A wedding is a beautiful thing. No denying that. While I’ve never been married, I acknowledge that there are few things in life that could top the moment you pledge your lifelong commitment to the person you love in front of family and friends. But making this big day a reality can be stressful and costly. Which is why, after careful consideration (and a loose cost-benefit analysis), I’ve identified 12 reasons why playing mas in Trinidad Carnival might be better than hosting a wedding.
1. It Happens Every Single Year
Weddings come. Then they go. And if you’re lucky (and you’ve married Mr(s). Right), you will never, ever have another. Trinidad Carnival however, happens every single year. From the costume reveal at Band Launch to the heady feeling you get when you finally step onto the road in all your bedazzled glory, you get to repeat the excitement and the ecstasy YEAR after YEAR after YEAR! It’s like getting a new dress, new shoes and a new party every 11 to 12 months!
2. You Clock More Hours of Fun
When you get married, there’s (maybe) the engagement party, the rehearsal dinner and then the big day. Combined they account for less than a full day of awesomeness and they usually require an excessive amount of energy to plan. When you play mas in Trinidad Carnival, the band launch serves as a larger than life engagement dinner. Your rehearsal dinner becomes the sweet 8-hour long session that is Carnival Monday. And the big day, is really the BIG DAY with as many as 15 hours of epicness, jammishness and vibes – if you include Las’ Lap – which obviously, you will.
3. You Get to Wear Comfy Shoes
I’m not a shoe person but even I go ga-ga for gorgeous wedding shoes. However, they cost way too much, rarely can be used again and to top it off, they’re not the most comfortable things to wear for hours on end. For Trinidad Carnival, comfy shoes rule the days because there is a lot of road to cover, a lot of jumping to be done, and you’re going to get your feet stomped on countless times. So, whether you’re rocking boots or sneakers, in this instance function takes priority over fashion and that’s definitely a good thing.
4. It Requires Less Effort
Carnival is by no means a cake-walk (if you’re as invested in it as I am) but no matter how much work you put into it, it will never compare to the effort exerted to plan a wedding. I’ve never been married, but I’ve assisted in planning a few, and coordinating all those moving parts (while attempting to cater to so many different people) is not easy. When you’re playing mas YOU are your only concern. YOUR costume. YOUR makeup. YOUR accessories. YOUR hair. YOUR shoes. That’s it. Food, music, drinks, all the big stuff is taken care of by your band and all you need to do is show up. Literally.
5. It’s Cheaper
Not cheap. Just cheapER. No matter which way you spin it – whether you play frontline or backline and fete till you’re falling down – it’s very unlikely that participating in Trinidad Carnival will cost more than a wedding. Unless you’re getting married in a court house. Or you intend to be a career masquerader, then of course, the years will add up. But, if you’re just taking a few turns around the block, you will remain well below the cost of the average wedding. Even if you go the full nine yards with an all-inclusive masquerader package, professional makeup, additional accessories and designer Monday Wear. To top it all off, the final bill (while not exceedingly low) doesn’t give you heartburn because it reflects money you spent solely and wholly on yourself!
6. You Can Go Crazy with…Everything
Weddings tend to be occasions where people buy into traditions…white or ivory dresses, pearl or diamond accessories, natural makeup and such. Always beautiful but always expected. With Carnival, convention is thrown completely out the window and you have creative license to do whatever your quirky, sparkly heart desires. Even this Island Girl who hardly wears makeup gets bold and brave with shades and glitter depending on my costume.
7. No Need to Care
Very much like a wedding, the quality of your photos usually reflects the quality of your day. Unlike a wedding however, the sloppier and blurrier your Trinidad Carnival pics, the better the day. While you go to great pains to get your makeup professionally done (we’re talking 4 am appointments and massive amounts of setting spray) and you spend a significant amount of money on your costume, your concern for your face and body-wear dwindles as the day progresses. Contrary to a wedding, as a masquerader, it is expected that your luster will begin to dull as time passes by. In fact, if you end the day looking just as fresh as when you began, you clearly did not do it right.
8. Everyone is Invited
It is the biggest party of the year and EVERYONE is invited! No invitation. No RSVP list. Once you’re in Port of Spain, you’re a part of the festivities. Secure a costume and you’re definitely in a band. Either way, whether spectator or masquerader, no one is barred from taking it all in.
9. The Bigger the Crew the Better
Numbers are not an issue when it comes to the size of your Carnival crew. In fact, the bigger the better! The same can’t be said for a bridal party, which becomes overwhelming to coordinate if its too large, but can also make for awkward situations if you aspire to keep it small and have to exclude a few of your good friends. When you’re playing mas, you can have as many friends as you want in the mix. And you don’t even have to play in the same section if everyone falls in love with different costumes.
10. Every Song is Your Song
Selecting a wedding song is a big deal. It’s the first song you’ll dance to as a married couple and the expectation is that this song will be the song that represents your union for all eternity. You have to love it now and forever. And, if things go south (sorry, I’m a realist), every time you hear it in the future it’s going to remind you of what once was. For Carnival however, many songs will be released and played at fetes and on the road. A few will climb to the top of the pack and become Soca Monarch and Road March contenders but the fact of the matter is, on the road, no matter what song is playing you’re going to jump high and wine low without concern or complaint.
11. It’s EVERYONE’s day
Regardless of your band, your costume, your colors…when you play mas, you’re a star in your own right. At a wedding, the bride is the focal point, followed by the groom and then the bridal party. Everyone else is just there for ‘the show’. When you’re on the road however, every single masquerader is a showpiece. Decked out in amazing costumes with elaborate makeup and dazzling smiles for every camera pointing in their direction, no one is denied the experience of feeling extra special.
12. You Still Get the Honeymoon (Sorta)
Not so much a honeymoon, but still a very much needed getaway. After all the hype its necessary to take a day (or three) to recover. For some people, this staycation takes place on one of Trinidad’s many beaches. For others, it translates into a mini-vacation in our own little piece of paradise – Tobago. Just a 20 minute plane or 3.5 hour ferry ride away, Tobago’s white sand and blue water beaches are the perfect place to lay out and do absolutely nothing until your’e back at 100%.
I acknowledge that the act of playing mas is definitely not as precious as making a lifelong commitment to the person you love. But truth be told, that can be done without an elaborate ceremony and reception. So, from my inexperienced soap box, having compared the economic impact against the overall experience of both events, I do truly believe that playing mas is better than coordinating, financing and hosting a wedding. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to here them!
In the meantime, the countdown to #Carnival2018 continues…See you on the road!