Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wedding! Wedding! Wedding!--Tamsin Barzane

Whose bells are ringing? Plenty of SL residents! Marriage is big business in Second Life. Not only do the Lindens rake in a fee at each marriage--and divorce!--but a plethora of businesses serve the engaged couple, just as they do in real life. But while some in real life balk at the prizes of services some bridezillas accept easily, everyone can indulge sl fantasies. A gorgeous gown or tux, a fantastic dj, a beautiful spread of food, a fantasy environment and dream honeymoon--all possible! And your choice of photographers!

Because one of my SL sons is planning to renew his SL vows (congrats Miles Barbasz and TallSweetness Lisa!) and my other used to work in the SL wedding biz, and is looking ahead to wed, these commercial enterprises have been on my mind. I'd love Saminaka to be a niche wedding destination; one couple already stealthily exchanged formal vows there (I felt like an eavesdropper, walking by). I'd love to be in the SL African wedding business, and Oliha is ready to officiate--he's done it in real life settings.

I've been to plenty of Nigerian weddings, so that's what tempts me most. Many Nigerian brides want three weddings for the feeling of a permanent union: traditional, church or mosque ceremony, and civil joining. Let me run you through the sequence backwards, so you can start thinking about your Saminaka adaptation! Guests usually support the couple by wearing "uniforms"--outfits in different styles but the same cloth. Close family members may wear one uniform, bride's university friends another, etc.

While most U.S. houses of God have legal rights to combine civil and religious services, Nigerian churches and mosques don't. You want a civil marriage? (which requires a civil--or uncivil--divorce) You go through the courts. This is the kind of union that allows for bigamy charges or will contestation, etc. Fewer couples take this route, and it's usually done in conjunction to other celebrations.
Nigerian Wedding Bling by Bennet Summers.
Church or mosque? Muslim weddings don't require the presence of the bride and groom (proxies can act on their behalf), but they're usually there in gorgeous attire, with some dancing and festivities accompanying all. Church weddings take a clear page from the Western book, with white dresses, elaborate cakes, bridesmaids and gloved groomsmen, interminable speeches, toasts, and dancing during the feast. At some stage of the wedding reception, the couple will certainly emerge in coordinating traditional attire in deluxe fabrics.

Traditional weddings vary wildly from one ethnic group to another, but are often an occasional to wear more traditional attire and hairstyles. Sometimes they are referred to today as betrothals or introductions, since they usually occur before other wedding forms. Most involve the payment of a bride price from the groom's family to the brides. This may be a token, or considerable--sometimes over $10,000. If a divorce occurs, the bride's family must pay it back--and since they've most likely spent it, they expend a lot of trouble in calming quarrels and sponsoring reconciliations. Maybe we should do that in SL, with its assortment of fictive families--bride prices might keep couples together for more that the usual six month cycle!

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