Ijeoma and Ikenna met at a wedding while exchanging greetings with a mutual friend, although he had his eyes on her the whole time. The couple had always discussed plans to take their relationship to the next level and in the presence of their most favored companion Ikenna surprised the African lady that had the keys to his heart by proposing after a prayer in Church.
~ Photography by Akintayotimi
How We Met
From the Groom-to-be, Ikenna
I was at a wedding reception with my guys and this African lady walks in, scratch that, she glides in…her curves seem to propel her graceful gait. I instantly tapped one of my friends and said “bro, see babe…”.
I was having a pretty good weekend when she walked in, and a great business week – I guess the cash-flow was steady. However, I somehow forgot I had a wedding that Saturday, but as soon as I remembered I got my laundry done.
I can’t remember what I wore exactly, but like always I dressed like the life of the party. I called the gang up and we arrived the venue in style.
At this point, the African Lady is sitting at my opposite me so I aimed my eyes towards her. I wanted to make a statement, a non-verbal statement. I held the stare, until she was spooked, I was focused on getting her attention so I kept staring until I felt the tension and then I stopped.
She stood up, so I stood up too and then Chidi my friend walked into the hall, I was about to hail my guy and I see that the African lady knew Chidi too, they share a warm embrace and I was like “wow!”. I’m beaming in inexplicable joy, the equation is complete. I clap shoulders with Chidi and gist him about the whole thing. Chidi was geared up for the incursion, we walk up to her table and I introduced myself “I am Ikenna”…she laughed loud and said, “why have you been staring at me?…I’m Ijeoma”.
Moments later we were at the after party and what followed was the truest love story ever told.God has blessed me with the best woman there is, He has told me to marry her, so of course I would.
From the Bride-to-be, Ijeoma
The day I met Ikenna was magical! It brings a smiles to my face each time I remember the events of that day. It was a friend’s wedding and I had decided not to go following my involvement in a minor accident, however Chukwu, my cousin convinced me to attend the wedding and offered to be my driver for the day. When I got to the venue, I tried to shake off the experience, I cheered up and tried to make a conscious effort to be my high-spirited self.
My makeup was light and my hair was braided, as soon as we took the vacant seats at the youth corner, I turned my attention to a girlfriend of mine, we played catchup and took loads of selfies. I raised my head to look around and my eyes caught this guy staring straight at me.
I thought he was good-looking, but I looked away and pretended not to have noticed him. As I continued my discussion with my friend, I felt distracted, I certainly knew that he had not taken his eyes off me. In a bid to clear my doubts, I looked in his direction and there he was, with his eyes still fixed on me. I was uneasy at first and brought this to the attention of my friend, quipping with the lightness of a joke, “Why is this guy staring like he hasn’t seen a fine girl before?”.Not too long after that a family friend of mine Chidi walked in, I immediately recognized him and we exchanged pleasantries after which he left me and went to take a seat beside the same guy that had been staring all day. He had a very big grin on his face when he saw Chidi said hi to me. Chidi became the middleman and after the couple’s first dance, Chinelo and I went to over to congratulate the bride my friend Ngozi and her husband.
As we walked back to our table, I noticed this same guy and his eyes. This time the look was so unwavering that I nearly tripped on the rug, I became furious and complained to my friend, pointing out the guy that had been looking at me since I walked in. And all she did was to calm my nerves by saying with a smile on her face, “Relax, he doesn’t look bad.” Chidi returned to chat with me and Chinelo, a voice from behind him said “My name is Ikenna and I would like to speak to you”.There was now something pleasing, something subtle about his eyes. When I tried to speak, laughter came out in the place of words. I eventually introduced myself and asked why he had been staring. I could remember him smiling and saying that it was for a ‘good cause’ and he would like to get to know me better.
After the wedding, we all rocked the wedding after party together like we had known each other for a while. When I got tired, he offered to walk myself and my cousin to the car, thanked my cousin for bringing me to the wedding. I noticed I had to drive home because my cousin was no longer sober, I couldn’t drive with shoes, so I asked my new friend Ikenna to unstrap my sandals, he couldn’t resist my schoolgirl eyes as he stooped down to attend to the footwear without hesitation. We exchanged numbers and text messages later that night, went for a couple of dates and the rest is a romantic history.
From the Groom-to-be, Ikenna
I was drawn to Ijeoma when I first met her. The urge to always love, guide and protect was strong. It was that subtle premonition that made me save her number as “ijeoma my future”. We were in sync regarding what we wanted out of the relationship. Although we did clash at times, we also tried to figure each other out. It wasn’t easy, but love and faithfulness to our commitment pulled us through.
Going with our plans, I took a step in finding out what type of ring she would love, I knew I couldn’t ask anyone better than her sister, Nchedo and one of her best friends, Ditiem. Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint, her sister was even able to get me her ring size! My elder Sister helped get the ring from the UK and sent it down. All my effort to get it here before February 14th, to make the proposal even more romantic, didn’t work out. I got the ring on the 17th, I was a little disappointed but still excited enough to propose.I called my trusted friends and discussed how and when it’ll be best to propose.I wanted to pull this off elegantly and still surprise Ijeoma, she loves surprises. We thought of a plan and Febuary 23rd, was booked for a nice dinner for two.
I woke up with so much energy that morning, I kept the ring with my mum so I collected it from her, on my way to the restaurant. I was a little nervous though I called Ijeoma, told her I would love for us to make an inquiry at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Catholic Church. She obliged and we set a meeting time for 12noon.
The day wasn’t going as I planned and that added to my nerves. Traffic was terrible, I picked Ijeoma rather late, she kept calling to know where I was, as I complained that I was eating into her lunchtime. I was so upset with myself when she refused to leave the car. I went in alone, I inquired and came out.
Desperate to make peace on this special day I asked her to come inside and pray with me, I knew she wouldn’t decline that, I asked if she wouldn’t mind leading the prayers and we knelt at our favorite spot. She finished praying, got up and was waiting for me to stand up, but an new idea had popped in my head, it was so spontaneous that it surprised me myself.
Right there and then, I was still kneeling down, I asked the love of my life to marry me, I said “Ijeoma my queen, I’m asking you before God; the only person that matters in this relationship besides you, will you marry me? I love you deeply and truly and would love to spend the rest of my life with you” and then I presented the ring.
The look of sheer happiness on her face made my heart skip a beat. She said yes, laughing so hard and hugging me and momentarily forgot that we were still in a church. The drive back to her office was fun, she couldn’t stop calling her friends and family telling to tell them what had just happened and I eventually got to tell her of our prearranged evening plans. “Bliss right?”It still is!From the Bride-to-be, Ijeoma
Our love has transported through several phases of incremental bliss, for me, life has never been this colourful. Still, in the midst of this amorous ecstasy, we’ve kept our minds fixed on the target, we often discussed topics ranging from marriage, to names of our children, to living together as man and wife to wedding day dance moves – word on the street has it that Ikenna is sure to turn up.
We’ve often discussed the life ahead with so much certitude and we earmarked timelines for events with great assurance and trust in God. Marriage for us was always the end, not because of the need for certainty, but for love we found and desired to endure all this became apparent when Ikenna saved my number as “Ijeoma my future” as soon as we started dating.
February 23rd, 2016, over a week after a memorable valentine celebration with IK, he called me and asked me to accompany him to our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church to make inquiries about pre-marriage classes; it was all according to our script – so I suspected nothing. My head was aching and the honking noise from surrounding vehicles, the chanting from verbose conductors, the desperate marketing from pacing hawkers never seemed to stop.When we arrived at the church I was asleep, so Ikenna stepped out to ask the church officials questions and too long after he came back with some forms and asked me to come down from the car so we can quickly say a short prayer in church and commit everything to God.There were just two people in church. We quickly found our usual spot and knelt down to say the prayer. He asked me to lead the prayer which I did. I also noticed he was a bit tensed and sweating profusely. I quickly said the prayers and committed all our plans to God. After the prayers I heard him mumbling things. I was dragging him saying baby let’s go and talk outside its really quiet in here and people were praying. When I eventually looked down I saw something glittering, it was then I realised my best friend was going to ask me to marry him.I covered my face and put my head down, it was at that moment I heard the sound of my heart drumming and in that buzz, I heard these concise words:“baby, I want to spend the rest of my life with you…will you marry me?” I forgot I was in church, I forgot about the headache, I did not care about decorum at the time, I screamed yes and hugged him. We both got back into the car, I was so excited and happy. My eyes were red, on my hand the ring seemed to bring me some unexplainable joy. I immediately took my phone to inform my family and friends that I was engaged.
It is still hard to believe but everyday I relieve the same feelings I had felt the day he proposed. I’m still enchanted by Ikenna, I’m in awe of his awesomeness and I know that this feeling will never go away because true love never ends.Credits
Photographer: Akintayotimi | @akintayotimi