Wedding Etiquette 101

If you are a wedding vendor, September spells the end of the official “wedding season”. However, if you are the average person with a reasonable number of family and friends, you will know that wedding season never ends.

With that in mind I thought it might be helpful to consider wedding etiquette, from the perspective of the both bride and groom, and guests. There are no official rules as far as I’m aware, but having experienced being a bride that one time, and a guest quite a few other times, I have formed my own views about what the rules should be.  And course because they are my views, they are obviously right.

Before I begin I must confess that I, in the past, have been guilty of breaking a few of these rules. I was ignorant then, but after reading this, you dear reader will have no excuse. Especially you Nigerians. (I can say that, because I’m Nigerian).

Let us start with some do and don’t for wedding guests. In no particular order:

DO respond to the invitation. RSVP does not mean “Rice and Stew Very Plenty”, it means “Let me know if you are coming or not because I am not a mind reader, and I need to plan according to numbers”. If your plans change and you can no longer attend, please let the bride and groom know as soon as you can for the same reason.

wedding  or nah

DO NOT turn up if you have not been invited. This is because the bride and groom will not be expecting you, so would not have catered for you, and most likely will not have allocated you a seat. To turn up when not invited means that you are taking the seat, and eating the food of somebody who actually was invited. I can only assume that people that turn up uninvited just have not considered this before. Well now you know. You’re welcome.

DO keep a low profile if somehow, you end up at a wedding you were not invited to. It shouldn’t really ever happen, but maybe for example, were tricked by a guest who led you to believe they were allowed a plus one, but it becomes clear when you get there that you really were not invited at all. In such cases avoid being snapped by the official photographer, so that the bride and groom do not later look through their wedding album and think “who let him in??” It’s also probably best not to approach the bride and groom to congratulate them. They probably do not know you, and do not want to see you. Just try and blend into the background.

Life is not like the film "Wedding Crashers".

Life is not like the film “Wedding Crashers”.

DO NOT make the day all about you. You are there to support and celebrate with the bride and groom. Don’t try and upstage the couple with your outfit. In fact my own personal rule is, the less well I know the bride and groom the less I dress up. If you are going as a plus one, who may not have even be invited, wear jeans.

DO get a gift and/or card. Because even if the only reason you came is to eat and dance, getting at the very least a card, makes that fact less obvious. And because turning up empty handed is just rude. Even if you were not invited. In fact, especially so.

wedding just here for food

DO NOT buy a gift that the bride and groom did not include on a gift list. There is a very good reason why people use gift lists. It means that everything on the list is something they want/need, and it means that they don’t end up getting the same thing twice or more. Can you see the chaos, departing from the gift list brings? If you really don’t want to buy anything from the list, cash is a perfectly good alternative. But to assume that the couple want a glass figurine when it was not on their gift list is a big assumption. And most probably a wrong assumption.

DO ask for permission before splattering pictures you’ve taken from the wedding all over the Internet. Not everybody enjoys violating their own privacy in such a way, so do check first.

DO NOT complain about where you have been seated. You will only have to sit there for as many hours as you choose to be there. It’s not that big a deal. (If you’ve not been invited, don’t complain about this, or anything else for that matter). Weddings without seating plans can lead to a difficult situation where you do not get a seat at all. Even in such awkward situations, do not complain. Just leave.

Bride and grooms, there are some rules for you too:

DO NOT provide conflicting information on your invitations. Here’s an example “We do not want gifts. Our Selfridges gift list number is…. (But we actually prefer cash)”. If you really don’t want any gifts, it best to suggest some charities that guests can donate to instead. Otherwise just give the gift list number and say no more about it.

DO be thoughtful about items you put on gift lists. Give a wide range of options in terms of price, as when people are attend 10 plus weddings a year, they may not want to spend £100 on a gift each time.

DO NOT put too much pressure on guests. This will likely apply to guests who are close to the bride and groom. There may be an engagement dinner at which such guests will have to spend money on food, and on an engagement gift. This will be followed by a shower at which another gift will be expected. Then there may be a hen night/stag do which will involve going out and in some cases going abroad, and spending more money. In Nigerian circles, female friends may be asked to by Asoebi material which in some cases are being sold for in excess of £100, and that’s not including the costs to get it sewn. Sometimes guests will also be asked to abide by a colour code which may mean buying an entire new outfit. By the time your wedding is over, a guest may find he or she has spent the cost of a new car. This is not necessary and should be avoided.

DO create a seating plan. Guests should not have to scramble for seats. How would you feel if you had to leave a wedding and go for pizza because there was nowhere for you to sit, because you had not been properly allocated a seat, because there was no seating plan? Exactly.

DO NOT invite the whole world. Or at least don’t feel you have to. The more people at a wedding, the less personal it feels. Crowded weddings can lead to issues such as the one described above, where a guest could end up leaving the wedding, without you having acknowledged they were ever there.

DO think about your guests and ensure they are fed. A wedding can be a long day. Don’t spend all of your wedding budget on making yourselves and the venue look good at the expense of providing enough food. If food runs out before everyone has been fed, for those guests that went without, that will be the only thing they remember about your wedding.

wedding rsvp

DO NOT if possible, turn your guests into staff. I understand that sometimes, couples want to save money by getting friends to help out with things on the day. This should be restricted to close friends, and they should have advance warning. Guests shouldn’t really be roped into setting up, serving food, or helping clear up. Especially when they’ve not even eaten because the food ran out.

DO try and do the rounds and greet all guests. It adds a personal touch that makes guests feel that you appreciate them coming. Which you should do, given that they’ve already spent £1000 on hen nights, outfits, and wedding gifts, and after your wedding, they’ve got two more to get to before the night ends.

My American Dream has Died

When I was a child my TV
showed US shows each day to me
Sold US dreams to this
Black British
Young girl and won me over easily
Because I watched, I wanted prom
Wanted to call my mother “mom”
To cheer lead dancing with a Pom Pom
To me you see
The U.S. was where I belonged
If given the choice where to reside
Bel air, Beverley Hills or Bayside
Who cares
I’d have better hair
And white teeth
Like all Americans who live there
I’d go to the mall, hang out at the beach
Life in America would be peachy

That’s what I’d see
When closing my eyes and California Dreaming

That dream has been cut short

By the sound of black voices screaming

I was late
To read the words that graced
The pages of Haley’s story
For my unexposed mind, this was gory
My eyes spilled metaphorical tears
For a people stolen, brutalised, the worst of all fears
DeGruy is right
That the trauma is still alive
My American Dream was beginning to die

Feelings of heaviness inside
How can a people live with this past
With this pain
With this knowledge that your blood spilled
Was their gain
You weren’t human in their eyes
My American Dream began to die

And then Obama
They’ve come so far
The most powerful man
And he’s black like me
“We don’t see colour, look at Obama. See?”
Yet to to make black lives matter
Powerless is he.
I was not fooled
But still fooled to believe
That racism was only in the awards blacks didn’t receive
Was only in parts on screen they could never play
America was still a place to travel to some day

The trouble is
Now we have technology
Camera phones that record and see
What the overseers, sorry officers
Don’t want anyone to see
Thank God for passers by
Now the world can see what America would like to hide
You still want black labour,
So you put blacks in jail
You still want to be Massa
white supremacy prevails
It was not a crime then for a slave to be killed
And still now you murder blacks as you will
Instead of serving time
You hit the big time
Get lauded as a king
Or sheltered under the Roof of a Burger King

I’m no longer dreaming, I will stay woke
It is sad to say, I can’t see a day
That the dream MLK spoke
Of will ever come to pass
Blacks still being pushed
To the bottom of the class
When it comes to wealth and healthcare
They’re still coming last
The whites have the gall to put “immigrants” on blast
You are also an immigrant have you forgotten your past?
But for the blacks it’s
Not so much California, but Compton
But even when the blacks
Do live in a nice neighbourhood
The whites believe blacks are no good
“This is our swimming pool
Stay out of our spaces
Or we will call the cops
But don’t you dare call us racist”
Yes Amerikkka; the police man of the world
Allows its own police force
To assault innocent young black girls
As I watch the whitewashed media spin
It sinks in
From the beginning
The dream was never for those with melanin

I now watch Amerikkka through cynical eyes
Death in police custody is followed by lies
Lies followed by victim blaming
And shaming
No justice for black bodies
Just more hashtag naming
Everyday a new hashtag
The world ignores Amerikkka’s genocide
But not I
I dare not step foot on that blood soaked stolen soil
Lest I die
(If I do I did not commit suicide)

To express what has been implied:
My American Dream has died

Why I’m Considering Going Back to the Creamy Crack

The next post I was supposed to write about natural hair, was the second part to “My Hair Revolution” in which I was to discuss the changes in my routine in terms of what products I now use. My last “hair” post was sometime last year. Since then I have been going through a roller-coaster of thoughts and emotions about my hair.

For the most part, I would rather not have to think about my hair at all. I live a very busy life, and dealing with my natural hair is to me is just one of those necessary evils in life. When I think about “wash day” (I assume it has that name because it literally takes up the whole day) I almost come out in a rash. I anticipate with dread the huge amounts of shedding, and the hours it will take detangling, and styling. And after all of that, I look in the mirror and the results hardly seem worth it. After a few days my hair starts to mat together, and I run out of ideas of how to style my hair in a way that covers up my lack of edges.

Last year I excitedly declared that I had found the solution to most of my natural hair problems. I thought that mini-twists were the most ideal style, but the truth is, there is no ideal. Every style, process, product, procedure associated with (my) natural hair ALWAYS has a catch. For twists, it was the time it takes to install them. My busy schedule means I just do not have the two days it takes. Since then I tried going back to weave. The catch? excessive breakage and shedding once taken out. Then I tried straightening my hair again with heat. The catch? I need to exercise regularly, and therefore I just end up sweating out the straightness, and also the heat weakens my hair. So then I tried a wig. The catch? Uncomfortable, and did not look great (though to be honest I acknowledge that it was a very badly made wig and I may still try this option again in the future, using a different wig maker). Then I tried braids which I’ve just taken out. The catch, as ever, was intense damage to my edges resulting in a depleted hairline.

Perhaps I should just leave my hair to be free, and just do the occasional twist out etc like the natural hair bloggers do. Well I would, except I am not genetically blessed like the natural hair bloggers, and the results I get on my hair look nothing like the images you see when you type into Google “natural hair”. These are the struggles that have led me to start asking; was relaxed hair ever really so bad? Of course there is a catch with relaxed hair too, but is it any worse than what I experience with my natural hair?

I am still undecided. I am going to give myself to the end of the year to see if I can figure something out with this head of hair in its natural state. And if I’m still struggling as much as I am now, you may just see me start a new hair journey altogether. The “Back to the Creamy Crack” journey.

5 Tips to Stay Cool During the Heatwave

Who would have thought we’d be having temperatures of over 30 degrees in Britain this week! Now I LOVE when the weather is warm, and skies are clear and blue, but when the heat starts to break records, it can get a little uncomfortable.

Here are a few methods I employ to try and survive during these rare times:

1. Wear the right clothes. This means clothes that are loose, and made up of natural materials, or mostly natural materials. Synthetic fibers will not allow air in as well. Tight clothes will trap heat. Some people think sunny weather is the perfect excuse to go naked. I do not recommend this as it is indecent, and having the sun beat down directly on your skin, funnily enough, is not going make you any cooler.

2. Drink lots of cool water. You can leave a bottle of water in the freezer overnight and take it with you the next day. Throughout the day the ice will melt, but the water will remain nice and cool.

3. If you have long hair, wear it up and away from your neck and face. Self-explanatory I would have thought.

4. Leave yourself plenty of time to travel. I have long given up on running to catch trains or buses, but in the heat, even brisk walking to try and catch a train is a sure way to find myself pouring with sweat once I’ve made it on to the train (which of course will be packed with other sweaty people). Also, we all know that British transport is not able to cope with any kind of weather. Train services are slow or run late , so leaving early will also help make sure you make it work on time.

5.  Shower before you leave the house, and use plenty of deodorant. Ok, I do not know if this will actually help to keep you “cool” but it will certainly help other commuters who have to share the same space as you, to keep their cool. Of all the tips I have mentioned, this is the most important. Please take note.

I hope these tips have been helpful, and hope you are enjoying the weather and the tennis, as much as I am!

Book Review: A Bit of Difference by Sefi Atta

I read about this book in a Newspaper and the way in which it was described drew me in. I recall, it was said to be a book about exploring the differences in culture between the Nigerian protagonist and those she comes into contact with within her Western environment. I bought the book with an expectation of something Americanh-ish. I think part of my problem is that I have been spoilt by Chimananda, and now expect all African writers to sound like her.

Well, Atta does not sound anything like Adichie, and that in and of itself is not a criticism of Atta. I’ll start with some positives.  I like that the main character’s name is not introduced until she is addressed by another character and we learn her name is Deola. Up until that point she is only referred to as “she”.

Deola is in her late 30s, single. This information is provided to the reader, but other aspects of her character, who she really is, remained somewhat of a mystery. She works for an international charity in London, but visits “home” which is Lagos for her late father’s memorial. Some of her thoughts and dilemmas seem more typically associated with an adolescent. I can understand this is some way, because in some West African culture, a woman has not truly become a woman until she is married with children. Yet I found it hard to connect her thoughts and feeling to that of a woman of her age and stage in life. Deola clearly has dissatisfaction with her life in London, but the reason for this is not made entirely clear.

What is clear is Deola’s love hate relationship with religion, and Christianity in particular. Now this touched a nerve with me because of the sweeping generalisations made about the Faith. Again though, I have understanding as to why “African Christianity” is criticised because I know from experience how distorted it is from the Christianity of the bible. Religion is certainly a theme in this novel, but I was not expecting it to be tackled in a way that could be seen scornful and disrespectful.

In terms of some of the other themes explored, I found myself asking at one point, is this a book about HIV and Aids? A bit like the MTV series “Shuga” based in Nigeria, (where almost every character either had HIV, or was about to catch it), was the thinking that, seeing as this is going to have a mostly African audience, I’d better do my best to educate them about the importance of being tested for HIV, seeing as most Africans are dying of Aids?

Perhaps not the biggest let down, another thing I found disappointing was that I could in no way relate to Deola and her privileged background. I had waited to find a novel that was based between Nigeria and London, and having finally found it, I couldn’t connect with Deola as I shared very few of her experiences. I did not go to an expensive fee paying boarding school and I do not have any friends who were educated at Harrow, for a start.

Fatally, the book included too many scenes that did not move the story forward, and an ending that leaves the reader hanging. Not hanging from a cliff as such, as that would suggest an exciting ending. More like hanging from a set of monkey bars.  I kept returning to the blurb to remind myself of what the story was supposed to be about. A love story? Deola’s love interest, hotel owner Wale, does not feature enough for it to be described as a love story.

With no lucid understanding of where the story is going, what is driving the main character, and what message the writer is trying to give, a Bit of Difference, was a bit of a flop for me.

Music of another decade


This sort of applies to me too, but with different music

Originally posted on write meg!:

I don’t know when I stopped listening to music.

It’s not that I don’t catch a random tune on the radio or keep up with modern hits — peripherally, at least. I mean, I know “Blank Space” and such. I’m not hopelessly out of touch.

Just mostly.

When I was commuting to college, the two-hour drive daily on the Beltway was a medley of Hanson, John Mayer, Maroon 5, The Killers, Coldplay. Circa 2006, coed Meg was pretty hip. My first iPod came as a Christmas present in 2004, and that little pink Mini accompanied me everywhere. I can still remember the long walks across campus with Death Cab for Cutie for company. It was a little lonely back then, I’ll admit — but peaceful, too.

Pink iPod

After graduation, my two-hour commute became a 10-minute back-and-forth to the office. I’ve been fortunate to live and work close to home for the…

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How to Be More Beautiful in 2015

I just thought I would share some beauty tips for the year ahead. These are things that I really hope to do more of myself! Here goes:

  1. Smile more. Even if you don’t really feel like it, you will probably make yourself feel better and make other people around you feel better too.
  2. Do something kind every day. If you make it an aim to do at least one kind thing, you’ll have less time to worry about negative things in life.
  3. See the best in people. We all know nobody is perfect, but what if instead of focusing on what we don’t like about a person, we focused on the good things about that person?
  4. Think of yourself less. Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less. Think more about of other people, what they might be going through, what support they might need, etc
  5. Be content. Stop looking at what other people have, and wishing you had it (perhaps stop looking so much at Instagram? I’m speaking to myself here). The grass always appears to be greener on the other side, but just water your own grass if you want it to grow.
  6. Be thankful. The quickest way out of a bad/sad mood is to count your blessings. Stop and think about all the things you are thankful for.
  7. Start living… As opposed to performing a series of acts for the sole purpose of documenting your actions on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube etc to garner “likes” and comments of approval and adoration.

Was this list not what you were expecting? Sorry if you came here looking for make up brand endorsements, or a tutorial on how to draw on eyebrows. It’s just that we seem to be so obsessed with outward beauty, as though that is all that matters. Being beautiful has very little to do with what lipstick you wear, but everything to do with character. I just hope this year more young women will being to realise that, and break free from the tentacles of mass media merchandising machines.