Written and Photographed By: Kelly Ann Earls

 

Passing my car key to the valet, I walked into the lovely Hyatt hotel in Houston to help the Ellanesque team with preparations for Taiwo and Tomiwa’s wedding. This would be my first opportunity to experience a Nigerian wedding. Amazing doesn’t begin to describe it.

First things first, the preparations. I went up the escalators to where the reception would be held in a large ballroom area of the hotel. Lauren, LeighAnne as well as their husbands Erik and Lowell were already there. There were many details to put this wedding together and we needed the whole team. Tables were covered with ivory white linens and cylinder vases filled with water where orchids went for a dip, and candles floated on top to add ambiance once the reception began. There were two tables set on a stage in front of the dance floor. One held a beautiful four tiered ivory cake and the champagne flutes for the toasts later and the other would be the seat of honor for the bride and groom.

Since the reception area preparations were going well, LeighAnne and I went upstairs to check on the bride. Taiwo, was an absolute vision in her wedding dress, she reminded me of the elegant Hollywood glamor actresses from the 30’s and 40’s. The bridesmaids were just as lovely in their violet dresses. They smiled and laughed as they helped one another get ready. We then went to check on the groom and groomsmen. They were right on schedule and looking sharp! After the men had departed for the church LeighAnne and I went to escort the bride’s contingent to the lobby, where they were scheduled for photos and to wait for the limo. When we reached the lobby, guests smiled as Taiwo passed by and they admired the bride who was smiling ear to ear when she saw some family members, who took a moment to take pictures and give her well wishes before she was shepherded to the church.

LeighAnne and Lauren would oversee the ceremony, while Erik, Lowell, and I finished the reception room. With the help of the Hyatt staff we set the tables with cutlery and china, then the napkins were folded a certain way to hold the menus. We gathered and set out the favors, a booklet that told Taiwo and Tomiwa’s story, along with a CD of a few of the couple’s favorite songs, that the bride and groom’s family had made for the guests. Two hours later, everything was going smoothly when the guests arrived to start enjoying complimentary wine and appetizers as they waited to enter the ballroom for the festivities. As the doors opened, guests were greeted by dimly lit, enticing chandeliers and the gorgeous centerpieces on the ivory tables. Many smiled as they examined the favors, appreciating this personal touch by the bride and groom.  Near the stage a screen displayed a slideshow of the couple looking as glam as ever in engagement photos. This screen would later be used as a live feed of the reception so everyone could see what was going on. Yes, the bride and groom had not only their own photographer, but also a video crew. Outside a man set up a photo booth for the guests, which was a big hit with its fun props and suggestions for poses.

Soon the guests were seated and the MC started getting everyone excited to congratulate the newlyweds. The DJ put on some fun Nigerian music and as the MC introduced them the family of the bride entered in traditional garb dancing with joy. They shimmied and shook through the guests to their seats.  The groom’s family not to be outdone followed, their smiles just as big as they paraded through as well. Then it was the bridal party’s turn and their dancing was a bit more modern, but just as much fun.

Then the couple every one had gathered together for was introduced and they danced their heart out in becoming husband and wife and sharing these wonderful moments with friends and family. They all enjoyed a dinner of spicy chicken, spicy rice, and moi moi. The toasts were gracious, the MC was hilarious, and the first dances were sweet. The bride and groom sparkled, just having the best time.

As a surprise for the guests, the bridal party was escorted out to separate rooms to change into their own traditional Nigerian garb to dance the rest of the night away. It was incredible to see the transformation as the girls laughed and helped one another get into the outfits. Professionals were on hand to help with the headdress and skirts. No one could outshine the bride though, she looked fantastic and we all gathered to take a million pictures of the girl.  Then when Tomiwa came in with his own outfit we all went crazy again. So perfect!

They were introduced into the reception hall to great applause and the rest of the night was just dancing, dancing, dancing! Such a love for life and they were a blur of vibrant colors along the dance floor. Such an honor to witness and be a part of such a fun group. We at Ellanesque wish Taiwo and Tomiwa the best.

 Here are some fun moments from the wedding!