This Nigerian celebration had the visual semblance of a South Asian wedding with bright and shimmering colours but it was unmistakably a West African wedding characterized by lots of story-telling and many opportunites to dance all through out the evening. Olatokunboh, affectionately called "Toks", and his wife Abiola, give Team Aperture Lane their first taste of a traditional Nigerian wedding. The couple opted to use the traditional names in light of the celebration.
I was in disbelief when I got an inquiry for a wedding on a Thursday. All I could think was, "what is this world coming to - don't people work anymore?" What I soon found out in the conversation was that this was not your typical white-dress-ceremony-photos-reception kind of affair. This was traditional and very cultural celebration. When I heard that, it reminded me about Greg and Marian's celebration we did last year. However, Marian's family was Ghanaian, so I didn't want to assume any similarity.... or dare mention to my Nigerian bride, "so is it like the Ghanaian one?"
Tristan and I started our afternoon in Mississauga at the house of the bride's parents. We enjoyed an upbeat time with family stepping in and out of the room chatting, telling jokes, and breaking into dance and song from time to time. The real commotion occurred when Abiola started to have her gele [pronounced "gay-li"], the headdress, put on. The gele is not a crinkled hat that she sets on her head - it's a actually fabric that is artfully folded and wrapped on her head. It was quite a site to see it put on. Cross that off my bucket list!
We find ourselves at Roma's Hospitality Centre getting ready for the ceremony part of the day. The family enter separately and sit on opposite sides of the hosting area. Each family has a representative, and these two representative jointly guide everyone through the rituals. Some of these rituals include, the signing of hymns, the presentation of a formal request to marry the bride (from the grooms family), the formal response from the bride's family, and exchange of gifts. This all happens in a mix of Yoruba (an West African language spoken in Nigeria) and English. Oh, and get this: all of this happens before either Toks and Abiola enter the room!
Toks, along with his entourage of groomsmen and other family, enters to present himself to the families and gets a blessing.
An hour into the proceedings, the star, Abiola, enters the hall with her ladies, she joins Toks and they receive their blessings and well-wishes.
Toks and Abiola re-enter is a fresh set of threads to go through another set of traditions that we are more familiar with. For example, there is a cake cutting (great - we know how to shoot that!) There are also a first dance and dances with the parents. However, the difference with these dances is that after 30 seconds, family and friends join the couples dances and shower them with (US) dollar bills. Yes - every dance! It was cool to watch and shoot creatively. This was one of those events where we didn't have to worry about being inconspicuous during the dances because the dance floor was constantly packed during the night.
Our time with our new Nigerian friends ends with our coverage and thankfully so; I'm pretty sure everyone danced till the A.M only to have part two of the wedding celebrations two days later. The Saturday event was their white-dress-ceremony-photos-reception affair. We, unfortunately, were not on deck for that event but I jealously look forward to seeing the video from that day whenever it's published.
That's it for now. Thanks for reading and enjoy your holiday season!
Ryan Walters, the founder and operator of Aperture Lane. Look forward to sharing great stories with you!