done three times
“Another reason was that the videographer had this idea where he called my dad and mum to bless me,” says Ivisu. “It got really emotional. They were told, ‘You know this is a recording that your daughter will have for the rest of her life and she will always look back to this moment.’ So they both really poured out their hearts and we all cried.
Ivisu ended up having to redo her makeup three times, because she broke down three separate times, until her mother put a stop to it.
“Eventually my mum was like, ‘Okay no more tears, we need to look good, so you’re not crying anymore, you hear me?’” she says with a laugh. That wasn’t all. Ivisu walked out daintily, taking in the moment.
“As I was being serenaded the songs were like, ‘This is your last day, we’re sending you with so much joy, look at how beautiful you are,’ so as we were singing those songs I couldn’t hurry up. I took my time getting out of the house,” she says. “I was taking really small steps, like I want to be in this moment forever, I want to relish in it. It’s never going to happen again.”
Despite one of the ladies in charge trying to rush her, the lady walking behind her, one of her mother’s closest friends, wasn’t helping matters.
“This is your day,” egged on the lady. “We want to make you feel as beautiful as possible. The guy can wait. If they wanted you to go early they should have come early!”
Kui Mutathi, a wedding planner who runs Countryside Blooms, has seen this happen a lot, and once saw a wedding almost cancelled because the church was very strict on time, but she says that it is almost never the bride’s fault.
“Sometimes, it’s just a man somewhere who remembers that they bought the bride a pencil somewhere along your school life and now they want to be refunded that pencil! So they show up and cause unnecessary drama that makes everyone late,” she says.
“It’s rare that it is actually the bride who causes the delay, unless you get a bridezilla who suddenly decides she didn’t get the perfume she wanted for her day or her hair or makeup has been done badly and it has to be redone - minor things that can be overlooked - but if she wants to make them big then of course it is going to eat into her time.”
But that is rare, as most brides are up by 4am and ready by 5am or 6am, but external forces interfere and cause the perpetually-late bride phenomenon.
But of course, not every single bride in the history of weddings has been late for their wedding. Elizabeth Migosi was determined to be 15 minutes early for hers, at 9.45am. Traffic was not going to prevent that - she booked a residence a walking distance from the church to make sure of it. Everyone in the house, the bridal party, was told about it in advance.
“I woke up at 6am and even made breakfast for everyone,” says Migosi.
When her aunt said that she would bring women to do the traditional singing, the signature pomp and colour bringers of every Kenyan wedding, she was categorical that they had better be on time.
They weren’t. At 9.30am, her aunt showed up and could not convince her to wait a bit longer for the singing and dancing. “No, we’re leaving,” she said and they had to find her in the church.
Few brides are usually able to be so in charge of their time, so Mutathi says that the key to making sure one is early is to ask for help.
“Get help. It doesn’t have to be someone you are paying but if you can have a professional wedding planner, then you don’t have so much to worry about.
“You don’t have to worry about whether the caterer came, whether the photographer came, because when you do that when getting ready it is going to affect your time. You just have to worry about showing up, looking pretty and getting married.”