I will laugh with you, I will cry with you, you are my African Queen, the girl of my dreams
Meet the high school sweethearts Ona and Deji, who celebrated their union in September 2017 with a heartfelt Christian ceremony at All Saints Woodford Wells Church followed by glamorous celebrations at Meridian Grand with over 400 guests.
Ona and Deji, both of Nigerian heritage, were friends first and it wasn’t until Deji left sixth form to begin University when their love for each other started to blossom. The rest as they say is history and 8 years later, they got married!
Submitted by the wonderful The Wedding Filmmakers with images from the delightful Helen Abraham Photography – take a seat and enjoy the beautiful love story of Ona and Deji
Over to Deji and Ona for the glorious details!
Deji: The proposal was a real operation! Whilst we had been discussing marriage etc, I wanted to ensure it was a massive surprise.
A year before we got engaged (Winter 2015) I had taken Ona to a work Christmas dinner hosted by a work client, it was a large formal function so we got dressed up for it. Fast forward 12 months, I told (lied to) Ona that a similar event was coming up and we had been invited as guests to a function from a work client.
To support the story, I had a colleague of mine send Ona emails asking her dietary requirements and asking her to make her meal choices prior to the evening as part etc. (I even gave Ona a name of a real event which was taking place in a similar area of our real destination – just in case she checked) (Nu Bride – slick!)
So the night of the event arrived, it was Wednesday 30th November 2016. I told Ona that we would get the train down to London, and I would pick her up from her flat to go to the train station.
Upon arrival at the flat, I knocked on the door and Ona found me on bended knees, flowers in hand proposing to her! She said YES – and after teary moments got herself ready to go (I still pretended we were going to my work Christmas dinner, and for some reason she still believed me)
So on our way to my car, just as we stepped of her drive, my pre-booked chauffeur driven car, which I had briefed.. rolls up to the curb “Good evening Madame, please take a seat”
(Nu Bride: Oh come on! Look what all my Nu Bride grooms need to live up to now Deji! Smooth! lol!)
Que more tears from Ona
We then made our way to the Dorchester hotel on Park Lane in London, where I had booked a private chandelier covered room in the Alain Ducasse Restaurant! She had no idea as to what was happening, and I ensured I kept each stage of the night a surprise! It was a lovely evening!
We wanted our wedding to have glitz and glamour and to remain tasteful and our Nigerian crowds carried our culture right the way through our wedding day!
We chose Helen Abraham and The Wedding Filmmakers to capture our day and would thoroughly recommend them. Other stand out suppliers include our wedding planner; JB Wedding Planners who provided on the day coordination, Jemmy’s Catering a Nigerian catering company who provided us with fantastic food.
Our brilliant MC Don’tJealousMe and DJ: DJ Tallest and our great florist: Beverley Wilson and decoration: Adivah Events
My Wedding Dress was made by Nigerian fashion designer – AprilByKunbi. My brief to her was to create a princess dress, and that is what she did! (Nu Bride: That train is to die for!)
The dress was made in Lagos, Nigeria. With me based in the UK, this meant that there were limited times for me to get fitted. However Kunbi came to the UK earlier in the year, and I had my measurements taken then. I then met up with Kunbi, whilst I was in Nigeria during July. The dress arrived a few days before the wedding, we made some final tweaks and it was good to go.
I originally checked out various bespoke designers to create my suit, but after deciding to invest budget elsewhere within the wedding, I decided to source my two outfits myself through various retailers.
It was not hard to do, but was important everything matched and sat together well.
Tuxedo trousers were from Next, my waistcoat and bow tie from Charles Tywhitt, shirt – Marks & Spencer, Jacket from Moss Bros, finished off with shoes from Russell & Bromley, and an evening jacket from House of Fraser
Our wedding ceremony took place in All Saints Woodford Wells Church. As committed Christians, it was important to us we got married in a church and had a Christian ceremony.
With 400 guests, our local church is far too small, so we liaised with the church in Woodford who were very welcoming for us.
The ceremony was wonderful, with our favourite hymns and songs, sung by singers who are actually good friends, and the sermon was provided by a minister who has been very close with us as we drew towards the wedding.
Meridian Grand has a very large ballroom, so it was important the room felt full.
Our theme was glamorous but elegant, so we had a mixture of small, medium and tall flower fixtures, as well as candelabra centrepieces.
A particularly funny moment of our wedding day was when Deji sung to me in his bare feet! We played the couples shoe game where, we take a shoe of our own in one hand and our partners shoe in the other. My chief bridesmaid and Deji’s best man prepared some questions for the MC to ask us. So Deji and I raised the shoe of the person we think aligns best with the questions.
The question was ‘who is the better singer’ – We seemingly both put up Deji’s shoe and our MC decided it was a good opportunity for Deji to show if this was true. Deji bounced straight up and started singing. But it was hilarious to look back at the videos to see his feet all over the dance floor!
First dance was to a song by Sam Hennshaw – Only wanna be with you.
The lyrics of the song were so fitting to our relationship, as soon as we heard it – it was the perfect song for our first dance together! Deji even surprised me mid-dance with tilting me right back to kiss me during the song!
Other fun moments was our very large rendition of “Cameo – Candy” (Nu Bride: YES!) in which we got everyone on to the dance floor immediately after the first dance to take part in! Visually it looked great!
More seriously, the Akande family (Deji family) provided me with a family history plaque which dates back through the generations of the Akande family, but significantly had both of our names engraved on the bottom. It was very meaningful moment.
Our favourite part of wedding day? We’ve thought hard about this answer, but we loved it all. We would have to give note to the reception as we never would have dreamed we’d have a reception as big and fun as we did!
Challenges and Triumphs
One key challenge was – what we want vs what the budget can afford (Deji: This was defo a challenge for my wife!) (Nu Bride: LOL!) Therefore, finding ways to save on costs was not always easy on every occasion.
Another challenge was managing a guest-list for a large Nigerian wedding, in a culture where guest attendance is always very fluid (i.e. people like to just turn up!)
Major triumphs were securing our venue & church. We had looked long and hard at various options, and we were so happy with our choices!
Another big triumph, the day was relatively smooth! We had a lot of people to manage e.g. 12 groomsmen & 9 bridesmaids, plenty of excited Nigerian family members, 400 crowd to feed with food and drink and everything went quite smooth give or take!
Top Tip To Other Couples
Quite simply, enjoy every single moment of your wedding day – No matter what – It is YOUR day above all else.
Photographer: Helen Abraham Photography
Cinematographer: The Wedding Filmmakers
Ceremony Venue: All Saints Woodford Wells Church
Reception Venue: Meridian Grand
Wedding Planners (on the day): JB Wedding Planners
Bride’s Fashion: Dress / outfit: AprilByKunbi
Accessories / Jewellery: AprilByKunbi
Makeup: Jennifer Olae https://www.jenniferolae.com/
Hair: Flotem Makeovers https://www.instagram.com/flotemmakeovers/
Groom’s Fashion: Suit as mentioned above | Shoes – Russell & Bromley
The Girls Bridesmaid Outfits: 2n2 Couture https://www.instagram.com/2n2couture
Bridesmaid Shoes: ASOS
Flower Girls outfit: Debenhams
The Guys Groomsmen Suits: Next
Pageboy outfit: Debenhams
Personal Touches: Cake: Loretta
Flowers and Décor: Beverley Wilson https://www.instagram.com/beverley_wilson_london/
Decorator: AdivahEvents https://www.instagram.com/adivahs_event_hire/
Food: Jemmy’s Catering http://www.jemmys.co.uk/
Favours: Various family members!!
DJ: DJ Tallest https://www.instagram.com/dj_tallest/?hl=en