I rarely attend the church part of the weddings I work on. There’s usually so much to do at the reception venue, so I’m needed there. I usually have my trusted assistant cover the proceedings at the church, while I supervise the setting up at the reception. There are an endless number of things that could go wrong at the last minute, with the décor, sound, lighting, seating arrangements and so on. And anyway, as long as the couple say “I do” at the right time, almost everything else can be overlooked in church.
I had been extra prepared for this wedding reception. My team and I started putting the hall together since the night before, and we were nearly ready, with a couple of hours to spare before guests were due to start arriving. The only thing we were waiting for, was the lady who was still setting up the cake. It was a complicated affair, being a 9-tier cake with floral arrangements, lights, and a small fountain. I decided that since the church ceremony was only a short drive away, maybe I should go and see that things were alright.
These clients of mine were really cool, and I had enjoyed working with them. It was one of those rare situations where I could honestly say that the groom adored his bride. He would do anything for her. He was a poet, and a romantic at heart. Throughout the planning process, he had done many thoughtful things, and added little gestures to their day, like the beautiful presentation he had put together to show during the reception. I looked at my watch. Maybe if I hurried, I could catch them saying their vows. The groom had decided he wanted to write personalised vows and I wanted to hear them.
As I got near the church, I noticed there was a huge crowd outside. That was odd, I thought. The service should have started already. There was a small commotion going on. One woman was shouting, it appeared a couple of other ladies were trying to calm her down. The rest of the crowd were huddled in little groups whispering. I parked my car and quickly scanned the crowd for my assistant. I saw her talking to two people who I guessed were relatives of the groom, from the colour of their attire. She spotted me, and looked relieved, then she excused herself.
“What’s going on, Tinu?” I asked.
“I was just about to call you. The bride just left.”
“Left? What do you mean?”
She looked around and spoke in a low tone: “The bride’s ex-boyfriend showed up just before the service was about to start, and declared that he wanted her back. She said sorry to her husband-to-be and took off!”
“What! Where is the groom?”
“He is over there,” she pointed. I looked in the direction she was pointing. The groom sat on a chair, frozen, staring into space. He didn’t seem to notice that the priest was talking to him.
“I think he’s still in shock,” Tinu said.
I nodded. My attention was drawn to the hysterical woman. She was the mother of the bride. She kept saying, “This girl has disgraced me!”
Tinu said, “What happens now?”
My question exactly. What happens when the bride absconds from her own wedding?
Well, the mother of the bride wept. The guests went to the reception, ate, drank and gossiped all the way home.
And I got paid. Again, this is why I always ask for a seventy percent deposit upfront.
Memoirs of a Lagos Wedding Planner is a flash-fiction series of 8 stories. Stop by next Friday for the next episode. Meanwhile catch up on past episodes.
About the Author:
Tolulope Popoola is an award winning Author, Publisher and Writing Coach. She is the author of two collections of flash fiction stories, “Fertile Imagination” and “Looking For Something”, and a romance novel “Nothing Comes Close”. She has written extensively for many magazines and publications. Tolulope is the founder of Accomplish Press, a coaching, consulting and publishing company, that provides services to support aspiring authors. She was given a special Award of Excellence at the 2016 Nigerian Writers’ Awards, and has recently been shortlisted for Diaspora Writer of the Year for the 2017 awards.She has also earned the nickname of “Africa’s flash fiction queen” for her unique ways with writing dramatic short stories.