The Big Wedding
Updated: Jun 14
Aww… the infamous wedding. It was definitely a one of a kind experience and it was a true honour to be invited. I've never been a part of a shotgun wedding before, but honestly... what better place than Zanzibar to crash one?
Speaking from the viewpoint of a somewhat professional events planner, it was impressive they managed to bring it together within a 4 day period. I don't really think that either of them had a clue as to exactly what they were doing, but all the power to them for getting the deed done.
The main focus seemed to flow in this order;
Anything else just happened to fall into place... to the best of its ability.
I heard Claudia on the phone arranging the cake. *Definitely more to follow on the cake.
The ceremony was set for Tuesday, December 27th at the Evergreen Resort, which just so happens to host live music and a seafood buffet every Tuesday.
Claudia also owned the Evergreen Resort... and it was about 10 minutes down the road, and located right on the beach.
Ceremony location ✔️
Robin had his dad & Alexander. Sima had her sister.
That was it.
The bride & groom ventured into Stonetown to buy the outfits and jeweled embellishments on the 23rd, after having originally decided the wedding would be the 26th . It was after all of this that the pastor got back to them, saying he was unavailable, and the date was then moved to Tuesday, the 27th. Purely providential.
Regardless of how many times I reminded her she had already told me, Nina continued to inform us all that German immigration might not accept the marriage because there was not a government official officiating. To be fair, her research was Google... but she was insistent that neither of them had filled out the proper paperwork involving birth certificates and other assorted important documents.
I didn't really care.
My event planning days are behind me and I was happy to be a guest and an innocent bystander, completely removed of any red tape responsibilities. Essentially, I was along for the ride...
I was there for the food!
Nina, on the other hand, became consumed with the inner workings of the wedding and all the drama surrounding it. Oh, and drama there was...
Whatever the wedding lacked in planning or attention to detail, it made up for with drama...
It's a bit of an interesting story, actually.
I arrived in Paje, at the Simba Garden Lodge, on the 21st. At the time of arrival, I was actually quite upset that I was going to have an atrocious Christmas. There didn’t seem to be anyone staying at the hotel, and anyone that was actually there seemed unapproachable and reclusive. I already mentioned the cantankerous older woman, who sat around all day, scrolling through her phone and chain smoking. **Side note - she stayed at the hotel until the 27th, and not once did I see her look up from her phone, nor did she speak to anyone. Even on Christmas Day.
Maybe she's the reason Claudia didn't decorate for the holidays.
There were also two older men staying in the hotel. They seemed fairly friendly, but we didn't have much interaction at the beginning. For the first day, we exchanged an occasional wave, a quick hello and the usual pleasantries... but nothing much more than that. I assumed they were gay. Then I noticed a younger gentleman joining them for meals. This guy was at the hotel with an African woman and they had a tiny, very adorable baby girl. I had no idea of any of the relationships, and of course, I didn't ask.
And so the plot thickens…
So the father, Ziggy, had come to visit his son, Robin... the younger gentleman I mentioned was there with the lady (Sima) and the baby (Iona). Ziggy had flown down to Zanzibar, because he had not seen Robin in a very long time, and wanted to spend Christmas with him.
Upon arrival in Tanzania, he was met with 3 things;
1. This is my girlfriend.
2. This is our baby.
3. We are getting married.
Now THAT is a lot to process, after essentially being blindsided.
For anyone. In any situation.
I can understand his need to temporarily disengage. You have to hand it to Ziggy though,,.. he certainly put on a brave face and managed to embrace the situation to the best of his ability. His English was fairly non-existent, but Nina said he was extremely worried for their future together as man & wife, and the future of his only granddaughter.
I think it was all just a little all too consuming... but how incredibly adorable Iona was definitely must have softened the blow!
It was a very good thing that his friend, Alexander (*not gay), had accompanied him on this trip and he had someone to lean on. Alexander had an indescribable energy to him; very positive, always laughing and you could immediately tell that he sees the fun in every situation. Of the two, Alexander was the only one who could speak a little bit of English.
I did inquire as to why the mother of the groom wasn't there and I THINK it was because they either decided not to tell her... or she opted not to come. I guess it's a bit of a long trek to make with 3/4 days notice... over Christmas... regardless of the situation.
Early on, the core crew of us staying at The Simba became fast friends, and Sima welcomed us all to attend the wedding. We were all honoured and without hesitation, graciously accepted the invitation. Turns out, it didn't matter if we were invited by the bride or not, Claudia was going around telling everyone and anyone who stepped foot into the hotel to attend.
At first, we were all quite appalled to hear she was doing this, but later on, we figured out she was charging everyone for the buffet, so this wedding was quite beneficial to her profit.
Remember? ... cheap.
On the day of the wedding, we all sat beside the pool and drank more wine than rightfully should have been consumed directly before a beach ceremony. Finally, we made our way to the resort and waited for the beautiful bride to emerge...
..... and emerge, she did.
It was a little surreal.
A lot surreal.
Perhaps it was the wine.
But... holy shit.
I know it's wrong of me to presume, but I was not expecting what suddenly appeared in front of me. AT ALL. I had envisioned something coastal casual... like a light and stylish summer gown. Simple. Breezy. I pictured spaghetti straps, off the shoulder, maybe white silk with a touch of lace... Something elegant. Exquisite.
This dress was none of those things.
For fear of being impolite, I will shut up and I will not use any words like gaudy or tacky. I will merely proclaim that it would not have been what I would have chosen to cloak myself in, had it been my own beach wedding. I can't imagine how something so heavy and burdensome could possibly have been comfortable, especially maneuvering that monstrosity through sand... and in the intense heat.
Sima had spent almost two full days in the salon, which puzzled me because she didn't have any hair! Ok.. yes... she HAD hair... but it was uncommonly short. Almost military short. TWO days in a salon, just waiting for them to have time for her. This was really strange...
Why did they ignore her in the salon?
Why didn't she just do her own hair?
Why waste your time waiting? ... make an appointment?
Again... I'm just the guest... and drinking by the pool.
Nina accompanied Sima and her sister to the salon each day, and then proclaimed herself 'the wedding planner.' At least we all got a break from the drama updates and tidbits of German immigration rules & regulations.
When Sima emerged in her smock, she had an enormous wavy, black wig under her veil. Two days for a giant synthetic hairpiece. Due to the fierce heat and the sheer magnitude of the gown, there was a slick layer of perspiration across her face, and you couldn't help but notice the wig fringe strands were stuck to her forehead. It must not have been a very pleasant feeling. I would have ripped it off and thrown it... which, funny enough, happened later on... stay tuned for that one!
Ok... enough judgement, skepticism and negativity from me... it was a FUN day... a wonderful ceremony... the sun was shining... everyone was joyful... people were mulling around taking photographs... the bride was beaming... and then the groom disappeared!
"Where is he?"
He had to go back into Paje and get money out of the ATM because the Pastor had to be PAID! Now, this was both incomprehensible AND quite funny to me... Wouldn't someone have asked the pastor's fee? Prearranged payment? Could this all not have been sorted out beforehand?
And again... I'm just the guest...
One tradition I found quite fascinating was the bride walking around feeding everyone cake.
Gone were the days of Covid here, as she made her rounds with her one fork, shoving giant pieces of dense cornmeal into everyone's greedy gobs. Granted, I don't actually know if this is a tradition, or if it was just something Sima did. It was an interesting approach, though it might have been better received had the pieces been slightly smaller. It was nearly impossible to chew down and swallow with any etiquette.
The BBQ buffet was delicious... and there was definitely something for everyone there. Octopus, prawns, chicken, vegetarian. Claudia danced the night away, proclaiming she was so happy that the Simba and Evergreen guests were now like family, but we knew the reason for her festive disposition was the uncanny amount of money she made that night.
The band was phenomenal and even the sister got up to sing this "I Love You" song.
I tried to avoid dancing, but Sima managed to convince me to get up. It actually didn’t take much persuasion. When the bride beckons you to join her on the dance floor, you do it. The next morning, my knee wished I had been more persistent in my laziness, but I will survive.
After the wedding, we all jumped in a taxi and made our way back to Simba. After a quick jump in the pool, I retired for the evening... and everyone else hit the Paje party scene.
Guess it didn't go so well.
I heard a few stories, but from what I could gather;
~ There was a big fight between the bride and some other girls at the club. Apparently the girl ripped off Sima's wig and threw it onto the dance floor.
~ Once everyone managed to get Sima outside, they had to restrain her because she kept wanting to go back in and fight more!
Who fights on their wedding day?
Patience told me that she used to be a prostitute.
At least the dress and the wig suddenly made sense now...
I guess the girls she was fighting at the club were hookers too.
Never a dull moment...
It’s funny everyone is always so eager to toss out "true love"... and I guess only time will tell. For now... all I know is that Robin bought her a home on mainland Tanzania and she will be going to Germany next Fall to visit him with the baby.
I didn't really get the opportunity to get a gift prior to the wedding... I was lazy... so the next day, I darted into town, determined to find something special. I finally decided on a hand-carved, red wooden bowl and two decorative candle holders.
When I arrived back at Simba with the present, Sima didn’t even open it!
She merely opened the bag, had a quick glance in... and without pulling the items out, closed the bag and just said thank you. It was almost as if the gratitude had been rehearsed.
Oh no... I'm not having that!
I actually had to coax her to take the presents out of the bag, so that she - and everyone else gathered around - could appreciate my offering! I got nothing. More obligated recognition and then it was forgotten on the side of the pool.
It was Ziggy who later picked it up and made sure it was safe.
WOW... it was a tough one to process.
Suddenly I didn't care so much about being polite...
... the cake sucked.