A wedding party is one of the most definitive representations of Nigerian culture.
Whether it is the energetic owambe of the Yorubas or the more conservative igbankwu of the Igbos, weddings are grand occasions which must be as perfect and entertaining as possible.
Scarcely can one stumble upon a Nigerian wedding without a host. The hosts of most Nigerian weddings are either familiar faces to the parties involved in the wedding or external professionals.
Regardless of their connection to the parties involved, hosts have an obligation to own the wedding party and keep diverse crowds entertained from the very first minute to the vote of thanks.
Without a doubt, this challenge is most daunting for beginners. Different circumstances can result in a beginner being vested with this mantle, but they must deliver nonetheless.
Here are a few tips which can come in handy.
Know Your Audience
This cardinal rule applies to hosting Nigerian weddings. An inexperienced wedding party host must take time to understand the culture of the tribe(s) to which the married couple belong(s) to. Such a host can also leverage past experience as a guest and engage with friends of that tribal affiliation on how to effectively appeal to the distinct crowd.
A host should also engage the organisers on the age groups that would be represented in the wedding, as well as the dignitaries that would be present.
Addressing a crowd will always be a daunting task for many. However, many more have pulled it off on multiple occasions, unscathed.
Regardless of the dearth of experience, a prospective host must constantly affirm their ability to execute the event right until they mount the stage on D-day. There must also be a constant effort to suppress negative thoughts, as well as the fear of embarrassing oneself.
Even where practice fails to make perfect, it can create excellence. A beginner host should not be too bothered about delivering the best hosting performance of all time, as that would be needless and unrealistic. Rather, a prospective host should maximise the limited time for preparation by focusing on the essentials.
During practice sessions, a beginner should prioritise projecting their vocal pitch, working on their posture, and fine-tuning their pronunciations of English and non-English names alike, among others. A beginner should endeavour to practice in front of close associates while being receptive to constructive criticism.
Know the Agenda and Be Attentive
A prospective host of a Nigerian wedding must develop a thorough understanding of the wedding agenda. They must be clear on what segment comes before which, and how long each is to last. Given that many Nigerian weddings begin behind schedule, a beginner host must be strategic about which segment to cut down time on.
In addition, a prospective host should pay rapt attention to the crowd and the surrounding environment. A host must gauge the crowd and be aware of their surroundings, particularly when someone comes to whisper a piece of information into their ear.
Be Lively, Engage the Crowd and Embrace Spontaneity
While hosting Nigerian weddings feels more attuned to extroverts, introverts can also rise to the occasion. A prospective host should strive to emerge from self and capture the energy of the event. A host should also endeavour to step down from the stage and walk among the guests to engage a few.
Spontaneity is tricky, but there are opportunities for appropriate jokes and pop culture references that would rear their heads during the event. A prospective wedding host must look out for these and capitalise on them.