Thursday, November 15

Adjustments (1)

In my last post, did I say “live happily ever after”? Well there are some things that only happen in Disney fairy tales. In real life however, after marriage there are adjustments to be made and not all of them are easy. There are some things you can’t do anymore, some patterns you have to change, some inconveniences you have to adapt to, and so on. Some adjustments can be amusing though, depending on how you manage it. Let me give you some examples of the adjustments we had to make.

The first major adjustment we had was getting used to being with each other most of the time. Before we got married, we used to meet up for limited amounts of time, usually after work or on weekends. Now that we were married, we were spending all our time together. One week after our wedding, we were driving along together in the car when Mr turned to me and said “Babe, I’ve noticed that you have been following me around for the past week. How come?” I saw the funny side and burst into laughter. I replied, “Hello? We are now joined together, who else will I be following around?” Then he saw the funny side too. He explained that as a single guy, he was used to going out and coming in whenever he pleased without a chaperon. Now that he was married, he had to either take me with him, or tell me where he was going. He had to tell me about even a simple trip to the supermarket. I understood that because I was learning to adjust to having him around me all the time too.

The second major adjustment was learning to share our personal space. Since we were now married and living together, we had to share a house. And that meant sharing a bedroom, a wardrobe, a bathroom and everything! It was fun moving all our things into our first flat together, putting up photos on the walls and things like that. When it came to sharing the wardrobe space, there were a few disagreements. When I was a single girl, I had my whole wardrobe to myself. I didn’t have to deal with having a man’s shirts, boxers, socks and ties competing for space in my wardrobe. Hubby too had never had to share his space with a woman’s excessive number of shoes and handbags. So we had some disagreements over who had a right to more space. We also had to share a dressing table and a chest of drawers and understandably, there were more arguments. No matter how many times I explained it, hubby didn’t understand why I had so many creams, cleansers, lotions and stuff. I didn’t understand why he had so many t-shirts taking up all the space in the drawers. Thankfully, somehow we managed to fit all our stuff into our room without having too many arguments. And then one funny day, hubby said he discovered feminine stuff in his bathroom. I started laughing and reminded him that he was now living with a woman and it was now our bathroom!

I had another adjustment to make. I had to get used to cooking regularly for two people. As a single girl and a student, I didn't bother to cook much. I ate whatever I had and cooked whenever it was convenient for me. At times I would not bother to cook for many days, relying instead on take-aways and meals I could get on campus. Now that I was married, I had to think of poor hubby’s meals! It meant I had to get into a regular routine of shopping, planning and cooking meals that I had never bothered with doing before. That was a major adjustment for me and I’m sure it is for many newly-wed ladies too.

Then I also had to adjust to my new name as Mrs. This meant I had to go through a lot of my official documents and change my name one by one. I had to change my passport, bank account details, my National Insurance details, driving licence, employer records, phone bill records, redo my CV, update my details on online accounts, etc etc. It took forever and it was a major drag but I had to do it! Even now I still come across some website or document that still needs to be updated.

There were some more adjustments I had to make, but I’ll stop here. Stay tuned for my next update.
Remain blessed and favoured!

Wednesday, October 24

What Happened Next

We drove away from our reception venue in excitement. I was thinking “Wow! So that was our wedding day!” It was almost unreal. I looked at my new husband as we drove to our hotel, and I was thinking to myself over and over again. “We are now married, no really, we are married!” We talked excitedly about how the day had gone. We were really glad everything had gone well and all our months of planning paid off in the end. I thought about the task ahead of us, thanking everybody who had helped to make our day a success, but I pushed that to the back of my mind. I wanted to enjoy this moment, and we were looking forward to more exciting things.

Soon we arrived at our hotel and checked in with all our stuff. I’m sure the receptionist was quite amused when she saw us arriving in our native wear with a wedding cake and lots of presents! When we got to our room though, I started to get a bit nervous and I told hubby. He didn’t want to put any pressure on me. But in my mind, I wanted to experience “my wedding night” the way I had been dreaming about it since I was a teenager. I won’t go into details, but I’ll say it went very well! Just before I fell asleep, my husband (in every sense of the word now *wink*) held me and said “”Thank you for keeping yourself for me…” and I will always treasure those words. That appreciation made all the waiting and abstaining worthwhile.

The next morning, we woke up too late to have breakfast at the hotel so we drove to the mall not too far away and had breakfast in a nice café there. Over breakfast, I marvelled at how much things would change between us. I was trying to decide whether things had changed between us as a couple apart from the wedding rings we were now wearing. Something did feel a bit different though, but I couldn’t really place a finger on it. After breakfast we strolled hand in hand through the mall before we went back to the hotel. And then I don’t know what happened, but I think all the mixed emotions I had been going through in the past week just welled up in me and I burst into tears! Hubby didn’t understand it and I really didn’t as well, but I wasn’t sad so they were tears of joy. After I had a good cry and hubby consoled me well, we spent the rest of the day lounging in our room. In the evening we went out for dinner and a movie. That was nice, and at the end of the day, I remember thinking this was a good way to start married life!

We spent our first married week together this way, apart from the day we went to say goodbye to my parents when they were leaving. We didn’t have a proper honeymoon as such because I had to go back to Nottingham to complete my dissertation. During that time though, we still had stuff to do. We contacted our gift registry and arranged for delivery of our stuff, we started designing our ‘Thank You’ cards, we sorted through all the cards and envelopes that we were given on our wedding day, we contacted our photographer and videographer to finalise our pick-up date, we made a list of people to thank and a list of people we were going to visit, etc.

After our week at the hotel, we drove down to hubby’s place (where I finished consuming the top tier of our wedding cake – so much for saving it for one year- lol!). We had to move his stuff out of his old place and into our new place together. Some days later, we had a thank you party/get-together for our hostesses, groomsmen, bridesmaids and friends. It was fun to catch up with everyone and we got great feedback from them. We were hearing stories of the people who hooked up, people who met old friends, made new ones and so on, at our wedding!

A few days later, hubby and I headed up to Nottingham for me to continue my work. Fortunately, my housemate had gone on holiday so hubby and I had the house to ourselves. I started working (or trying to work) on my dissertation while he kept me company at the library. He even helped me to do some research and organise my work. It was a very cosy arrangement, I worked during the day and we hung out for the rest of the time. Eventually he had to go back home, so a month into our marriage, we spent some time apart. I stayed in Nottingham frantically trying to complete my work because the deadline was drawing near, but I made sure I went home every weekend.

I spent the rest of my time there, practically part of the furniture in the library; working, typing, researching and doing everything to finish it, and do a good job. It was a big relief when I finally finished my 20-000 word dissertation, got it bound and submitted it! The very next day, I packed my stuff, said goodbye to Nottingham and ran home to… live happily ever after. LOL.

Sunday, September 9

Our Wedding Day!

My alarm went off early in the morning, waking me and my girls up. It was my wedding day, the day I had been waiting and planning for has finally arrived! We all got up and started chatting excitedly. One by one, we got organised and started preparing for the day’s activities. While everyone else started getting ready, taking their showers, getting their hair done and everything, I went to another room to pray. I was getting nervous and I had to calm my nerves somehow. I thanked God for our relationship, the plans and preparations we had made towards our marriage, I prayed that everything would go well throughout the day, and the journey Mr and I were about to embark on would be a blissful and happy one. Just as I finished praying, my aunt, three of my cousins, one to do my make-up, arrived at the house to help me get ready. My bridesmaids came to call me to go and shower. Meanwhile my sister (the chief bridesmaid) started laying out my ensemble for the day. She brought out my dress, gloves, shoes, jewellery, make-up, purse, bouquet and finishing touches and placed them in the dressing room.

When I stepped into the room, everyone crowded around and started helping me to get dressed. It felt a bit odd but it was fun at the same time being pampered and looked after. I just sat down patiently checking the mirror while my hair was done, my make-up was applied and my sister forced cereal down my throat. I remember protesting, but she said something like “You have to eat something to keep your energy up all day…” and everyone around agreed so I put up with it. Finally they were done with my hair and face and they brought out my white dress and fitted me into it carefully. They teased me that I had gained some weight since I was measured for the dress! Then my shoes went on, then the earrings and necklace, then the gloves, and then finally my veil. A few final touches and I was ready to go. I inspected myself in the mirror, twirling this way and that. I almost didn’t believe it was me! It was perfect.

Meanwhile the photographer and videographer had arrived. My hostess and bridesmaids were all dressed and ready, the bridesmaids were wearing lilac outfits with silver accessories, and the chief bridesmaid wore a cream dress with a lilac sash. We picked up our bouquets and posed for photographs as we walked down the stairs. Our transportation arrived just in time and we posed for more photographs as we walked out to the car. The neighbours came out of their houses to watch our little procession and we had fun posing for several shots. I remember the photographer telling me to keep smiling as he would be taking photos of me all the time. So I kept a big grin on my face all day.

After posing and taking enough photographs, my bridesmaids and chief hostess and I piled into the limo and we drove down to the church . I was feeling less nervous now and more determined to enjoy the day as much as I could, no matter what happened. At least I hoped nothing terrible would happen! We all chilled out and enjoyed the ride, talking about how the rest of the day would pan out. The church service was to begin at 11.00 am and we got there about 10.45 which was good because I really didn’t want to be late. (I had heard of a wedding ceremony where the bride arrived so late that the service began without her!)

As the limo was pulling up to the church I could see some of my friends, the groomsmen and the ushers waiting for us outside. My friends came to the car to say hello and they commented on how nice I looked, asked me if I was nervous, etc. My parents and the rest of the bridal party also came round to the limo and we took a few more photos before we lined up to go into the church. My sister went to peep into the church and she came back to tell me “The church service is about to start and your groom is waiting for you!” So we formed our procession: the flowergirls and the page boys paired up, the bridesmaids and groomsmen coupled up and led the way into the church. Then my dad took my arm and my sister carried my train and we walked slowly into the church as the processional hymn began. This was the moment when it dawned on me that I was actually getting married today! As my dad and I walked slowly down the aisle, I was trying not to cry, that would just ruin the moment (not to mention my make-up). I glanced at people in the pews as I walked past and smiled to say thank you. My dad led me to the altar and the minister took my hand and led me the rest of the way as the hymn came to an end, then he asked the congregation to sit down. So we made it to our wedding day!

I glanced at my groom, looking relaxed, proud and handsome beside me. I relaxed too and decided to enjoy the rest of the ceremony. When we sat down, he whispered to me “You look really beautiful” and I smiled at him and whispered back, “You look nice too”. My sister and the best man sat behind us on the altar and the service began. First there was a bible reading, then another hymn. After that, the minister began to speak: “Dearly beloved we are gathered here to join this man and this woman together in holy matrimony…..” It was then I noticed the congregation of family, friends and church members seated. It was amazing to think that all these wonderful people were here because of us! I noticed the church decorations were beautiful- the florist had used white and lilac flowers to decorate the altar, the aisle and the pews. My church choir had decked out so well too, with huge headties and all. It was all very exciting.

The minister continued speaking – asking the congregation if anyone “had any just cause why these two people should not be joined together, speak now or forever hold your peace…..” Thankfully nobody stood up (two days before, my cousins had threatened to punch anyone that stood up, which would have been hilarious), so he called Mr and I to recite our vows. Mr lifted the veil off my face and we began:

The minister asked Mr: "Will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together in holy matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and keep her in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?"

He said yes!

Then he asked me: "Favoured Girl, will you have this man to be your husband, to live together in holy matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honour and keep him in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"

I think I said yes too (LOL). Then we repeated our vows to each other. Mr went first:

“I (Mr), take you Favoured Girl, to be my wife, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part”.

Then it was my turn:

“I Favoured Girl, take you (Mr), to be my husband, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part”.

The words flowed quite easily because we had practiced them the day before. I thought about the enormity of those vows and I meant them from the bottom of my heart. Everyone clapped and then it was time to exchange rings. The minister blessed the wedding rings and gave them to us to exchange and recite some more promises:
“I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you and a token of our marriage. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side and that I will always be a faithful partner to you”.

After that, he said a few more words and then he declared us husband and wife! Everyone in the church clapped and cheered. Then the groom kissed his bride….. that kiss lasted about three minutes!

Moving on swiftly, the rest of the service went well – there was a short message, Mr and I went to sign the marriage register with two witnesses, after that we had thanksgiving session where my mum danced and danced lol. Everyone came out to congratulate us and it was fun! Finally, prayers were said and it was the recessional hymn and the end of the service. I remember walking out of the church, hand in hand with my new husband, grinning from ear to ear and lots of cameras flashing in my eyes. Finally we made it out of the church with the bridal party and the officiating ministers, and then we gathered round to take the official photographs.

Hubby and I stood there smiling and smiling while the officiating ministers, our family members, friends, bridal party, co-workers, church members and so on gathered round to take photos. Then we had some portraits shots taken and the crowd started moving on to the reception venue. We drove down to the reception venue in the limo together with the flowergirls and page boys. They were teasing us about the long kiss at the altar and me blushing afterwards. The ride to the reception was cool; hubby and I were chatting about how the day had gone so far and I kept looking at my finger and thinking “Wow! I’m now married!”

We got to the reception venue at about 2.30pm and the reception was due to start at 3.00 so we had to chill in the limo for a while. I didn’t mind, my sister helped me touch up my make-up and we got to take more photos. Our friends and bridal party came round to wait on us hand and foot. They got us some snacks and drinks to munch on while we waited for the opening ceremonies. At some point, I peeped into the hall to check out how it had been arranged and decorated, it was lovely! There were purple and lilac balloons, flowers, white and purple table cloths, purple napkins neatly folded on the tables, the favours were arranged in order and everything looked nice. I was really pleased and my sister-in-law had done a great job! In the meantime, my hostesses were getting ready to start their duties; they changed into their native wear and headties and lined up at the entrance to the hall. Later on when we watched the video, we saw the MC calling our parents, grandmas and the chairman to the high table. When it was time for us to go in, our coordinator and the hostesses came to get us. So we lined up and danced in: my hostesses, the bridal party and the “youngest couple in town”. It was a long procession and I danced and danced as we came into the hall. Hubby claims he danced more than me though, but I don’t agree and we still debate it till now, lol. By the time we finally got to the high table, I was already out of breath! Hubby and I sat in the middle, next to my new mum-in-law and the chairman of the occasion, and my sister and the best man sat behind us with a fan, because we were hot from all the dancing.
The reception began; my dad gave a small welcome speech, there was an opening prayer, then the buffet was open and our guests tucked in. I was almost too excited to eat, but I managed a few mouthfuls because I needed the energy. Hubby and I waved at our friends as they went past the high table. It was fun sitting on the high table observing how everything was going on. My mum made me laugh when she said she had been attending so many weddings recently and she was waiting for mine so she could sit on the high table! Meanwhile, my dad was cracking us up, telling funny jokes about married life, and the chairman was telling us how my dad was the best man at his wedding. Hubby and I were just shaking our heads in amusement. I saw the hostesses helping to serve and coordinate everything going on and I was touched. The DJ was playing some nice music and hubby remarked that everything was going well, so thank God all our months of planning paid off!
Soon it was time for the chairman’s speech and that was fun. Our chairman was my dad’s best friend that I’ve known since I was a little girl, so I was glad he agreed to be our chairman. Well I don’t think he had any choice really, lol. He gave a nice speech, some advise for us as a married couple and some anecdotes.

After his speech, it was time for us to cut our wedding cake (and hubby’s birthday cakes as well) so we got off our seats and went to the cake stand. My sister-in-law had made us a lovely 4-tier cake, and the birthday cakes I had ordered for Mr were there too. He was really pleased that I had made a note to celebrate his birthday. We cut the cake and posed for more photographs, hubby even got a “happy birthday” song! We fed each other a small piece of cake as is the tradition, to see “how we would feed each other at home”, that was alright too. I gave hubby a small piece of cake and he gave me a small piece too, and then kissed me. So sweet!

Then I had to throw my bouquet. This part was quite amusing. Hubby went back to his seat while the MC called out all the single ladies at the reception. My friends and cousins came forward, all winking and telling me to throw the bouquet to them. I think I just closed my eyes and threw it back, and then I turned to see who grabbed it. It was my good friend from uni that caught it and she held it up triumphantly. I was really pleased too cos she is a very nice girl and she deserved it. The MC said something like, “See me after the ceremony” to her and everyone burst into laughter.

The next thing was our official first dance as a couple. We had initially chosen “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie but the DJ had forgotten to bring it or something, so we danced to “Oruka” instead. Hubby and I didn’t mind too much, we still rocked it. When the song ended, the music changed to other upbeat grooves so we got dancing for like another 10 minutes.

I finally got to sit down, while my friend that caught the bouquet came up to give the toast. She went to the same uni as hubby and I did, so she took the microphone and started chatting about how I stopped coming to study in the library with her when we started dating! In my mind I was thinking, “If I catch this girl, I will deal with her. Thank God I passed my degree or else….” It was funny though and at the end she proposed a nice toast and everyone clinked glasses. On the high table, my dad was saying “Your friend has exposed all your secrets, so you used to spend more time with Mr than you did studying….” I just laughed and said “Well it’s too late now to do anything about it Daddy!”

Soon afterwards, my brother-in-law gave the vote of thanks and there was a closing prayer for the first part of the reception. Hubby and I were called back to the dance floor where we danced alone for some time, then with our bridal party, then our hostesses, then the rest of our friends. That was really fun because there were more young people than old at our wedding so the dance floor was groovy! All sorts of funny, crazy moves: the groomsmen trying to out-do each other, hubby’s English work colleagues trying to dance to Nigerian music, my uni friends forming a circle around us clapping and cheering, my twelve-year old cousin dancing better than my friends, etc. Watching the video footage of the dance floor later was hilarious. Soon the adults joined us in the dance and we continued dancing for about another half an hour, before we had to go and change into our native wear.

I was already getting tired at this point, so I welcomed the short break to sit down and catch my breath. Our coordinator got our outfits out and my aunty helped me to get dressed and tie the gele since I still don’t know how to tie a perfect knot! A quick touch up on my face and we were ready to go. Our wedding attire was packed into a box and taken into Mr’s car and we headed back into the reception hall to meet and greet our evening reception guests. I remember we had to go round the hall greeting everybody and posing for more photographs. Then we continued dancing and more guests came onto the dance floor to join (and spray) us. My sisters were helping us to pick up the money and pocketing some for themselves too! Well I don’t blame them, lol. We danced for like another hour and then went to change a second time, to continue dancing till it was about 10.00pm. By then I was tired, having been on my feet dancing for more than three hours.

Hubby and I decided to leave soon after 10.30pm because we had to check into our hotel before a certain time and he was getting tired too. So we told our bridal party that we were getting ready to leave. They helped us pack our stuff and put them in the car, including our outfits, wedding gifts, one of hubby’s birthday cakes, and the top tier of our wedding cake. The photographer called us for some last minute portrait shots just as we were trying to sneak out of the reception hall. As we were leaving, I saw our friends still rocking the dance floor to “Olufunmi”, some of them were even dancing on the stage.

We called our parents to tell them we were leaving and then all of a sudden my mum became very clingy! All throughout the ceremonies, she had been enjoying her status as mother of the bride. It was as if it just dawned on her that I was leaving her to start a new life elsewhere, and she couldn’t come with me. I felt a tiny tiny bit sorry for her, but I was also quite amused. Eventually she made me promise to call her as soon as possible and my dad took her off me. Hubby’s parents were cool, he’s the last born so they had done this several times before now! The four of them walked us to our car as we left, blessing us and wishing us all the best in our married life. I remember thinking, “Awww this is so nice, who better to send us off into our new life together than our parents?” We got into the car and waved goodbye to them as we drove off together as Mr and Mrs for the first time.

Thursday, August 23

Countdown to D-Day

This post is about the last 10 days before the wedding. The pace and excitement of the preparations picked up the day after I left Nottingham and arrived in London. As you can imagine, those remaining days were hectic - so many last minute preparations, the arrival of family and guests from far and near, lots and lots of outgoing phone calls (usually me arguing with my suppliers, or yelling at my poor hubby-to-be, or yelling at my bridal party), lots and lots of incoming calls (from people calling to say congrats, calling to RSVP at the last minute, or asking silly questions about address of the venues and such like), last minute shopping for favours and gifts, a completely out-of-nowhere second bridal shower, meeting with my hostesses, meeting with the groomsmen, final rehearsals and so on.

Friday, week before wedding: My parents, parents-in-law and grandma arrived from Lagos. Mr insisted I had to go and see them so I went to London even though I had to come back to Nottingham one last time before the wedding. I met my father-in-law for the first time that weekend. When Mr called me to say they were on the way to my house, I told my mum that this was going to be my first meeting with my father-in-law and I said if he didn't like me, well, it was too late for him to change his mind. My parents and I had laughed about it because they had already done the traditional engagement ceremony! Thankfully our meeting went well, and he said he had heard only good things about me so it didn't matter.

Sunday, week before wedding: That Sunday we all went to church as usual and it was good. At the end of the service, my aunt told me she wanted to see me for a brief discussion in the Sunday school and when we got there I was so surprised! The hall had been set up for a bridal shower and all the women in my church were seated and there was a chair in the middle for me. I was so surprised I couldn't speak for a while; I thought it was really nice of them. It was lovely, we prayed, opened presents, talked about married life scenarios and so on. I had a great time and I went home with lots of gifts. See I’m so favoured; I got two surprise bridal showers! Later that evening, my parents and I went back to Nottingham to finish packing my stuff for the next three weeks. So this is how the rest of my week went:

Monday: That morning, some of my family came down to Nottingham, I finished packing my stuff, then we went to the bridal shop to pick up my wedding dress. It was exciting to see the finished product all packed and ready to go. We drove down to London that evening. I went to my auntie’s place to pick up the flower girls’ dresses and we took them to their house. My niece was excited to try on her dress and accessories. Everything was fine, so I finalised their hair and accessories, overnight and travel arrangements with my sister-in-law. My mother-in-law had brought our native outfits for us, so I tried them on and they fitted well so that was sorted! I also booked a birthday cake for Mr because his birthday was approaching.

Tuesday: My sister arrived from the US this morning. It was good to see her and she was as excited about the wedding as everyone else. She came with our wedding rings, inscribed favour boxes, sweet bags and some jewellery. Then I met up with my friend who was also one of my hostesses. We went to Confetti to purchase the mints, chocolates and sweets for wedding favours, a wedding album, table decorations, ribbons and some gifts. Then we also went shopping for my make-up. We spent ages at the make-up counter trying lots of stuff, but I made sure we didn’t leave until I was satisfied that I had got what I wanted. Then we went to the store with out gift list to sort some things out. I’m sure she was tired of me by the time we finished that afternoon.

Wednesday: I went to get my hair done. My appointment was at noon, so before I thought I had some spare time to go shopping and who would I bump into in the street? One of my “toasters” who had been on my case for more than a year. I had stopped taking his calls after a while so I felt guilty and I tried to avoid him but it was too late! He had seen me and was already walking towards me. He said he was glad he bumped into me – until I told him I was getting married in three days’ time. He looked sad then he said “Really? So I finally lost you?” I didn’t know how to reply, I just mumbled that I was getting late for an appointment and I bolted off. Got to the hairdressers and spent 5 hours braiding my hair and I was pleased with the result. Meanwhile I was taking calls from our officiating minister, the florist, caterers and the store with our registry, each person confirming details. When I got back home, more family members and guests had arrived and the house was full!

Thursday: I had a back and forth telephone conversation with my sister-in-law this morning. She was very busy because she was decorating the reception venue and making our wedding cake. We were finalising the little details for the décor of the venue and table settings. I also met with three of my hostesses to give them their ‘geles’ and a list of their duties, lol. Then I went to the beauty salon for some pampering and to get my nails done. I had taken good care of my nails for months and they had grown very long, so I didn’t have to use extensions, they decorated my natural nails and they looked great! When I got home I gathered my sisters and cousins together and we filled all the favour boxes with sweets and mints, and tied them together with ribbons. It was fun doing that; they kept trying to eat the sweets so I had to keep an eye on them.
Later in the afternoon, I met up with Mr who was meeting up with his groomsmen. They had just taken delivery of their suits and they wanted to try them on. I tried to sneak a peak but they didn’t allow me to see their outfits. Then we discussed all the arrangements and their duties. Afterwards we hung out till late and had a great time. They were all telling me how they remembered it like yesterday when Mr told them he had met a girl and now they couldn’t believe we were getting married!

Friday: Lots of things to do today. First thing for me was to meet up with my aunt to shop for accessories for my native wear. Then my sisters and the other bridesmaids were going to get their hair done and meet up with me in the church later in the evening for rehearsals. So off we went. I met up with my aunt and after picking and choosing for an hour, we decided on the shoes, the bag and beads and made our purchase. When we left the market, I met up with Mr and our best man; they were going to have a hair cut and a shave or something like that. I told them they had better look nice the next day. Later the best man called me and joked that he was looking so nice, I might mistakenly marry the wrong groom!
It seemed like everything was going well. Until sometime between leaving the guys and getting home I lost my mobile phone! As you can imagine, that was the “wrongest” time to lose my mobile because so many people were calling me. I was meeting my friend who was my chief hostess, I was supposed to call the officiating minister to finalise the rehearsals, I was supposed to call my florist to deliver my flowers, I was supposed to call so many people! Fortunately I had some numbers stored in my diary so I got a new sim card and started calling everyone to give them my new number. But so many people tried to reach me and I didn’t get their messages, I didn’t get my original number restored until 2 weeks after the wedding.
Meanwhile, other things were going to plan. My cousins went to the hall with the table decorations and favour boxes, Mr’s birthday cakes arrived which was great, my chief hostess who was staying with me overnight arrived; my sisters and the other two bridesmaids came to join us and we went for the rehearsal. When we got there, the guys were already there. We practiced the procession and everything else we were supposed to with the officiating minister and it was cool. Just as we were leaving, the florist arrived to start decorating the church. Mr and his guys headed off to the reception venue to start putting things together. Afterwards they hung out at a friend’s place playing PS2 games all night. (I was really glad Mr decided not to go to a bar or club for his bachelor’s eve). My bridesmaids, chief hostess and I headed back home to make plans and pick up our outfits. I saw the bridesmaids’ outfits for the first time, thank goodness they were nice! Then we called a cab to take us to our place for the night – we were going to get a hotel but my auntie’s friend was going on holiday and she offered to let us use her house so that was great. When we got there, we planned the morning’s activities with military precision (lol, the minister had warned us not to get to the church late) so that we had enough time to get ready. We ordered Chinese, had our facials and settled in for the night. Around 11.00pm the florist delivered my bouquet and the flowers for the bridesmaids and flowergirls and she remarked that I looked calm and relaxed for a soon-to-be bride. I guess I realised that I couldn’t do anything more so there was no need to stress anymore! At midnight, I called Mr to wish him a happy birthday and before he hung up he said “See you at the altar tomorrow!” Awwwwww. Afterwards, my girls and I prayed, set our alarms and went to bed with just a few hours to go before the merry celebrations!

Friday, July 27


In the previous post, I might have given the impression that all the wedding plans went smoothly without any problems. Now that won’t be honest! Anyone who has planned an event like this would know how stressful it is. Tempers can easily fly when everyone disagrees with suggestions for something. I think I was quite calm in the beginning, but as time went on, stress levels rose and I noticed I was getting more impatient with everyone. I just hope I didn’t turn into a full-fledged Bridezilla though!
Planning wasn’t always easy or smooth sailing. We had a long list of things we had to do. Mr and I divided the tasks as best as we could, and we delegated some things to our close family and friends. Whenever we met up, we would discuss and compare notes on who has done what. And then we would decide what task was next on the list. We spent long hours on the phone discussing and arguing. At some point, all our conversations were about planning and we often started with “have you sorted out….?” Or “did you confirm….?” I’m sure my housemate got tired of me after a while because I was always arguing with someone on the phone.
When I look back now, it’s a wonder Mr and I didn’t call off the wedding. We had arguments over almost everything. We argued over the budget, we argued over the number of guests, we argued over the wedding invitations, we disagreed with each other’s choice of music, we argued over our families’ suggestions, we disagreed over the choice of wedding rings, we disagreed over the wedding favours and so many other things! Fortunately, after arguing, we often compromised or came to an agreement. And thank goodness, there were a few things we could agree on.
I was in charge of sorting out my wedding dress and accessories, my hair and make-up bridesmaids’ outfits, hostess outfits, the caterers, the wedding cake, flowers, venue decorations, favours, choosing music, the gift list/registry, the wedding website, and wedding colours. Mr was in charge of: the official paperwork, booking the reception venue, booking the bridal cars, ordering wine and drinks, invitations and postage, the wedding programme, his groomsmen outfits (once I had chosen the colours), choosing the photographer and videographer, choosing wedding rings, booking the DJ and so on. We both had to choose our friends for the wedding party, get measured for traditional outfits, and draw up a guest-list of everyone we wanted to invite.
I remember making dozens of phone calls everyday and spending countless hours online researching stuff. I joined The Knot wedding planning website and found a lot of their suggestions useful.
I think the first thing I started doing was looking for a wedding dress. We know how important that is! I spent hours browsing through several websites, looking at several wedding magazines, and several catalogues and brochures. Eventually, I chose a few styles and armed with the print-outs in my bag, I marched off to the bridal shops.
The first time I stood outside a bridal shop, I didn’t know what to expect. I got there just as the shop was opening. As I stood outside one of the attendants came to say hello and invited me to come in. Then I told her I was looking for a wedding dress. She looked at me and asked, “Are you the bride?” and I said yes. And she had this funny look on her face, like I didn’t look old enough to be wandering around in bridal shops. Anyway I told her what I was looking for and she went off to bring four gowns for me to try on. I must admit it was a funny experience the first time I tried on a wedding dress and looked at myself in the mirror. It was odd but exciting at the same time. I tried on all four gowns but I didn’t want any of them. I told the attendant I would be back later as I had a lecture soon and I had to head back to campus. She gave me their catalogue to take with me. So it was back to the drawing board to look at different styles on the internet.
Some days later, I booked appointments at three bridal shops and I took a friend along. I think I tried on 12 different dresses and I still didn’t choose any of them! Then one weekend my sister came to Nottingham and we went looking again. We tried five bridal stores. Each time I tried on a dress she didn’t like, she gave me a funny look. Eventually we went to a store and I tried on a dress that caught my eye and it was perfect! Phew! So I asked the fitting assistant a few questions and they said it would be ready in time for July if I ordered it straight away. So that was sorted!
My bridesmaids and I couldn’t agree on outfits for a long time. One of my sisters in the US was a bridesmaid and the others were in the UK so we had to choose on her behalf. When we went shopping, we argued on styles so much that I gave up on them. I told them the colour and I told them that they must turn up on the wedding day in that colour otherwise I won't let them join my train. Eventually they sorted themselves out and went shopping by themselves and chose their gowns. They described it to me but I actually didn’t see their outfits until the night before the wedding!
Another cause of arguments was the catering. We had to estimate the number of invited guests we were going to have. But knowing our Nigerian settings, we had to plan for extras! That was so hard – trying to balance a sensible catering budget with an unknown number of guests. I had several arguments with my aunt over how much extra food we should have. She was saying we should plan for up to 300 extra plates of food. I was saying I didn’t want to waste my money on too much food, since I had other things I could do with that money! She was adamant that we needed more than enough; we should hire more crockery etc. I was telling my aunt that if anything went wrong with the food, I wouldn’t forgive her. Finally we dragged my mum and the caterers into the argument and they reassured me that everything would be fine.
Then there was the one with my sister-in-law over the flowergirls' outfits. I liked one thing and the mum's wanted something else. After countless telephone calls, trips to department stores and discussions over bridal catalogues, I was at my wits end. Fortunately I was rescued by my mum's sister who designed something that we were all happy with. Phew.
I think I had one more quarrel with my aunty saying that I shouldn't wear a strapless gown. We really had a big row over that one. What? After I had spent so much time, effort and money into picking the dress, then I can't wear it? No way. The argument raged for ages. My aunty reported me to my parents, saying the dress was too revealing. My dad offered to buy me a new dress a week to the wedding if it would put an end to the arguments. I absolutely refused. In the end, she backed down and I was able to wear my lovely dress.
There were several other hair-raising moments and screaming matches, but I can't describe all of them. It was a lot of fun though. In the end, when everything finally came together, all the hard feelings melted away and everyone involved was smiling.

Thursday, July 12

Trusting God

Update! I decided to continue the post and make it one long post instead of two short ones. I continued from where I stopped......

I mentioned in the previous post that I really learnt to trust God during this stage in my life. When I look back now, I see that there is indeed a God, without whom I cannot do anything. If I ever feel discouraged, or it seems like God is not hearing me anymore, I remember how He helped us when we were planning our wedding. Well in February, Mr and I sent off our applications for the Certificate of Approval from the Home Office. We had been told that it could take up to 13 weeks to process. I was already a bit worried because we had so little time. But we had no choice, we could only pray that it came back on time. Meanwhile we decided to continue with wedding preparations. The best way to explain how things were going is to break it into some sort of monthly time-line. Here goes:

January 2005:
We decided to get married and announced the wedding date to our family. Our families start making their plans. I informed the church and the Registry. Registrar tells us of the new rule. We need to apply for a COA from the Home Office. We tell our families of this new development, but we assure them that all is well and the wedding plans will still go ahead. I have my first semester exams. We started the application process for the COA.

February 2005:
We send our applications to the Home Office. Everyone is praying that it will be returned on time, so that we can finalise the rest of the legal requirements before the proposed wedding date. In the meantime, wedding plans are in full swing. We agree on budget and size, choose our wedding colours, draw up a guest list, set up a wedding website and send out "Save-the-Date" emails. Mr chooses his groomsmen, I choose my wedding dress and paid the initial deposit, choose my bridesmaids and hostesses. We continue attending marriage classes, while I also carry on with my lectures at uni.

March 2005:
No word from the Home Office, not even an acknowledgement letter. Anyway we carry on planning. We book the reception venue, contact a caterer, contact a florist, print the invitation cards, decide on the wedding cake, book music for reception, choose wedding rings and draw up a registry/gift list. We ordered our wedding bands from the US so we had to get them delivered to my sister. It's my mum's 50th birthday and my parents come to the UK for a brief visit. Everyone in my family is informed of the coming wedding. Later on, we send our measurements to my mum in Nigeria, who is busy making plans of her own. Our families meet up and get on well (yay!) and they start planning the traditional ceremonies. Meanwhile, I chose my dissertation topic and I have to start researching before everyone else so that I can have a head start.

April 2005:
April is a very busy month. Still no word from the Home Office. I make two telephone calls to them. The first time, they told me that they will deal with our application but there is a huge backlog, and that's why it's taking long. The second time, I spoke to a different person who told me that their computer systems are playing up but our application was in the queue. I start getting worried. Meanwhile, it's Easter break from uni. Mr and I go to London because we have so many people to meet and things to do in a short space of time. First we have a meeting with our officiating minister and he asks us how far with the COA. We tell him that we have made the application and we are waiting for the Home Office to send it back to us. Afterwards, Mr meets up with his guys to sort out their groomsmen outfits. Then I meet up with my bridesmaids and we go shopping for their dresses. We couldn't agree so we leave it till later. The next day, I meet up with one of my hostesses to choose their head ties. Eventually we settle for something we both liked. Afterwards, we went to the Department Store to update my gift list. The next day Mr and I go and check out the reception venue. We meet with the caretaker and go through a list of questions we have. Everything seems fine so we are happy with that. Mr's sister-in-law offers to bake our wedding cake and decorate the reception venue for free, since that is what she does for a living. My aunt offers to pay for the photographer and videographer . That was very nice indeed! After the Easter break, I go back to Nottingham and back into the thick of coursework and lectures. I also start making progress on my dissertation.

May 2005:
Still no word from the Home Office! Mr and I are getting really worried now. We get a lawyer to advice us on what we can do. He said we should write to them and request that they speed up our application. I sent off a letter, hoping and praying they will respond. I followed up the letter with several phone calls to no avail, nothing seemed to change.
While all this is going on, Mr said we had to send out the wedding invitations! I was feeling so nervous and doubtful. How can we be sending invitations for a wedding that is hanging in the balance? I could just imagine having to call each of our guests to tell them that the wedding had been postponed due to "unforeseen circumstances". I was getting so frustrated and stressed out with the whole thing. In a moment of despair, I went on my knees and prayed. I poured out my frustration. I prayed without knowing the exact words to say, but I know that God knew what I was feeling so it didn't matter. After I had been kneeling down for over an hour, God answered me. I was reminded of when I had prayed for a husband and He had answered me (post link). I was reminded of the fact that God was there when we started our relationship (post link). I remembered that we had prayed even when we had set the wedding date as a joke 2 years before and He had been listening! Now as I was worried, God was trying to tell me that He had already answered our prayers long ago. Indeed He had planned our paths all along, nothing of this was my own doing. So there was no need for me to be worried. All I had to do was to hold on to my faith and trust Him to do the rest. I felt much better after I finished praying and I had enough faith to remove the seeds of doubt that the enemy was trying to plant in my mind. So, I called Mr and told him it was okay and the wedding invitations went out to all the guests.
It's also my birthday this month. I have a get-together and Mr comes to Nottingham. Most of my friends hadn't met him so it's a good chance to introduce the groom. My friends are invited to the wedding and they are excited. School work continues: I have second semester exams so I stop wedding planning for 2 weeks to concentrate on revision. After exams wedding plans continue to go ahead: I finalise the menu with the caterers, order favour boxes and other gifts, my bridesmaids finally decide on their dresses and accessories, I organise the outfits and hairstyles for the flowergirls and pageboys, meet up with the florist to discuss options and try some new make-up.

June 2005:
It was less than 8 weeks to the wedding and we still hadn't heard back from the Home Office. I was getting tired of getting phone calls from concerned family asking us if we had "any news?" from the IND. Nice though it was, they were only adding to my worry. Sometimes I had so much faith that God was going to make a way. But sometimes I was very doubtful. Eventually we got another lawyer. He advised us to get our local Member of parliament involved. He also wrote another urgent letter to the Home Office. Mr and I continued making phone calls to them. They were still telling us the same old story: our applications were in the queue, and no, they couldn't be speeded up. Our parents too were getting worried. They were making plans for our traditional engagement ceremonies back home. So every time I called them, they would express concern over the delay of our COA. I would tell them not to worry, that everything would still work out. At some point, Mr and I were thinking that if the COA didn't come, we might carry out the ceremonies anyway and then get the official documents later! But that would be a sham and we didn't want that. So we just had to continue praying everyday.
Plans and preparations continued though. After my exams, I went for my first wedding dress fitting. It felt surreal to be standing in front of a mirror in my wedding dress! I asked for a few adjustments to be made, and then I booked in for a second fitting. I had to go to London for a while to sort some things out. I had a meeting with three of my hostesses and we planned the wedding itinerary. Then came back to Nottingham. I went shopping for my wedding accessories: shoes, veil, tiara, gloves and jewellery. Then I had a final consultation with the florist and we agreed on the flowers for me, my train and the church decorations. We made finishing touches to our wedding website. Our gift list went live around the middle of June. It was exciting to check it and see stuff that people had bought for us. I booked an appointment to get my hair and nails done a week before the wedding, and went for three beauty appointments. I also continued working on my dissertation. I had a meeting with my supervisor and confessed to him that I was going to take time off during the summer to get married. Fortunatley he was a very nice guy and he suggested that the more I could do before the wedding, then the better for me when I came back. So I got busy and did a fair bit of research and writing in June.

July 2005:
Gosh so many things happened this month! Time seemed to fly like a blur because I was so busy. I'll write about the final weeks of preparation in detail in my next post. For now, I'll summarise. After all the months of anticipation, worries, anxiety and prayers, we finally got our documentation! It was such a huge relief. As soon as we could arrange it, Mr came to Nottingham and we went to the office together to get everything sorted. When we finished there, I went to my room so happy and jumping up and down for joy. I probably danced more that day than I did on the wedding day itself, lol. As soon as we told our parents and family that everything was sorted, the nervous anticipation disappreared and every one started getting excited. I had my second dress fitting and I was satisfied with the dress. Yay!! So I paid for the balance and booked a pick up date. My friends in Nottingham organised a surprise bridal shower for me, that was really cool. We had a great time, it was food, fun and games, and some very interesting discussions! Our parents arrived a week before the wedding day (and I met my father-in-law for the first time!), then I packed my bags, picked up my wedding dress and Mr and I headed to London. More family arrive from everywhere and the countdown to the big day begins!

Thursday, July 5


As I mentioned in the previous post, I got back to Nottingham in January 2005, and Mr. and I had decided to start making plans for the wedding. We felt that it was God’s will for us and He was going to make things happen the way we had prayed. We had set the date for 23rd of July so we had only about 6 months to plan everything from start to finish. I had exams in January so I put planning out of my mind for the first two weeks so that I could concentrate. It was after exams that I really started working on my very long wedding to-do list. You would think that since we had God’s 100% backing, that everything would go smoothly right? Wrong! Trust the enemy to put obstacles in your path and doubts in your mind.
Around mid-January, I called my pastor in my home church in London to inform him of our proposed wedding date. I also wanted to know what procedure we would have to take to get married. At the time, Mr. and I didn’t have any friends who had recently got married, so we had to find out most things ourselves. Well the pastor told me that I had to tell him who I wanted to officiate the wedding and where it would take place. Apparently, not every pastor or minister is authorized to officiate a wedding, and not every church building is licensed to hold weddings in the UK. So I told him that I wanted him to officiate and I wanted my base church to be the venue for the church service. Fortunately, he is authorized to carry out weddings and my church is a licensed venue. Second thing he asked me to do was to ring the church secretary to inform her about the date so that she could put it in the church calendar and she will tell me more about the legal requirements and the process of getting married in the UK. No problem so far. I called the church office and spoke to the church secretary. I informed her of the date and she looked it up in the church calendar and said it was available so she wrote it down. Then I asked her what we needed to do. She told me a long list of procedures: we needed to go and give notice of marriage to our local registry office, the registry need at least 14 days notice although the norm for this was 8 weeks, we needed to fill out some forms and pay a fee, the Registrar would then issue us a marriage schedule, we would bring this schedule back to the church, the officiating minister must sign this, before a marriage certificate can be issued etc. Basically it was going to be some looooong process. Now to complicate it further, we were intending to get married in our church in London, but neither of us was based in London during that period. Well I thanked the secretary for the useful information and hung up with a promise to call back as soon as I had sorted everything out. Feeling overwhelmed already, I called Mr. and left a message for him, and then I called the registry office.

The nice lady I was speaking to asked me lots of questions. I gave them all the information that they needed. Everything was going fine until she asked me if Mr and I were British citizens and I said we were not. She asked what status we were in the UK. I told her that we were both Nigerians, I was a student and Mr had a work permit. She said I should hold on for a second. She came back on the line and said that there was one more thing we would need to do. Apparently in 2005, the UK government decided to start clamping down on fake marriages involving immigrants, who get married solely for the purposes of obtaining British citizenship. So as from that time, any non-UK person planning to get married in the UK must obtain permission from the Immigration Department. If everything is fine, the Immigration Department will then issue the intending couple a Certificate of Approval before they can get married. I was thinking, “Oh great. We have another bridge to cross.” I thanked the lady and rang Mr back and left another message on his phone about what the lady at the registry had said. Then I went to research into the new rule on the IND website. I found out that we would have to apply (and pay for the privilege) for the Certificate of Approval separately and it would take up to 13 weeks to process. 13 weeks! Remember our proposed wedding date is in July and we were already approaching February.
That evening Mr and I discussed it and we decided to send the applications right away without further delay, in the hope that we would get the certificate back, and be able to proceed with all the other steps we had to take. So two days later, we filled the forms and everything and sent our application off.

Now, in the meantime we were faced with this conundrum: should we put a hold on the wedding plans until we got the certificate or should we continue planning while we were waiting?

We prayed about it and we decided that we would go ahead with planning. Knowing that we had six months, and time was not exactly on our side, we thought it was better to keep plans going steady. That way we would be on schedule if and when the Certificate arrived. So we continued making our wedding plans.

Monday, June 25

Making Plans

Seems like I haven't updated in ages! So much going on, apologies to everyone.

In the hectic period of December 2004, when I had all the coursework deadlines, exam revision and things to do, I felt God was telling us that His plan was for us to get married in summer 2005. I was trying to push the thought out of my mind, thinking this was absolutely impossible. I was facing an even more hectic 2nd semester as my course workload was going to increase, plus I had a dissertation to write that summer. I was worrying about how to tell our family that we were planning to get married in the next year. I was worrying that there wasn't enough time to plan a successful wedding.
Eventually we had our Christmas break from uni. I remember that holiday clearly. In the middle of Christmas celebrations, revising for January exams and what not, I was worrying and worrying. Mr and I came back to London and started talking seriously about it. We put all our concerns and worries into prayers. In the end we decided to go ahead with it, that we will do as much as we could and then let God take control of the rest. We tentatively chose a date in July 2005 (I remembered we had jokingly mentioned the date as a possibility in the past, see here) and so we began the planning process.
First thing to do was to inform our families so that they could start making their own plans. On New Year's day in 2005, myself, Mr and my two sisters went to spend the day with his older brothers and their families. From there, we called my parents and told them of our plans. I was dreading the call because I expected my dad to hit the roof. Surprisingly, he didn't. He asked us a few questions. Some stuff about me having to finish my degree and make sure I pass my exams. I promised that the wedding won't affect my studies in any way. And then he said it was okay! (That's some faith). He said he and my mum would start putting things in place. That went well, I thought. Then we called Mr's parents. They sounded pleased too, and said they would start putting things in place at their own end. When we hung up, Mr and I looked at each other and said something like "so we are really going to do it this year!" and went to announce the happy news to the rest of the family. It was like "Hey everyone, we are getting married in July!" If anybody was worried or surprised, they didn't show it. Everyone started talking at once. His older brothers started asking Mr about plans to bring their parents over because we said we wanted the wedding to be in England. My sister-in-law started discussing about planning every detail, asking about my bridal train and offering to help. All the kids were jumping up and down and telling me they wanted to be my flowergirl or pageboy and were already asking what they would wear. My sisters started planning their summer holidays around the wedding as they were going to be bridesmaids, naturally. It was a bit surreal, I was in a daze, my mind was swirling with so many questions and ideas and it was just beginning to sink in that I was getting married soon. Mr on the other hand was already talking and then I realised, right Favoured Girl, snap out of it, there's so much to do and so little time. By the time we left his brother's house, I was already dreading how busy I was going to be over the next few months.
Over the next few days, we informed other members of our families, our pastors and our friends. I remember telling my good friend on the same course as me, and she sounded excited. But she expressed concern over how I was going to cope at uni with the added stress of planning a wedding. I must have sounded more confident than I felt, cos I told her I don't know, with God all things are possible (while agreeing with her and wondering what I had gotten myself into!).
Soon the holidays were over and I had to go back to Nottingham. Mr and I agreed that we would meet up once a month in London, aside from the marriage classes, so that we could deal with issues that we couldn't sort out over the phone, visit the necessary people, meet vendors, look at venues and so on. You can just imagine us trying to squeeze everything we had to do in 2 weeks into a single day everytime we met in London lol. After many calm (not!) conversations, we drew up a budget for the wedding and got the ball rolling.
I got back to Nottingham, resumed lectures and started revising for exams. Some of the lecturers were already talking about the summer dissertation. During one class, the lecturer was giving us advice on how to manage our time mroe effectively over the summer. He gave us this sage advice: "Don't be like one of my students last year who finished her exams in June, went home and got married over the summer, and then failed her dissertation because she didn't have enough time to research and write it properly". I could have laughed but I couldn't because I was in the same situation. My two friends in the class turned to look at me with funny looks on their faces. After the lecture, they teased me saying "Did you hear what the lecturer said? One student did what you are planning to do and she failed!" I knew at once that I was going to have to be much more organised with my work and with the wedding plans. And boy did I become organised. I made very good use of my diary, appointment book and the academic year planner on my wall. I made a time-able for everything I was doing every hour of the day. It meant I was constantly busy, because if I wasn't studying, then I was planning. If I got tired of studying, I would do some wedding planning. And if I got tired with all the planning, I would take a breather and go and study! I can definitely say that during those months between January and July 2005, I was never bored.
During those months, I also really learnt to trust God more. There were some things that could not have happened without God's divine help, but I'll talk about them in the next few posts.

Wednesday, June 6

Marriage Classes

Just as I was settling back into life on campus, lectures and coursework assignments, I got a call from Mr one day. He told me that he had gotten a call from my aunt, who had gotten a call from one of the coordinators in our church. Apparently, my name and Mr's name had been put down to attend the marriage preparatory classes without our knowledge. They were calling to check up on us to ask why we hadn't attended the first two meetings! Well we had no idea! Who wrote our names down on the list of people getting married? Till today we don't know. Anyway, my aunt had called Mr and persuaded him that we were ready to start attending these classes, as we had been engaged for over a year and we were serious about getting married in the near future. Mr was now telling me that he had agreed to the classes. We were to attend them once a month. They were being organised by my church in London. At first I was fuming. What? In the middle of my busy schedule already, you want me to be travelling to London every month for marriage preparation classes? Do they know that I am reading my books here? How am I going to fit this class into my time-table now?
Anyway Mr calmed me down and explained it to me that it was a requirement by the church if we were planning to get married soon. Plus he would have to attend as well, and that way we could meet up every month and hang out, since the classes were only about two hours or so. I asked him if he would foot my travelling bill and he said yes. Eventually, I agreed to attend the marriage preparation classes.

The plan was this: I would leave Nottingham very early, around 7.00am and get to London for 9.30, meet Mr at the station and we would attend the preparation class. Then we would hang out for the rest of the day. Around 8.00pm he would drop me back at the station and head for his town and I would jump back on my coach or train and head back to my town. Since he was paying for my tickets, it wasn't a big deal after all! So for the next seven months, once a month we both left out respective towns and headed to London on a Saturday morning. I remember telling my flatmate the first month that I was going to London the next day. She asked me when I would be coming back and I said - tomorrow. She must have been amused.

The first time we turned up for the class, we were asked if we had set a wedding date and we said no, we were just going with the flow. The classes were quite interesting actually. There were four other couples attending at the same time as us. Our tutors were a pastor and his wife, and sometimes the Senior Pastor and his wife came in to add to the discussions. They covered every topic about marriages, (such as: commitment, the marriage vows, dealing with in-laws, handling finances, forgiveness, sex, submission, handling conflict, love languages etc) and we had a question and answer session as well. As the classes were taught from a christian point of view, the teachings were a mixture of biblical references, practical applications and the personal experience of the writers of the course. Mr and I learnt a lot and it was interesting when we were asked practical questions of how we will apply the principles we were learning to our relationships.
While we were attending the classes, Mr and I started praying about the timing of our wedding. By the end of 2004, we were sure that God wanted us to get married in 2005. Looking at it from a human stand point, it seemed like such a crazy idea and almost impossible. I was in the middle of a challenging Masters course. We were in two separate towns far away from each other. My dad was still unaware of what was going on. And since I wanted a summer wedding, it meant we had less than 8 months to plan it all! Plus I had to write a 20,000-word dissertation about the same time as we were planning to get married. How was it all going to happen?
Let's just say that with God, all things are possible.

Wednesday, May 30

Move to Nottingham

Soon the days passed and it was time for me to move to Nottingham. Mr turned up at my doorstep on the evening of 17/09/04 to help me move all my stuff. We finally left London around 11.00pm in the night. The journey was fun though. I remember being so excited about the year ahead. I was glad to be out of the 9 - 5 work life and be going back to student life.
We arrived in Nottingham around 2.00am and popped into a filling station to buy the essentials: a map and two bottles of water. We finally located my flat after about 15 minutes squinting at the A to Z. My flatmate had already moved in, so she had put some things together. She had gone to her parents to spend the night, so she wasn't around when we got there. Fortunately I had the keys to the flat and we were able to get all my stuff in. Mr and I stayed up all night trying to unpack and arrange my stuff. Eventually we dozed off at about 5.00am.
Early the next morning I made a shopping list of things I needed for the house cos it came partly funished and it was almost bare apart from the basics. We popped out to go to Ikea (the haven for student furniture!) and Argos to get stuff. Then we went to the supermarket to stock up on groceries enough to feed an army for a month, lol.
That afternoon when we got back to the house, my flatmate was there with her parents. We introduced ourselves and they left. Mr and I got talking about visiting each other and stuff. But we both agreed that with him in Essex and me in Nottingham, we really couldn't meet up often. And I also knew that with a hectic schedule of lectures and school work, I couldn't really afford to take many weekends off. I remember feeling a bit sad too, cos that day was our second anniversary. Seemed like we had been going out for ages, really it had just been 2 years! We celebrated our anniversary with lunch and a kiss, then it was time for him to go. We promised to speak to each other everyday. I waved him off goodbye and that was it! I was now on my own in Nottingham. Fortunately I already had a group of friends there so I didn't feel too lonely.
First day of school was spent doing the normal stuff: registration on the course, getting my university username and password, registration in the library, the surgery and a welcome lecture from the Vice Principal of the Business School etc. During all these necessary trips, I met three Nigerian Masters students and I found out one of them was on my course! We swapped phone numbers and became friends at once, and we are still good friends now. We went to the freshers' fair together, signed up for the AfroCarribean society and a few other societies/clubs, located where everything was, and caught a bus tour round the university park. It was all cool stuff.
Gradually I settled into life back at uni, woke up to the shock that Masters was a whole different ball game from undergrad and made more friends. My housemate was very cool and we got on quite well. She was training to be a teacher, so she was a responsible level-headed girl. She had a boyfriend who lived and worked in Sheffield, so he came to visit once or twice a month.
Mr and I didn't see each other but we kept in touch over the phone every evening. I don't think a single day passed in that whole year that I didn't talk to him once or twice. Thank God for T-Mobile free call allowances! I missed hanging out with him though, but we made the best out of what we could.
A month after I moved to Nottingham, I invited my friends round for lunch and a discussion and from then on, it became a monthly occurrence. I'll talk more about that in future posts.

Thursday, May 10


Just before we finalised our moves out of London, I went to church one Sunday and after the service, the Senior Pastor said he wanted to see Mr and I, so we should come and visit him after church. Which was cool so we arranged the time and paid him a visit. It was a nice chilled out discussion this time. He asked us a few questions about our relationship and future plans. We told him we were engaged but we hadn't made any definite plans for our wedding yet. Then he asked us when we would most likely want to get married. I said "In about two years' time" at the same time as Mr said "Next week" and then we looked at each other in surprise. The pastor must have thought both of us were not serious. Did we not have our plans laid out yet? I was thinking, "I didn't know this guy was so keen!" LOL. The pastor then asked me why I thought we should get married in 2 years' time. I explained to him that we were making plans to live in different cities, I was due to start a Masters course in two weeks and there was no way I was going to be able to fit in a wedding with my studies. Besides my dad had only just met my boyfriend and he had no idea that we were engaged and getting that serious. The pastor said that I should not worry, and he predicted that by the end of my course, I would be married. In my mind I was thinking, "How is that going to happen?" but I kept my mouth shut. Meanwhile Mr was smiling and agreeing with the pastor when he was talking.
After we left the pastor's house, we got talking in the car. I was quite doubtful as to how we would organise a wedding while we were both taking huge steps in the next two weeks. Then there was the small problem of informing our parents. Eventually we decided to leave things for a bit as they were. We would revisit the issue later on.

Wednesday, May 9


After getting the crush out of my system, I was swimming in the land of bliss in my relationship. Everything was fine. Until six weeks later. Mr called me one day to give me some news. The good news was that he had gotten a job. Yay! The bad news? The job was outside London so he would have to move away. What!?
Okay fine, I knew he had been job hunting since he finished his Masters. Okay I admit I knew he had gone for a few interviews outside London. I can also admit that he told me he had been called for a second interview at some town far away from civilisation. But it hadn't really dawned on me that he might actually get the job, accept their offer and pack his belongings out of London. I had never pictured us being in a 'long-distance' relationship. Fair enough we would still be in the same country, but it just wouldn't be the same anymore! We would be in different cities, so we won't be able to just meet up and hang out whenever we felt like it. He won't be able to pick me up from work anymore. I can't visit him knowing that I can easily catch a tube back to my own house. We will have to book trains to see each other.... and for how long will we be in separate cities again??
All these thoughts were running through my head as he started telling me all about the job, why it was a good move for his career, why he has decided to accept the offer, his plans for the future, etc. I listened in silence. One part of me was thinking, "yeah go for it!" and another part of me was thinking "you can't be serious, what about us?". Eventually he stopped talking and asked me what I thought and I almost burst into tears. I said I needed to think about it. He said he didn't have much time, as he had to give the company his response in less than a week. I told him we should sleep on it and discuss it again when we met up at the weekend.
In the meantime, I went to agonize over this latest turn of events. I thought that telling him not to go for the job would be a completely selfish thing to do. So what was my option? Tell him to go for it? So what about us? I was worried about what the future would hold for us. Eventually I prayed about it but I was still very worried.
Some days later I got a letter from a university. I had applied to them the year I graduated to do my Masters, but when I got a job, I deferred my entry for a year. They were now writing to invite me back to the course. Right, so something more for me to decide. That evening I told Mr about the possibility of me going away for a year at university outside London. So both of us had these decisions to make. He was about to go off to the East of England for a job, and I was about to go off to the Midlands to study! How complicated is that?
What to do? More prayers. I prayed for Mr and his job offer, trying not to pray selfish I also prayed about my offer of admission to the Uni of Nottingham, should I leave my job, leave my family and friends in London and go? I told God about my worries for our relationship and the fact that we would be in two different cities for at least a year.
For some days we discussed it back and forth. Eventually I told Mr that I felt at peace with his plans to go for the job. I also told him that I felt God wanted me to go to Nottingham for my Masters. The timing was convenient as well. I told my parents also that I might be leaving my job in London to go and continue my studies in Nottingham, and they seemed fine with it.
We talked about what the distance would do in our relationship. We would obviously have to rely mostly on phone calls and texts to stay in touch. I was thankful that at least we were both still in the UK and T-mobile gives us free call allowance! We decided that we'll talk about visiting each other once we had settled in to our respective locations.
So in a few weeks, we started making plans. Mr accepted the job and went off to look for accommodation in the town. He set a date for moving out of his place. I emailed the uni and told them that I was accepting the place on the course. I handed in my notice at work and started making plans to move. The uni organised an accomodation event that I went to. There, I met a nice English girl. She was a fellow postgrad student who was also looking for a flat close to campus too. We found a lovely 2-bed flat close to campus and we signed the contract there and then.
Soon everything was arranged. Mr moved out of London first. I remember going to his flat to move his stuff out and thinking of the fun times we had shared in that flat. I was going to miss it. Then a week later, he moved into a flat in the new town. He still had some stuff to do in London for a while so I saw him quite often in that month. In the meantime, I quit my job and my colleagues gave me a lovely send-off! I also told my friends and ushering team in church that I was moving away. They all said they would miss me. Awwwww.... Before we left though, the senior pastor told me he wanted to see Mr and I, so we agreed to meet him at home one Sunday after church.
So here we were, stepping out in faith into unknown pastures...

Wednesday, April 25

Confused (2)

Continued from previous post -

After I hung up the phone call, I sat there thinking. "What this guy was up to? He was coming to England to see me? What do we have to talk about?"

I had thought we were good friends and that was it. Fine, we had a thing for each other, but it never developed so...? I contemplated telling Mr about it but I didn't. What would I even tell him? "Hey guess what, my old crush from Nigeria is coming to see me?" What would he think? So I decided against it.

I was also wondering if I should just ignore him and cut him off completely. But I thought, for the sake of our long friendship, I wouldn't be rude to him so I'll be nice. I would talk to him and make him realise that there was no way we could be together anymore. But there was no reason why we couldn't remain friends.

Sure enough, I got a call from him the next day. He said he would be around for three weeks. Men those three weeks were the most confusing time of my life! He wanted to see me, but I kept making excuses, giving him reason for us not to meet. I wasn't sure what I would say or do if I saw him face to face. I wasn't sure of myself, knowing that I was still attracted to him.

Nevertheless, we spoke to each other everyday. We talked and talked about everything that happened back in high school, we talked about our friendship and crushes. He told me about how he had really liked me from way back in high school. So one day we decided to retrace the events of the past years to see how or why we didn't get together. One conversation went like this:

Him: FG, you know I've always liked you, right from when we were friends in high school

Me: Really?

Him: Yes

Me: I guessed you liked me, but I also knew that you liked my friend (let's call her H)

Him: Yes I liked H for some time but in the end I still liked you more

Me: Well you see, I knew you liked H, so there was no way I was going to get involved in a love triangle. That would have been messy cos we are friends

Him: There was no triangle. I stopped liking her

Me: Ok, then why didn't you ever ask me out?

Him: I wasn't sure how you felt about me

Me: You could have taken the chance

Him: I know, but I didn't want to spoil our friendship if you had said no. I thought it would be better to have you as a friend than nothing at all.

Me: But I liked you, so I would not have said no

Him: I didn't know you liked me

Me: I did, but I was definitely not going to ask you out

Him: So you liked me all along?

Me: Yes, but I got tired of hoping you would notice, so I pushed you out of my mind and moved on with my life

Him: Awww

Me: Yep you had your chance but you didn't use it. Even after high school

Him: After high school you told me you had a boyfriend

Me: That's true, but I heard you had a girlfriend as well

Him: Who told you that?

Me: It doesn't matter anymore now, does it?

Him: Ok I had one, but I still wanted to be with you. But you left Nigeria not long after

Me: No, I left a whole year after high school

Him: And you were not sure when you would come back

Me: Yes but I saw you two years later

Him: And we both had partners but you promised that you were going to marry me

Me: Are you for real? I thought that was a joke

Him: No I was serious

Me: Well I'm sorry. Shortly after my holiday, I met my current boyfriend and now I'm engaged to him

Him: When I heard you were engaged, I cried

Me: You did what?!

Him: It's true. My mum saw me and asked what the matter was. And I told her all about you, how you were the one girl I really liked, how I was going to marry you but now you were engaged to someone else

Me: (shocked) Incredible

Him: That tells you how serious I was

Me: Awww, I see. I guess we just was never meant to be. You do know that I'll be getting married soon don't you?

Him: Yes, and I envy the guy so much. He's taken you away from me. You are the love of my life

Me: Stop saying that

Him: It's true

Me: Ok o. So will you attend the wedding if I invite you?

Him: I'm not sure. I might stand up if the minister asks if anyone has a reason why the couple may not be joined

Me: Eh, please don't do that o

Him: Or when the minister says "You may kiss the bride", I'll have to look outside the window instead. I can't watch another guy kiss you

Me: Sorry o, but he's about to become my husband

Him: That hurts

Me: :laughing:

Okay, I'll admit it. It was fun talking to him and it was very flattering too in a way because I knew that he liked me. Before long, all the old feelings came back and I felt drawn to him again. The thoughts of "if only I wasn't engaged to someone else" crept into my mind. (Now that's dangerous). Then I started feeling guilty. For one thing, I was spending more time talking to this guy than to my fiance. I was enjoying the trips down memory lane, his professions of love and the like. I wondered if this meant I was cheating, maybe not physically, but emotionally. But I was now more confused than ever before. I knew I had to stop it before things got out of control.

Around this time, it was Mr's birthday. I had been talking to this guy the night before when Mr tried to call me and I ignored his call. The next day I felt so guilty when I called him to wish him a happy birthday. We planned to meet in the evening after work. All day at work I was so restless and jumpy, even my manager noticed that something was wrong with me. After I left the office, the guy called me again and we talked throughout my journey to meet up with Mr. Eventually I had to tell him to get off my phone cos I was meeting my fiance. We went out for dinner and I gave Mr his birthday presents. To make me feel even worse, Mr was sooo happy and excited that evening. He was telling me how I was such a wonderful girlfriend and how he's been so happy since he met me etc. In my mind I was like "Oh no, why is this guy making me feel even more guilty now?"

At the end of the evening, I was so relieved when he dropped me off at home and I could do some thinking. I called my sister and told her what had been going on. She just laughed and said "How can you be confused? I thought you knew Mr was the man for you? How can you be drawn to another guy? Fair enough, you liked him before, but that's in the past now. Forget about him. Okay if you are really confused, pray that God should remove the feelings for this guy that is disturbing you".

I thought, well here's an idea! I could pray about it. Why didn't I do that before now? So first thing the next morning, I prayed to God to help me sort my emotions out. And God answered! It seemed like God was telling me some things:

1) Anything that takes away my peace is not God's desire for me.
2) I had more control over my emotions that I thought - if I stop encouraging the feelings for this guy, they would go away.
3) He did not allow me to date this guy because he would have been a big distraction for me
4) God's plan for my future was linked to my fiance and no one else.
5) It is not everyone I meet or feel attracted to that is meant to be in my life.
6) Of course I would get tempted sometimes, but it's what I do that determines the outcome.

Immediately I finished praying, I felt at peace again. All the clouds of confusion seemed to have been miraculously lifted. So God was still in control after all! I pondered everything for a long time. Sometimes I don't understand God's love for me. God loves me so much that He can prevent me from dating someone so that I would not miss the blessings in store for me. It made sense to me now.

Later that evening, I met up with Mr and I told him everything. At first I was worried about how he might react, but he just shrugged. It wasn't even a big deal to him. He said it was natural thing, and what matters is how I handled it. I loved him even more for that.

In the final week before my old crush left, I'm sure he noticed that my behaviour towards him had changed. I was now calmly telling him to forget about anything happening between us. I explained to him that we can be friends but nothing more. Knowing what I now knew, I agreed to meet up with him on the day before he left. It was nice seeing him, we talked for a while and I bade him farewell.

And that was it really. I went back to my fiance and appreciated him more.

Monday, April 16

Confused (1)

This is the story of how Favoured Girl got confused.

For this post to make sense, I'm going to dig up some historical archives. Where do I begin?

Right, let's go all the way back to senior secondary school. I had just started in a new school and I was quite shy so I didn't make friends with many people at first. But after a while I started to come out of my shell. Then I was introduced to one guy who was in my set and we became friends. We clicked well, we hung out and talked and walked together and stuff. Our friendship was nothing extraordinary at first although some of our mates thought we were going out at the time.

After a while though, I started liking him more and more, but I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to risk telling him that I had feelings for him. Sometimes I felt he liked me too, and sometimes I wasn't sure, so we remained just friends for a long time.

Then after a while I started noticing that he was getting close to one of my best girl friends and she seemed to like him too! Now I was stuck in the middle. Should I go for the guy seeing as I liked him? Would I lose the friendship with my best friend? In the end, I decided that my friendship with my girl friend was not worth losing over the guy (see, I'm so loyal! so I left it. All of us remained good friends until we left secondary school.

My girl friend and I ended up going to college together. Both of us still kept in touch with this guy. He even came to see us in college on Valentine's day to take us out. One day in college we were talking about secondary school with another friend of ours and she asked us about this guy that was our friend. As we started talking about it, I asked my girl friend if she was aware of the triangle back in secondary school. She said she liked the guy, he seemed to like her too but he never made a move and she was aware that I liked him too! We laughed about it seeing that both of us had been thinking the exact same thing all along and we hadn't brought it up before.

After we were done with college, I left Nigeria for England. Before I left though, I visited the guy and we hung out and promised to keep in touch and all that. After I left Nigeria, I didn't really keep in touch with him anymore. Between adjusting to a new environment, starting a University course, making new friends and so on, I had too many other distractions. Besides I thought there was no point keeping my crush on him alive, seeing as neither of us could do anything about it. So I pushed all thoughts and emotions of this guy out of my mind.

Two years later, I went home for a holiday and saw him. Everything just came flooding back. This time I couldn't deny there was still chemistry between us. Unfortunately (or not), we were both in relationships at the time. How funny is that! I knew I liked him but there was no way I would break up with my boyfriend in England to do long-distance with him. He also didn't want to break up with his girlfriend. So what could we do? Nevertheless, we spent a lot of time together during my stay in Lagos. By the time I was leaving, his girlfriend absolutely hated me. Apparently he had been talking about me non-stop and she was tired of hearing my name. She had even found my photo in his car!

The day before my flight back to England, we met up for the last time. He asked me if I had plans to come back to Nigeria after my degree. I told him I wasn't sure. He said that if I came back, would I marry him? I didn't know if he was serious or not, so I just said yeah sure I would. So we parted and I returned to London. A few weeks of phone calls back and forth and I was feeling so conflicted. I liked him, but I couldn't see him, I couldn't date him. I was frustrated with liking someone I couldn't have, so I pushed him out of my mind again.

Then my current boyfriend at the time disappeared, and you know the rest of the story. I stayed single for a while until Mr came along. I was finally in a happy and wonderful relationship so I had no reason to think of anyone else.

After I got engaged, I received a funny phone call one day from this old crush. He said he had heard I was engaged through some friends of mine and he was very sad. He was calling to confirm if it was true that I had dumped him for someone else. I thought, "What is this guy on about, we were never in a relationship". I told him, yes it is true I'm now engaged and I'm sorry for not telling you earlier, but I didn't dump you". Then he reminded me that I had promised to come back to marry him. I was like, "Wait, I thought we were both kidding that day, you have never asked me out, you had a girlfriend, in fact you still do, so did you expect me to put my life on hold waiting for you?" Fortunately I was on a bus and I told him we really couldn't discuss it, so he should call me back some other time. He didn't call back that day so I forgot about that conversation.

Fast forward to three months later. I saw a missed call on my phone one morning from a Nigerian mobile number. I didn't know who it was, and I thought - if the call is important the person would call me back. Later that evening, my phone rang again. This time I picked up and the conversation went like this:

Favoured Girl: Hello?

Caller: Hi, Favoured Girl, it's me (it was him)

Favoured Girl: Oh hi, how are you?

Caller: I'm good. Guess what, I'll be coming to England tomorrow

Favoured Girl: Oh, erm, that's nice.

Caller: I need to see you, we need to talk. I decided that we can't talk over the phone so I'm coming over to see you in person.

Favoured Girl: Why?

Caller: Can't talk right now. I'll call you when I arrive. We need to talk about us.


To be continued...
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