It was a few years back. The wedding was a few hours away from our Lagos office. We were recommended by the bride’s sister & did not meet the groom until the day of the traditional wedding.
The traditional wedding was slated to start by 12 noon. Usually 95% of traditional weddings we’ve covered do not start on time. The start time for this traditional wedding would break all records. After waiting for the arrival of the groom for what seemed to be an eternity, the groom finally showed up about 4 hours late.
I was so curious to meet such an interesting groom that would arrive that late for his wedding. I was more curious to know the reason for the lateness. If my memory is right, the reason wasn’t cogent enough for me to allocate a portion of my brain to it for remembrance.
I finally got to where he was waiting to be called in by the family of the bride. I was shocked. It was the first time I would meet a groom that was drinking alcohol & smoking at the same time on his wedding day. Maybe he was nervous. God knows. He was a chimney. He would brag about how many packs of cigarettes he could smoke in a 24 hour period. I should have checked the Guinness Book of World Records; he should be there somewhere.
With a bottle of whiskey on his left hand & a cigarette bud on his right he quizzed me. “So you’re the sucker that wants to empty my bank account,” he asked. “Your pictures better be worth it.” I assured him that he would not be disappointed. I thought to myself the type of husband he would be. If we were to go by first impressions, this wasn’t it at all.
Anyway, the traditional ceremony was over by 6:30pm. As I was going back to where I lodged, I decided to stop by the nearest atm to get some cash. You would not believe who pulled up right ahead of me. Guess again. You got it. The very groom I met a few hours earlier. He was going back home and pulled over at the sight of a lady in front of the bank.
He started asking the lady the usual questions: Where are you going, What’s your name, etc. I was shocked all over again. I thought this guy just got married. For heaven’s sake, the evidence was still fresh on my Olympus e500 dslr. Within 2 minutes I was surprised to see the lady write on a piece of paper what seemed to be her phone number. She gave it to the groom and he promised to call her.
I watched from a distance and would have been caught red-handed had I given into my instincts to bring out my camera to record the moment. He smiled to himself and had the look of someone who just got another trophy. That should count for another record in the Guinness Book: shortest time to get a lady stranger to give you her phone number. It would have taken me at least 50 minutes.
I asked myself why he decided to get married at all. I would later find out that the bride was pregnant and he had no choice but to go to the altar. Or maybe he loved her. Who knows.
Well the drama continued the next day. It was the church wedding. He arrived about 30 minutes late. With eyes all red & a tired look he apologized to family members for his shortcoming.
I later learnt that his bachelor’s party was the night before and he had the experience of his life. He went to bed drunk and woke up late. His best man who was supposed to be his ‘alarm clock’ was also a co-culprit. They finally got to the wedding and I was happy it wasn’t a scenario in which the groom changed his mind. Maybe it would have been better for the bride if he had changed his mind. I don’t know.
He was able to win the praise, admiration & forgiveness of the pastors when he donated a “large amount” in dollars for the church’s building project. The way the pastors prayed for him was almost a sign that he was guaranteed to make heaven. The pastors were happy, he was happy that they were happy & I was shocked all over again. “What a groom,” I thought to myself.
The award-winning moment finally came when the pastor was about to JOIN the couple. “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife……” While the pastor was still speaking he looked back over to where his best man was sitting. Winking at him, he signalled with his head that the best man should take a look at his hands. His two hands were positioned at his back and looking at his fingers, I got the message he was trying to send the best man: HIS FINGERS WERE CROSSED.
“….till death do you part,” the pastor concluded. With fingers still crossed, he replied “Yes I do.” Can you believe that. Crossing his fingers, smiling and making such a commitment. I was shocked all over again. I never knew a groom like that existed.
For those of us that might not know the meaning of crossed-fingers, it signifies a high level of unseriousness when a promise is being made. In other words, if I were to cross my fingers and promise to cover your wedding at no cost to you, DO NOT TRUST ME because I’M JUST JOKING. That was what the groom was saying: DON’T TAKE MY WORD TO THE BANK.
So it is to that effect that I present the award for THE WORST GROOM OF THE CENTURY to ……. Well, he knows himself. I don’t want to be ambushed on my way to work tomorrow for mentioning names. May God help his wife. May God help all the grooms & husbands out there making promises with crossed fingers. May God help us all.
If you were the photographer that saw his fingers crossed, what will you do?