Wedding Inspiration: Nigerian tradition meets Wine Country romance


Omobhene Oiyemhonlan met her future husband, Iwunze Ugo, when they were introduced simply because they were both Nigerian.

Five years later, the couple was visiting a winery, and though they knew they wanted to get married, Oiyemhonlan was surprised when Ugo took her hand and got down on one knee. "I thought he was joking because he's done this a bunch of times before, but then he pulled out a real ring."

In the search for their wedding venue, the couple wanted something romantic—a space they could fill with flowers and candles. They'd stumbled upon The Palm Event Center in Pleasanton, and were immediately drawn to the indoor/outdoor vibe and the place's ability to accommodate both the ceremony and reception. "We opted [to hold the ceremony] indoors because it fit our romantic candlelit theme," the bride explains.

First, they held a traditional Nigerian ceremony before the customary "white wedding" in America. "My parents are Esan and Bini, two ethnic groups from the Edo state in Nigeri,a and the red outfit with the coral beads I wore is the traditional dress a bride wears in our culture. My husband, on the other hand, wore a black isiagu (ee-shee-ah-goo). This lion print shirt is the standard outfit in his Igbo culture." The celebration was heavily influenced by the parents, where their families came together to cook the food, select and hire a decorator, and even traveled home to Nigeria to have their outfits made.

At the white wedding, the couple had all the florals they'd dreamed of with an overflowing bouquet of exotic blooms including orchids and protea. The bridesmaids dressed to match the vineyard feels in wine-hued floor-length gowns, while the groomsmen sported gray tuxedos. In the winery, beneath a glittering chandelier, the aisle was lined with an abundance of rose petals and candles, along with eucalyptus tied to wooden chairs. Two wine barrels held large bouquets on either side of the couple.

At the reception, the newlyweds took a seat at their sweetheart table, encircled with candles and topped with a lush garland of florals that matched Oiyemhonlan's bouquet. Decor, otherwise was kept simple with an ivory palette and matching centerpieces on each table. To pay homage to their Nigerian roots, Oiyemhonlan and Ugo changed into traditional attire and danced with their guests, many of whom traveled across the globe from Nigeria, London, Canada, and Australia.

The families were adorned in colorful "aso ebi, which means 'cloth of the family,'" the bride shared. These clothes are used for weddings, funerals, any other major events. "It signifies a unity within a group and helps other people know who is on what side of the family. Everyone in the turquoise is family or very close friends to my side, and everyone in the dark blue is from Iwunzes side," says Oiyemhonlan. "Side note, if you go to a Nigerian party you can tell who the different couples are because more often than not they will be wearing matching outfits."

Afterwards, they offered a late-night surprise—sliders and a donut flambé station with an array of toppings including chocolate, caramel syrup, crushed Oreos, rainbow sprinkles, and chocolate shavings.

Venue: The Palm Event Center

Photographer:Kat Ma Photography

Dress: La Soie Bridal in Walnut Creek

Groom: Custom tux from Men's Warehouse

Hair and makeup: The Edit Salon and Spa

Shoes:Jimmy Choo

Bridesmaid dresses: The Dessy Group

Flowers:Greenery a la Jcap

Wedding coordinators: Jenny Hitesman and Jade Seck from the Palm Event Center

Caterer: Nigerian cuisine from Omokaro Catering

Cake:Cake Creations by Bev

Photo booth: Red Eye Collection

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