Exploring the Concept of Fake and Arranged Weddings During Student Union Weeks


Ibrahim Oloyede

In 2023, the notion of staged and arranged weddings became commonplace within the confines of higher education institutions in Nigeria. On various media platforms, videos showcasing students adorned in extravagant outfits and orchestrating lively Owambe parties circulated widely. Primarily integrated into the events during Student Union (SU) weeks as a source of amusement, these events captivate students. Leading up to these occasions, students engage in donations and contributions, recognizing that hosting such festivities, even though fake, involves a specific level of expenditure. In fact, many who watch these videos attest that these events appear so authentic that one could easily mistake them for genuine weddings.

The student union weeks in departments, faculties, or even the entire institution are renowned for their dynamic and imaginative events that unite students for celebrations and entertainment. The enactment of fake weddings during these weeks is one distinctive tradition gaining popularity in numerous Nigerian institutions, including universities and polytechnics. These mock weddings, conducted in a playful manner, have recently piqued curiosity about the intricacies of their planning, expenditures, and elaborate execution, despite being purely for amusement. It is also not new in the University of Ibadan as one was held in the Faculty of Law dinner during the faculty’s week in the 2022/2023 academic session. This piece delves into the motivations behind these institutionalized fake weddings, exploring the social and cultural aspects that contribute to their status as a captivating form of entertainment within the university experience.

In the realm of social dynamics, fake weddings held during student union weeks may function as an avenue for students to forge unique bonds, fostering a sense of unity across various institutions. This entertainment concept not only facilitates connections, but also offers a platform for individuals from diverse backgrounds to converge, break barriers, and form positive relationships. Additionally, the informal nature of these weddings creates a laid-back environment, encouraging students to engage beyond their usual social circles.

Speaking on this new concept, Alabi Mariam, a 200-level student of the Department of Communication and Language Arts said, “I believe that the innovative practice of staged weddings during events in high institutions offers students insights into Nigeria’s marriage culture while promoting socialization. In Nigeria, weddings are highly anticipated celebrations due to the joy associated with embarking on a new chapter in life. Various entertaining activities are organized for the soon-to-be-married couple. Additionally, considering that actors and actresses portray weddings in movies through pure acting, real wedding customs can be introduced without taking it to an extreme extent.”

Regarding expenses and potential motives for this practice, Mariam expressed, “creating a budget raises questions. Ensuring over 10,000 students participate, especially under the SU, seems impractical. Making it a paid entry contradicts the inclusive spirit of the Student Union, so it’s safe to say it won’t work at UI during the UISU week. I believe the inspiration for this concept stems from social media Owambe events and songs like Koloba and Lagbaja. Students are drawn to the fun, drama, choreography, and arrangements seen in real weddings, prompting a desire to recreate it. However, a fake wedding at UISU would be ill-advised, akin to the Nigerian government arranging a mock wedding for all citizens with the promise of food and souvenirs which would be a great challenge.

Mariam emphasized the events’ capacity to be inspired by cultural wedding celebrations in Nigeria, highlighting a variety of marriage ceremonies across diverse cultures. By incorporating these concepts, students not only engage in celebrating diversity but also gain a deeper understanding of various cultural practices associated with weddings and engagements in Nigeria.

Also reacting, Adebayo Wisdom, a 300-level student of the Department of Linguistics opines, “I think this practice of fake weddings in higher institutions would be a great source of entertainment and would be quite fun. I see it as purely entertaining and without much significance. However, I do not think it is a great initiative as it quite trivializes the whole concept. Unless this is being done on a platform of entertainment, it is expressly stated. Also, I think this practice is motivated by and originated from Theatre Arts students or comedy skit makers looking to create content for entertainment.”

Oluwatobiloba, a 400-level student of the Department of Political Science, believes that fake weddings contribute to entertaining students, offering a respite from routine academic activities while also serving as a way to learn about customs and traditions.

“Representing real wedding practices in a fake wedding can be a means of cultural representation and entertainment. It allows students to experience and learn about different customs and traditions, promoting cultural awareness and understanding. It can be a creative way to celebrate cultural diversity and foster inclusivity within the student community.”

Yet, when queried about his opinion on the expenses related to these fake weddings, he said, “The perception of whether it’s a waste of money to hold a fake wedding during SU or Faculty Week may vary depending on personal opinions and priorities. Some individuals may argue that the funds could be better allocated to academic or more substantial activities. However, others may view it as a worthwhile investment in student engagement and entertainment. It ultimately depends on the overall goals and budget of the event organizers and the preferences of the student body.”

Also, Dauda Abeebah Opeyemi, a 200-level student of the Classics Department said, “I think the main reason why some universities organize fake weddings is for fun sake, and as we very much know, UI is more of academics and almost nothing for fun, even the FYB week isn’t practised. If organized, it might be fun, but some students might not participate. I don’t see any tangible role that it encourages other than having fun and practising the indigenous wedding process, or maybe it creates more awareness to those ignorant about how it is conducted. For me, it’s purely entertainment”

In conclusion, this endeavor has the potential to offer students insights into the intricacies of authentic Nigerian weddings. Notably, institutions such as Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), and Mashood Abiola Polytechnic (Mapoly) have embraced the practice of arranging fake weddings as a form of entertainment during the Student Union week. It then becomes evident that the acceptance and success of fake weddings during Student Union Weeks or Faculty Weeks depend on a delicate balance between entertainment, cultural appreciation, financial considerations, and the unique dynamics of each institution. The perspectives shared by the respondents serve as valuable contributions to the ongoing discourse surrounding the role and relevance of these fake wedding ceremonies within the higher institutions in Nigeria.

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