Maybe it’s because I’m finally starting to not feel like a newlywed, or maybe it’s because we still haven’t finished putting together our wedding album, but I’ve been reflecting on our wedding a lot lately! I’ve gotten a bunch of questions about how to make wedding planning less stressful, how to budget for all the expenses, and how we had such a big African wedding without losing ourselves in it (the key was just accepting that it was everyone’s wedding). Even though it was really large and our family was very much involved in a lot of wedding decisions, we still managed to create some unique moments that we will look back on forever (as soon as the album is done)!
This wedding season I’ve partnered with WeddingWire to share my #HowWeWed moment, a campaign celebrating unique and personalized wedding elements. We had quite a few #HowWeWed moments, so here are three ways Jonathan and I made our wedding unique.
After trying on a bunch of wedding dresses, I knew that I wanted something custom made that would combine all the different elements I wanted: off the shoulder (flattering for small chested brides), mermaid cut (to show off the bit of hips I have), low back (subtly sexy), embroidered lace (elegant and timeless fabric), detachable overskirt (to get two dresses in one), and not white (cuz I like to be different haha). I was able to get everything I wanted in a gorgeous dress by Jean Ralph Thurin, and I will forever sing the praises of getting your wedding dress custom made!
In addition to our traditional wedding dress + tux outfit, we wore two traditional African outfits on our wedding day. For the traditional Nigerian marriage, I wore a george fabric that is customary for Igbo culture, and accessorized with coral beads and a coral headpiece that signify strength, wealth, and royalty. During the wedding reception we changed into a matching lace outfit, to signify that we were one! We also were presented with Luo beaded hat and headband to signify that Jonathan had stepped into manhood with his queen (me!) by his side. We received them pretty late in the night, so unfortunately there are no pictures, but they’re in our wedding video! Even though we incorporated other Kenyan and Nigerian cultural traditions throughout our wedding, having our style reflect our culture was one of the most rewarding things!
Even though we actively attend a church together, Jonathan and I wanted our officiants to be people who knew us very well, and not just a pastor we sort of knew. We decided to have my older brother, who is a pastor, and family friend on Jonathan’s side, who is a priest, co-officiate our wedding. My older brother also guided us through personalized premarital counseling, which let us get really deep into topics we glossed over in our group premarital. And our other officiant was really good friends with Jonathan’s father, so having him officiate was one way we incorporated Jonathan’s dad’s memory into our ceremony.
Although we had one formal wedding in New Jersey, we actually celebrated our wedding in both Kenya and Nigeria so all our extended family could participate to some extent! This alleviated some pressure on our main wedding day because we knew we were also going to have celebrations in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Umuahia. Thankfully our families coordinated all the details of the other wedding celebrations, so we only had to plan the main one!
If you’re planning a wedding and looking for ways to make it unique, here are some ideas to get you started. Even if you keep things super traditional, ceremony readings are a time you can venture off the beaten path, choosing scriptures, songs lyrics, or story passages that are important to you and your partner. You can also add some flavor into your other wedding events, like the rehearsal dinner!
If you’re already married, here’s some great news and an incentive to reflect on your big day! Now through 9/14, you can enter the WeddingWire #HowWeWed contest for a chance to win $1000 and a gallery wall! All you have to do is submit a picture from your wedding showing off a unique element from one of these categories: venue, decor, entertainment, food & beverage, style, and stationery & favors. So whether you got married on a farm, wore matching Jordans with your wedding dress, or had a custom ice sculpture, anything unique about your wedding qualifies! It doesn’t matter when your wedding was, so pull out those albums and pick your best pictures. Good luck!