A Long Island wedding with Nigerian touches
Midway through their Sept. 7 reception at Giorgio's in Baiting Hollow, Kelly Ann "Peaches" and Egwuonwu "E.K." Ume slipped away to swap their conventional formalwear for traditional Nigerian garb, custom-made from imported velvet, lace and silk brocade. Then they made a second entrance, celebrating their vows one more time, with African feeling.
The event, which gathered guests from as near as Brooklyn and as far as Florida, Oklahoma and Trinidad, included plenty of all-American elements: Peaches' gorgeous one-shouldered Oleg Cassini gown from David's Bridal, a trio of adorable flower girls in poofy dresses, a tiered cake garnished with orange flowers to celebrate the coming of autumn. But it also incorporated Nigerian touches (E.K. was raised in Nigeria; Peaches was born in Trinidad), on the menu and in the music as well as in the wardrobes. The result was an event that expressed the style, personality and history of the wedding couple to a tee.
Peaches, 29, and E.K., 45, met by chance at a club, felicitously named Crossroads, in suburban Maryland in January 2009. E.K, a widower with two sons who manages a customer account group for a telecommunications company, was celebrating the end of the workweek with pals. Peaches, who at the time was living in Brooklyn and working in the Student Admissions Department at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, was visiting her friend Sheena Callender for the weekend. E.K. got her attention with his dance moves and kept it with his kindness, rescuing her from the unwanted attentions of another admirer. She says in amazement, "I fell in love with Egwuonwu Kalu Ume at first sight. I really did." The meeting was momentous for E.K. as well. "While dancing, our eyes got locked into the most amazing gaze I've ever had. I was completely lost in those beautiful eyes."
The two exchanged numbers. A long-distance courtship (Peaches can give advice about the relative merits of Bolt, Mega and Greyhound buses) led to a workplace proposal. With the cooperation of Peaches' boss, E.K. sneaked into her cubicle on the morning of Sept. 21, 2012, waited for her on bended knee and caught her completely by surprise.
When it came time to plan their wedding, Peaches found the spectacular waterside location on TheKnot.com. What sold her on Giorgio's? "The scenery was just to die for." The on-site catering team helped them design their dream menu, which was straight-up Italian with one exception -- curried goat, prepared by one of the chefs who happened to be Jamaican and gave the dish some authentic Caribbean flavor.
Several of the couple's friends who were with them on the night they met, including Callender, joined the wedding party along with E.K.'s sons, E.K. Jr. and Kalu. To celebrate their faith, Peaches and E.K. had their DJ play mostly gospel music, along with Nigerian tunes. They made their entrance to "Dis Kind God," a gospel song by Nigerian singer Chuks Chidube. And as they danced, friends and family showered them with money, a custom called "spraying" that signifies continuing abundance and is a staple of Nigerian celebrations of all kinds. Referring to the fabulous party but also to their meeting, E.K. says, "We both give God all the glory. Because if it weren't for him, it wouldn't have happened."