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.

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