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Monday, November 18, 2013

If this is love

I've been itching to write about my wedding/marriage for a long time. I joked with Tim that it was better to not blog about wedding planning because then I would lose focus of the blog and only rant about my wedding. It's easier now that it is over to write about the experience. Only because wedding planning was a very difficult and emotional thing to do.

Tim proposed in 2010 after I returned from a vacation in Ghana. I suppose it was the first time I was away from him in so long and it hye hye no (he "felt" it). It was a quiet proposal; he invited another couple friend to join us and I felt very special and loved. We initially planned to wed in 2011 but we soon realized that it just wasn't time yet. We've been dating since undergraduate and we always knew we wanted to be married but we really had to pray and seek the face of God for direction. I especially had to pray that my parents accepted the relationship. For some odd reason, Ghanaians have a strong love/hate thing for Nigerians. Many of their reasons based on myth and personal experience. Majority of their reason depends on Nollywood horror films.... All the same, my proud Asante parents were especially wary of marrying off their first, beloved daughter to some Naija boy. So it took years, years to soften their hearts. So when the struggle subsided, we began to plan for our union.

From the jump, I knew that my parents were not going to contribute much to the wedding. Their reason was because they were struggling financially and also because they had the strange notion that Tim was a rich Nigerian who can foot the bill. After much pleading, explaining, and hollering, I gave up on trying to convince them to pitch in. Tim and I paid for the whole wedding out of pocket-- no credit. Of course, his parents helped out in various ways but for the most part we did it alone. It. was. hard. It was harrrrrdddddd.
There was a lot of prayer and fasting and hoping that went into planning for our day; God made it possible .

Honestly, I was never the girl who dreamed of the gown and flowers. I was truly excited for the customary rites. Culturally, this event is the true marriage because both families meet to discuss and agree on the union. I marvel at the discussion, negotiations, fashion, advice that goes into such a ceremony and I was more excited to wear kente than I was in wearing a white gown. Planning the traditional ceremony wasn't tasking obviously. However, I was worried that my white wedding wouldn't be all that I wanted it to be. I always felt that if I can't have the wedding I want, why have it all? lol. At the same time, I couldn't bear the idea of paying $28 per centerpiece for 30 tables. But Tim and I said let's just do our best and let God do the rest. We had amazing friends who helped us in various ways to make our wedding come true. When it comes down to it, the people who love you will come through.

So here are some aspects of the wedding that I want to point out in case you are ready to plan a wedding:

1. The dress: I tried on about 10 dresses within the past 3 years and settled on a gown that I never thought I would love. I'm very shapely so I knew I wanted a mermaid gown. I had my eyes on this Simone Carvalli gown for years. I love satin and how it sits on my body but when I tried on the gown, it didn't scream "yes". I tried on other satin gowns and had the same reaction. So I decided to try on ONE lace gown , an Allure Couture C200. It is a heavily beaded mermaid lace gown. I tried it on in February and stopped trying. It was perfect, sexy and classy. But it was also retailed at $2900. Mabel wasn't buying no dress for $3000. I began searching online and there are plenty of sites for brides who can purchase gently used or new gowns for a great bargain ( or You just  luck out if the bride has your size and color. I found a few Allure C200 gowns in my size and price range but I settled on one for $1600 from a bride on I will be honest, it was scary buying online. I never saw the bride in person and although it was my dress size, I really was worried because I didn't see it nor try it on. But my bride was great with communication and gave me a good deal. Thankfully, it was all that she said it was and I was so proud of my purchase. If you plan to purchase a wedding dress from another bride, have your list of questions, ask for a Skype date, negotiate on  a price and just cross your fingers. I lucked out!

2. The Kente: This kente is really special to us. I did a previous post on kente and my experience going to Adanwomase. I have a weird fixation for kente, printed cloth (you call it ankara, I call it ntoma), lace, and the like. So the idea of having our traditional ceremony was exhilarating because it was my chance to wear my very first kente. A lot of young ladies get kente much sooner than I did; in most cases, it is gifted to them. Kente is a very special and prized cloth and I was so proud to wear it for our event. An added bonus is that my very proud Yoruba husband agreed to wear kente in the traditional way. He looked smashing.


2. Decor: All of my inspiration came from my dream Pinterest board. I spent months pinning and researching diy projects. I swear by forum. It helped out so much with questions I had and deals other brides scored. I started off wanting simple floating candle centerpieces but then really wanted fresh flowers. Girl, fresh flowers are EXPENSIVE! So I settled on a more vintage look with baby's breath. One tip about decor I will give: tell no one but your decorator. EVERYone has a damn opinion. "Don't do tall centerpieces", "don't do fresh flowers", "do this", "I did this", "yadda yadda yadda". I kept my decoration ideas to myself and it worked out because it was different and in the end, everyone loved it. My decorator/coordinator was a heaven sent angel. Not only is my bff's older sister, she is my sister and she hooked me up. Utilize the resources you have in your personal life. It works!

3: Guest List: This was probably the hardest thing for us to do. We eventually decided to settle on 300 guests for our wedding. You may ask, do you know 300 people Mabel? Well yes, I do. Tim and I go to the same Ghanaian church so we had about 100 people to invite from there. I had 100 people with both of my parents combined, same with Tim. We fought LONG and HARD over this list. I had a few more friends I wanted to invite but Tim was strict on making sure we stay on target. Only because Africans don't understand invitation only and if we hand-invited 300 people, the guest list can easily creep to 350; 50 folks who weren't invited. And we wanted to be prepared for that. In the end, majority showed up but I ache that I didn't invite other mutual friends that I really wanted to be there. I hope they forgive me!

4: Colors/Style: my favorite color is purple but for a fall wedding, I wanted to do a richer fall color.... mustard yellow (accent color: gray). I just love mustard yellow on brown skin and it worked. My girls wore mustard gowns with emerald statement earrings. My men wore fab dark gray suits. They were fabulous. My reception hall didn't have much yellow at all but I didn't care, I don't believe that colors should be plastered everywhere for a wedding. As for my personal style, I had two things that were key to me: hair and jewelry. I wanted colored stones for jewelry (emerald earrings to match my bridesmaids!) and of course, natural hair. I wore my hair in a french bun in the back and crocheted kinky hair for a waterfall kind of look. I curled and pinned the hair the day of and voila! Perfection.

5: Big Ticket items: hall, photog, video, DJ: Tim can thank my resourceful skills for the awesome deals we got on these items. I found a church that had a reception hall that could accommodate 350 seated guests for $2500. That is an especially rare rate for a wedding hall in Northern VA. I found our photog through Craigslist who was trying to build his portfolio ($1100 for both wedding and engagment shots). I found our videographer from another random girl I stalked on Facebook and had the boldness to ask her who did her work. And our DJ was highly recommended from a friend. He ROCKED our reception. People danced to the last song.... DJ Kweks, we salute you.

6: Planning and Prayer: it goes hand in hand.
My bridal shower:) Yes, it's a tulle skirt! LOVE!

7: Do what you want: do what you want. The ONLY regret I have is that I didn't get a chance to take as many pictures as I desired. We took plenty of pictures that day but I didn't do my dream glam shots:) So Tim and I are going to don the suit and gown again and take pictures in the Spring. I'm trying to convince him to do a trash the dress session but you know these African men be like.... "Why trash it? Oya, sell it!"


This is probably the only post I will do about the wedding:) But now and again, I will sneak the hubby on the blog and I will put a few pictures from our professional photographer when they get in. Otherwise, I am happy, blessed, and ready to get going again on the blog!

Super fun candid of the night, There was so much love in the room:)

Switched in aso oke for the second half of the reception. I lovedddd our outfits and my necklace was the ultimate statement piece

My favorite engagement photo:)