Text by Demara White / As seen in the Fall/Winter 2016 Issue. Purchase a copy here.
Love is uncanny. Your soulmate could have the same career as you, and live and work right where you do; yet, your paths never cross - until, of course, destiny beckons. Just ask Ajiri and Chika!
While in Enugu, Nigeria for an educational charity event, Ajiri met Chika. The incidental meeting happened as Ajiri was on her way to grab a quick refreshment before exiting the event. Chika, the handsome stranger, happened to be at the event because his scheduled vacation with friends was cancelled at the last minute. Throughout their first conversation, Ajiri quickly noticed that they shared striking commonalities. They immediately decided to trade numbers and keep in touch.
“The following week, we met up and went to dinner, where and he told me he was going to marry me. I just looked at him and thought, ‘What a nutter,’ and laughed it off,” shares Ajiri. After a six month friendship, the two transitioned into dating and became inseparable, sharing every moment together.
And just like their chance meeting, Chika’s proposal also came unexpectedly - on a Tuesday, of all days! “I always laugh at this, because I feel like jeez, a Tuesday? Really?” jokes Ajiri. That day, she had made plans to meet a friend for dinner, but had to change plans at the last minute when the friend cancelled their date. All dressed up with nowhere to go, Ajiri’s evening was salvaged, when Chika stepped in and suggested that he take her out to a local spot instead.
After a scenic forty-minute drive, the pair arrived at a picturesque estate house mansion, one that Chika claimed he “stumbled upon” a few days prior and wanted to check out. An unsuspecting Ajiri noticed a few details that left her giving the side-eye, including the front-of-house greeting them by name and a densely empty restaurant; however, she decided to brush it off and go with the flow. The two sat outdoors and enjoyed a lovely dinner, cocktails and conversation before they decided to take a walk by the lake.
As the pair got towards the end of the lake, she noticed candles and rose petals sprinkled over the grass, while her ears were greeted with the melodious strums from a soft string (which she later discovered were courtesy of a string quartet). And before she knew it, Chika was positioned on one knee, uttering those four magical words. Stuck in a kaleidoscope of emotions ranging from shock to happiness and later bursting into tears of joy, Ajiri said, “Yes”. His perfect proposal was also equipped with the ring of her dreams - a custom-made, graduated double-prong oval cut diamond ring in platinum. Though the proposal went off without a hitch and played out like that of a fairytale, Chika admitted that he never arranged for her friend to cancel the dinner; he had already made dinner reservations in advance in hopes of courting an unsuspecting Ajiri there for dinner.
The two medical doctors, exchanged “I do’s” at the historic Chelmsford Cathedral with a breathtaking reception that followed at the Boreham House in Essex. Ajiri wore a grandeur Vera Wang “Katherine” ball gown coupled with a crystal sash, also by the designer. The pair also incorporated their Nigerian Igbo and Isoko cultures into their big day through: the use of traditional music, cultural "Aso Ebi" attire for their respective families, and the singing of the “Isoko Song” by the bride's parents (a traditional song used to serenade the bride as she leaves to make a new home with her husband).
So, while love is uncanny, once it leads you to your soulmate, your life will be changed - forever! Just ask Ajiri and Chika.
Wedding date: 10/24/2015
Occupations: Both are doctors
Favorite item on the menu: "I hardly ate anything - but the canapés were amazing I heard - I guess smoked salmon with dill served with plantain."
First dance song: Al Green - Let's Stay Together
Wedding advice: "Relax - it will all be fine on the day! Try to Enjoy the day as much as possible because you won't get it back. Learn to compromise- try to meet in the middle - be it guest numbers, budget, style, bridal party, venue - listen to each other and work as a team. Try to have DateNight at least once a month in the last few months leading up to the wedding - ensure that no one talks about wedding or planning - just enjoy each others company."
Wedding location: Chelmsford Cathedral and Boredom House, Essex, UK
Bride's Dress: Vera Wang / Bridal Salon: Browns Bride / Evening Gown: Lauren B Couture
Bride’s Headpiece: Vera Wang Veil
Bride's Shoes: Kurt Geiger
Brides Jewellery and Hair Accessory: Cadenzza
Bridesmaids Dresses: Dressy Star via Amazon
Cakes/desserts: Tasty Cakes by Val and Dani Jewel Cakes
Catering: Mrs J. Foods
Ceremony Venue: Chelmsford Cathedral, Essex
Event Decor/design: Royal Event Decoration
Event Decor (Tableware): Just Hire
Entertainment: Dj Bayo / Jazz Saxophonist: Kevin Mcmahon
Event Planner: Perfect Events
Florals: Blossom Hill Florist (Bridal Party)
Groom's Attire: Kabiru Abu
Groomsmen Attire: Jack Bunneys
Hair: Papachichi Style
Lighting/dance Floor/draping: Spotlight Sound
Linens: Royal Event Decoration
Makeup: Joy Adenuga of Brides by Joy
Master of Ceremony: Okechukwu Chima
Photography: Adebayo Deru
Reception Venue: Boreham House
Stationery: Harquil Printing
Videography: Henley & White Film