Designed to highlight the European influence on Tobagonians, the Moriah Ole Time Wedding is actually a re-enactment of what weddings on our island were once like. Ask any village elder and they will tell you that conventional invitations are merely an insult to the memory of the “free for all” real Tobago weddings once were. Watch them gleefully reminisce about watching or being a part of the winding procession making its way through Kitty Bamboo Gully all the way up to Lincoln Gap.
Now merely a show, the Moriah Ole Time Wedding attracts hundreds of spectators each year and can be easily called the trade-mark event of the Tobago Heritage Festival. The men are outfitted in black stovepipe/top hats, black and white three piece suits (inclusive of mandatory scissor tail coats), bow ties, white gloves and umbrellas to shade their female partners of course. However, if you think the men are a sight to behold, the women are just as or even more “gussied up”. The women wear bustle dresses, wide-brimmed hats colourfully adorned with flowers and as much jewellery as possible.
Activities for the wedding begin on Friday with the Bachelor Night which includes Tambrin music, traditional dancing, food and drinks. On Saturday, the actual wedding day, the village showcases the Bridal Affair which is intended to demonstrate the stages of preparation the bride goes through. This is followed by the Wedding, the trek to the reception ground and a show.
Generally, the event is quite cheerful since both bride and groom are usually heckled throughout the ceremony by family members of either spouse or by a jilted lover perhaps. To the sounds of fiddles and Tambrins, everyone “walking de wedding” dances the “Brush Back” as they make their way from the church to the streets. Cultural entertainment, food and drinks help to round up the afternoon at the reception ground but no wedding is complete without speeches. The audience listens attentively to speeches that are sure to leave you in stitches.
In true Tobago style, “come leh we go” for there is no other experience quite like the Moriah Ole Time Wedding.