They had to have a proper wedding, with a willing church and with representatives of both families in attendance. They needed a wedding dress adjusted in the middle, bridesmaids who weren't so willowy they'd out the bride, a big bright bouquet, and their game faces.
Of course, for the bride, there would be no spitting, no long naps, no indulging her intermittent cravings for strange-yet-edible things, and no bilious palavers with the groom on the day about whose fault what was. The groom would even wear the lacy white gloves without a protest murmured or otherwise.
The prayers-for those in the know-that the couple stay together would be earnest. The prayers that they be blessed with the fruit of the womb would be redundant in a way, and deserving of mortal strikes of thunder in another.
The ceremony would be somewhat dull, almost anemic. A lot of their friends and acquaintances, mostly those from their church, would not attend, either because they weren't invited, or because they had declined the invite with tactless tact and eyes-to-the-ground politeness.
The feelings of the couple which cannot be described in words, would be glimpsed for years after in the wedding photos; behind the grim smiles, in the stiffness and care of the body language, in the abscence of the bride's father, and in a lot of little things present and amiss.
The couple would go off on a honeymoon, to a friend's house not far from the groom's. There would be no coupling on that very night. The honeymoon would segue into the gravest months of the wife's ante-natal torment and after the birth, the new mother would return to her parents' house.
The husband would visit often, accompanied by his people to try and sort out the balance of the bride price which seemed to have swollen in inverse proportion to the wife's belly.
The husband would complain at some point that his wife, and his child were being held hostage. He would even go as far as mentioning the words ransome and militants in reference to the requested sum, and his new in-laws respectively. The wife's people would fail to find humour in this, not in those times, not in Port Harcourt.
Their annoyance would eventually be financialized so that the husband (or potential in-law as the wife's younger brother was fond of saying) would have an even greater bill to offset.
After a final amount had been agreed upon and contributed by the groom, his family, and his drinking buddies who had organized themselves into a pro-active Committee of Friends, the new mother and her newborn would move into the groom's 2-bedroom apartment in his father's BQ.
Their lives together would begin and continue with a lot of bitterness and regret. The husband would spend a few years applying for jobs he would never get. He would also become a vicious wife beater, sending his wife to the hospital on too many occassions. He would, at the age of 38, became a prolific marijuana inhaler, and a philosopher of the slurred, incoherent kind. He would eventually land a cosy political appointment courtesy one of the members of his Committee of Friends. He would compensate for his long abscences with even more frequent beatings, and with even harsher words during their routine verbal jousts.
The wife would forget her ambition to become a doctor. She would bury it along with other things planned and desired in the past. She would forever associate her singing voice with the turbulent, never-ending scene that her life had become. She would hardly ever sing. She would hear stories of how other girls in the choir had been seduced by her NowHusband in his role as the ThenChoirmaster. She would come to the conclusion that she was the one stupid enough to get pregnant for him, and stay that way. She would also believe sometimes, in the middle of their troubles, that God was punishing her for the sin they had committed practically in His temple.
They would have another child, a girl. The wife would think of running away with the children, and starting afresh in a new town. The husband would dote on their daughter. This attention would make his wife and son very jealous. He would call his daughter his dearest princess. For his son, he had only one name, one word.
He would matter-of-factly call his son Bastard.