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Dera U. Okenwa: My Nigerian Wedding, My Way

Dera Okenwa

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1. First, I dedicate this to my mom Ngozi Stella Nnamani Ugwuegbu, Star Star, who would have been exceptionally proud to witness this day, who would have in fact planned for it for a year or two and told the world just how proud she was of her only daughter and last child. I got married, mom.. your loss is still fresh on a lot of hearts particularly my brothers but for me, my greatest loss was that I never really knew you… where there should have been memories there’s just blank spaces of what could have been. Nevertheless I eventually met you, I discovered you and I eventually found you in who I became because everyone that knew you would testify that in every way… I am my mother’s child. Thank you for giving us the absolute best while you could.. and for fighting so strongly as long as you did.. you will never be forgotten, we keep the torch blazing as the Nnamani Ugwuegbu Clan.

2. Long Live The Chief
“I am black because the white man labeled me black to differentiate me from his white, I am Nigerian because the white man geographically grouped ethnicities together and named us Nigeria, but I was Igbo before the white man came”Chimamanda Adichie (paraphrased).

I’ve always wanted a story type scenario where I was a traditional leader. I’m in love with my tribe even though I can’t speak the language, when I think of Igbo, I think of Power, Strength and Royalty so you can understand why I had to do this shoot. I obviously couldn’t get my friends to be my subjects so I got traditional dancers to fill in the gap. There is much pride in being Igbo, we kneel for no one! This one on the other hand was as pleasant as they come.. will you just look at that cute heavenly smile? This one is made of something different.. he was as graceful as they come. Original Igbo Engel.. owero this type na market! Chai!.. Our Trad was over.. it was time for Our White.

6. Our White was two days later… I was emotionally exhausted. There was still so much to be done.. By the night before the wedding, I hadn’t done my hair or my nails. And I had generally forgotten a lot of stuff; my hair piece, my bracelet, my socks (what did I need socks for?), my ear rings and the weave I wanted to fix. I contemplated going from the hotel with my hair packed to the back after all the veil would cover it lmao but my bridesmaids weren’t having it. I even contemplated going without earrings but my cousin almost cried. How can a bride go without earrings?! I was emotionally exhausted so I wasn’t really thinking it through, I almost cried as well. Luckily the church service wasn’t starting till 1 pm so by 6 am I was up. I did my hair, did my nails, got all the stuff I forgot here or there… then the makeup artist didn’t show till 12pm with one hour to go.

By 12.30pm we were still on my eyebrows. At this point, everyone was rallying around me trying to get me into the wedding dress, get my shoes on, while I was putting on my make up.. My brother was complaining about something… probably my shoes.

7. I needed socks for my shoes. Everyone had already complained about my shoes before the wedding but I didn’t.. couldn’t see what was wrong. I was very surprised when they told me I couldn’t wear my shoes because they were sneakers, they thought it was absurd and the general disapproval started to give me great concern. I thought my shoes were awesome. I selected them particularly for this purpose, they had glitters for god-sake! I’m a sneakers kinda girl, I didn’t want to wear heels – I couldn’t.

Not today, not this day, certainly not the whole day. Why couldn’t they see this was the only sensible option for me? I had to calm the noise and ask myself: “Dera what do you want? Dera what is reasonable for you?” And my answer was the sneakers, so I wore them. Comfortable feet are paramount for me and anything causing my feet discomfort would show on my face. I obviously wanted happy pictures so the reasonable answer was a comfortable shoe that would keep me happy. I wasn’t striving to be different; I was just being the different that was me.

I love this picture because if we’re being honest I believe every bride goes through this state of panic where they contemplate things not going as planned. Asides the picture perfect poses, this showed a vulnerability I think occurs at every wedding. I was 1 hour 30 minutes late to the church. Both families had been there since 1pm. It was now 2.30pm. I rushed downstairs in my ever able sneakers but my bridesmaids were far behind because they were wearing heels (and some of them hadn’t finished their makeup). At this very moment in this picture, I contemplated speeding off without the bridesmaids. See that red streak in my eye? I was truly frustrated, I almost cried. My aunt had scolded me for being late to my brother’s wedding three months before (I was also about 1 hour 30 minutes behind) and had warned me not to be late for my own wedding… but I thought it was a joke, of course it was a joke…but here I was at 2.30pm, an hour thirty minutes late again, to my own wedding.

“Every bride is late, Dera.. every bride is supposed to be late” Jemi and Modele were saying but it wasn’t helping, I wasn’t listening.. I just wanted to enter the ground while the driver drove past every red light possible.Church.. It happened.. they waited for me <3
The priests were literally waiting for us outside when we got to the church.
The priest said to me, “Quick, quick! Where is your veil??”
Turned to my bridesmaid and told her she had to cover the side of her chest that was showing, all of them had to cover their chests please!

We got married! We kissed!! The priests even had smiles on all their faces!! All my lateness completely forgotten, out with the trash like it never happened! One particular priest kept frowning but in the end he laughed along with everyone cause the joy really was contagious.

My Brothers and Us

My Bridesmaids

I don’t think it would have been possible to get through this day without these girls. They were just what I needed for a final push… love ’em to the moon and back.

I had only one request for the reception.. I wanted to be able to speak to the person next to me without shouting because the music was too loud and I wanted at intervals to hear Michael Buble. I wanted for people to feel they were at a Christmas Dinner Party, I wanted people to at that moment, remember whoever they were in love with. That’s four requests.. and they all came true.

In the end, I got married to this man. My friends asked me at my bridal shower: what is marriage to you Dera?

To me marriage is first a gift: A gift with the presupposition that I have already to a healthy extent explored the gift that I am to this world, have already attained a level of self discovery which makes me wake up everyday with purposeful drive and ambition. At this place of sufficient self discovery to then have another well discovered human being added to me is quite the bonus – a gift from God saying, “You’re already doing well Dera, now have this and do so much better.. It’s my gift to you”.

Secondly it is a team: One shall chase a thousand, two ten thousand – a team to get to work for the purpose God ordained. Pursuing personal goals is great and healthy but the ultimate question for me is if there really is a God in this world what would He have me do? I believe this gift is promptly for that purpose; to help us better achieve with some ‘help’ mates, the assignments we’ve been placed on earth for by God. To do and be much better for God, for each other and for our daily aspirations.

Thirdly, it’s a safe place; If you’re above 23 you’ve probably been hurt before, broke before, lied about before, betrayed before or rejected before. Human relationships are the singular most difficult aspects of living that can either break us or make us. I believe marriage should be that safety from the rest of the world, a security that enables you to face whatever the world throws at us. A place where you find complete acceptance for the ‘different that is you’.

We might say all this is really ideal and hardly realistic and the truth is it really is… ideal. But I say we ought to be looking for ideal and not realistic cause nowadays realistic is pain, heartbreak and deception from the very start and I personally knew if I wasn’t going to do it well, I didn’t want to do it at all. I have been too happy as a single person to let anyone dull my shine with a dose of world reality.

If your relationship is thriving on heightened emotions and passion, seek for more depth and purpose before making lasting commitments to temporary feelings. I said to God, God I don’t want to get married because I’ve been in a relationship for so long or because it’s age appropriate. I need this to be authentic… and He did it for me.

I believe He’s waiting to do it for you too.

Thanks for reading.

XOXO

Photo Credit: Crimage Weddings for #DeeKen2016

Dera is a writer who just recently got married... a consultant in Marketing and Media, she aspires to be a varied writer and public speaker in the future.

69 Comments

  1. mama dazel

    January 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    God bless your marriage! Looked lik a beautiful day (s) for you both. I like your narrative style

    • gbagbe e

      January 10, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Not a single thing was different. I’m confused. Abi its only because she wore sneakers?

      She’s beautiful

  2. Chu

    January 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Love, love, love this. She had a dream of a wedding, not just the typical owambe and it came to pass. Of cos her being a writer helped her articulate her thoughts well.
    Wish you a home of bliss with God as your third man.

  3. Anon

    January 10, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Anyone know where I can get this exact same sneakers?

  4. Ade

    January 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    This is one of the very few wedding write ups am reading from start to finish, it relates & shares real wedding day experience.

    • Hotspice_yimu

      January 10, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      i totally agree. I felt like i attended the wedding. God bless your home.

    • Dera

      January 10, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      thank you guys so much! And thanks Bella.. you’re amazeballs :*

  5. Asa

    January 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Igbo amaka. Unu amaka congratulations

  6. Rubby

    January 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Awesome Awesome!

  7. Rola

    January 10, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Beautifully written piece. Well done Dera. Many points in the article had me saying “Amen Sister!”. I felt like you were speaking to me personally. Yes marriage is a gift, and this gift truly has meaning when it is added to your life, while walking in your God given purpose. Thank you for inspiring me with your journey.God bless you and your marriage.

  8. Unicorn

    January 10, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Well written article. God bless your home and i pray He provides a husband for me too.

  9. Engoz

    January 10, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    There are some brides that you see and the whole demeanor is infantile and screams immaturity. You are not that bride. You have a queenly demeanor.

    • nawa o

      January 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      hmhm…haba..how u take know brides wey look infantile…na wa for all the horoscope readers .
      Everyone cannot be the same.pele.

    • Engoz

      January 10, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Hehehe nawa o, I actually chuckled reading your post. No hard feelings here! I agree everyone cannot be the same, that is why some women are princesses, while some are queens. Tehehehe. I would have given you two popular names featured here to give you more perspective to whom I will classify as princesses, but i don’t wanna look for trouble, tehehe. They both wore tiaras though…tehehe!

    • Mawi

      January 10, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      You couldn’t have said it better. It’s like you were reading my mind! She oozes maturity and a self awareness that is rare to find in young women jumping around to get married. I wish her all the joy and peace in the world.

    • Engoz

      January 10, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      Absolutely agree! I can sense the self-assuredness from my screen.

  10. Natalia

    January 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I love you Dera! You get it!

  11. Uloma

    January 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Dera big congratulations. Wishing you conjugal bliss. Bless ya.

  12. Faith Innocent-Unwaba

    January 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Congratulation dearie, lv the narration.

  13. Nwachief

    January 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Love! Love! Love!

  14. MercyI

    January 10, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    CONGRATS DEARIES …WISHING YOU A HAPPY MARRIED LIFE AHEAD, LOVELY WRITE UP

  15. Mma Bb

    January 10, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Your mama is definitely proud of you up where she is. God bless your marriage!

  16. Mother's Daughter

    January 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    I wish I could marry an Igbo man heard they don’t marry outside their tribe. Congratulations to the couple

    • o

      January 10, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      You can. Plenty Igbo men marrying outside their tribe now

    • Gwen

      January 11, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      They do hun! Depends on the man and his family.. They prefer to stay within their community but they’re definitely marrying outside now.

  17. funmilola

    January 10, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    hmmmm, I totally enjoyed reading this…. congratulations dera.
    p.s- I noticed the shade “there is much pride in being Igbo,we kneel for no one”…..isssokay

    • Dera

      January 10, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      lmaooo funmilola.. no shade i promise. 🙂

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      January 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Re shade, I don’t think she intentionally wrote that to throw any, in the way you’re thinking she did. And we do kneel down in Igbo land from time to time – case in point: this bride for instance would have knelt (on both knees) to offer the customary cup of “mai” (drink) to her husband on her wedding day.

    • DoroAnon

      January 10, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      So it’s in the Igbo culture not to kneel for ur elders!No wonder when my Igbo friends visit my home and meeet my parents at hope they are as stiff as a palmtree and I tell them bend*rolls eye* because I would bend for Thier parents. Igbo people no respect that’s why they insult Thier elders anyhow.

    • ResponsetoDoroAnon

      January 10, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Let’s try and understand each other. By hook or crook, we are one Nigeria.
      PS: Contrary to Yoruba belief, kneeling does not equal respect. For example, A Yoruba wife kneels to greet her evil mother in law because she has been programmed to do so. It does not mean she respects her. Watch Africa magic for reference. FYI, as a Yoruba(Egba to the core) woman, I personally think Igbos are just as respectful as Hausas, Kalabari, Efik, Ibibio, Ijebu, Ijesha and Jukun people. Gerrit? Don’t use your cultural bias to judge if another is respectful.

    • Toks

      January 10, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      Contrary to what you said, I don’t think Igbo people are disrespectful. I’m Yoruba and have a lot of Igbo friends. And being disrespectful is not particular to a tribe, it’s all down to the individual.

    • The Real Oma

      January 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      @DoroIGNORANT, so kneeling = RESPECT??
      Ode.

    • Iris

      January 11, 2017 at 4:00 am

      *sigh* For every group with common sense there’s always your kind. You are very rude and you’re here talking about disrespect. Carry your bile somewhere else. Do your friends know you’re talking about them like this?

    • Lo

      January 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Ugh in spite of all your kneeling you’re soooo rude and disrespectful DoroAnon, I feel sorry for your poor friends. Grow up a bit and learn that respect is more than gestures, it’s in your heart and your attitude towards others.

  18. Sylva Umole

    January 10, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Dear,,, may you remain happy today and tomorrow in this union,,, God bless us,,,

  19. B.E

    January 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Beautifully written!

    Congratulations. God bless your home

  20. JennyEkwueme

    January 10, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Congratulations my beautiful new sister! We love you so much darling!

  21. The Real Oma

    January 10, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Awww, this is so beautiful. Dera you are such a beautiful bride.
    God bless your union.
    P.S. Your brothers are handsome 🙂
    And that quote from Chimamanda, i love it!

    • DoroAnon

      January 10, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      BASTARD!!! Child from a useless lineage!*thats too far* good for nothing parent I aired my views without insulting and you called me ode! You are as unfortunate as the pple in your family line. You think you are Mental u never see nothing bring it on let me rubbish ur miserable life. Tomorrow I would start my fasting and ask God for forgiveness. I would reply ur blab tomoro,

    • funmilola

      January 11, 2017 at 12:23 am

      it’s a new year, please calm down with the insults. the same mouth you use to insult people is the same mouth you’ll use to pray,na wa o!
      congratulations to dera again jare!

    • oh please

      January 11, 2017 at 2:32 am

      shall we continue in sin because grace abounds?

  22. Anulika

    January 10, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    You are just lovely!

  23. Igwe, john.

    January 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Wow, this is awesome! Congratulations Dear! May God bless your new home. Good writeup.

  24. onepowerwoman

    January 10, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    awwww… Lovely! 🙂
    Dera was my senior in secondary school, and she’s always been this “really cool and different” person. LoL! ..so reading this got me smiling-smiling like a sheep. Haha!
    Congratulations, Dera!! Wisdom to build, and understanding to establish your home, may the Lord grant you; Amen!
    And this article, beautiful-TRUTH! 🙂 Thank you for sharing.
    Celebrating your love, God bless, Hearts!! <3

    • Dera

      January 11, 2017 at 2:44 am

      Lol Thanks bebe..kisses 😉

  25. flirt

    January 10, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Your brodas are fine,u and ur hubby are kute too and happy married life

  26. Pamela Akpavie

    January 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    My darling Dera,congratulations. I’m so so happy you and Kene made it to this day. You are an amazing girl with a beautiful soul. God bless your marriage and cause you both to grow together in love, with tolerance and respect for each other. It isn’t a walk in the park but with the right partner it’ll feel like a walk with your best friend. It is well with you both…oya get busy..?

  27. Funmi

    January 10, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    I love the sneakers idea. Wish I thought of it. Congratulations.

  28. Motunrayo

    January 10, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Congratulations Dera. From the onset of the wedding write up I just felt it was a professional writer that wrote it little did I know the bride is a writer, may God take you beyond your thoughts in Jesus name

    • Dera

      January 11, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Thank you so much.. Amen

  29. MRS A

    January 10, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Congrats Dera, this is so beautiful. please o, where can i get those shoes? i loooove them

  30. Queenee

    January 10, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Beautiful writeup I must say…kept me smiling all through…Marriage will forever give you JOY..exceptionally different positively…Amen…LUCK!!!

  31. tina

    January 10, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    This just reminds me of my wedding. I was late as well to the extent my chief bridesmaid (sister) didn’t follow me to church. She came later on…..i laugh when i think about it, may God bless your union dearie. Great read.

  32. karen

    January 10, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Readingt through this write I feel so much relief.Congratulations on your wedding…Pls where. Did u get the sneaker s and what’s the cost,so need it…

  33. lisa

    January 11, 2017 at 1:27 am

    aww dera!!! this was lovely!! sneakers are soo you anyway!! and you looked soo beautiful in all the pictures xxx

  34. X-Factor

    January 11, 2017 at 1:55 am

    “seek for more depth and purpose before making lasting commitments to temporary feelings”…Wow! this is DEEP
    Congratulations!!!.

  35. Wole Temidire Aguda

    January 11, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Congratulations on your beautiful wedding and marriage. I wish your home happiness and unyielding understanding per challenge. Enjoy the beautiful lives that you now must live together. Trust me, the real work is beyond this and I trust that it wouldn’t be beyond you and your husband. May grace speak for you. Amen.

  36. Ezennia Onyaa

    January 11, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Congratulations Dee Dee , God bless ur home

  37. Oma

    January 11, 2017 at 8:57 am

    This is beautiful. Its evident from your writing that you’re confident in who you are and there’s really no better feeling than when you love yourself. Only then can you truly love and be loved by someone else.
    I pray that 40 years from now, the bond you have formed with your husband will be even stronger and the passion will still be as fresh as it was in the beginning (possibly better)!

  38. Chux Nnodim

    January 11, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Wow! Congrats Dera and Kene! U guys rock! Wish u marital bliss…

  39. Mzphunby

    January 11, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Congratulations Dera…. Sneakers!!! I love it… I have been thinking and dreading wearing heels on my wedding day.

  40. Moyo

    January 11, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    ??????OMG!!!!!!!! These words should be turned into a sermon, my sentiments that I’ve not quite been able to put into words. I wanna be like u when I grow up! ? But seriously, this is the best wedding post yet on BN. Congrats beautiful Dera!!

  41. Debby

    January 11, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Congratulations Dera! Your wedding and story truly reflects who you are! I have always admired your grace and poise and back in Hull, secretly wished my brother didn’t get married so early so we could steal you. lol. No doubt your husband is every inch as beautiful as you are…from within and without and will do good by you. I wish you both a marriage filled with beauty and peace beyond words. Your mum would be mighty proud of you.

  42. Lorenzo

    January 12, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Dera so you were the one that took my brother… Woooww! Nice!! Cool wedding story, sneakers? OMG! Why did you not play the piano for him? You’re good at that too, remember that Dominion City Campmeeting you played? Have a great marriage dear

  43. Jenny

    January 12, 2017 at 9:55 am

    This is not just beautiful but also very inspiring. I wish you al the best dear in your marriage. Thanks for this beautiful and inspiring write up. Just made my day

  44. Clifford

    January 12, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Dera, congratulations. your narrative took me back to my young old days with great nostalgia. For once I have seen Gods handiwork on overtime in you. you are an epitome of Gods complete work. born with ‘platinum spoon’, educated, beautiful tall, outspoken proud and very considerate and appreciative of nature. For a long time now I have not seen a lady so outstanding. please take it as your pet project to groom those pageants that could not fly in Anambra state. wishing you the be that God has not evidenced in your marriage life.

  45. Chiomah

    January 12, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Loved reading this! Your mummy will be beaming down from heaven at her baby girl. Congrats to you and your husband.
    http://www.chiomah.net

  46. RuthEgbe

    January 15, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Dera, yours is a marriage made in heaven and assembled on earth. What an amazing assembly it turned out to be! God is for sure a matchmaker. I’ve seen Him do it again and again! I’m grateful He did it for you and Kene. God bless you both. I pray that your marriage will remain a gift, a safe place and an example to all as you team up to fulfill God’s purpose. I love you loads!

  47. TheRealMister

    January 28, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    You and Kene have always been terrific( individually, and now as a couple) so sorry couldnt come so wanted too especially when your dad personally invited me ( havent had the heart to call him yet but will do, eventually!) But when you live in a country where getting from one place to another is simply impossible you just have learn the way to apologise so I say am deeply sorry I couldnt come but my God your pictures definitely show it was an awesome wedding and I pray for an awesome and blessed married life. God bless You Deedee & Kene

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