Captivating West African Engagement in New Orleans

Initially set up on a blind date by their family members for a Sunday family lunch, Ekemini and Harry's first meeting turned out to be somewhat awkward for them as a first date. Exchanging numbers afterwards and agreeing to meet on their own terms at a later time the two went their separate ways, Harry later finding out that Ekemini wasn't quite sure he was her type. When a month with no contact went by, fate would bring them back together for a chance encounter when they both stepped into the same elevator. After breaking the awkward ice they quickly reconnected on a more natural level, and in Harry's word, "that was the beginning of a life-long friendship to my best friend..."

Read all about Ekemini & Harry's love story, proposal, and wedding aspirations in their New Orleans engagement - beautifully captured by MunaLuchi Coterie member Mosaic by MG.

Bride & Groom-to-be: Ekemini & Harry
Occupations: Teacher & Transportation Engineer
Wedding date: Sunday, May 26, 2019
Wedding location: New Orleans, LA
Location of Engagement shoot: Tremé neighborhood and Audubon park

Tell us how you met. I honestly don't remember why my grandma and Ekemini's mom thought it was a good idea to set up a blind lunch date on Sunday with Ekemini and her family at their house. Even though she told me she was "beautiful, well-mannered, has a wonderful family and goes to my college" I was not in the best mood to meet new people because I had a quiz to study for that week. But I thought it might just be a good idea to eat some Nigerian food for a change. Not only did I not get my Nigerian food, it was the most awkward meeting EVER. These two "old match makers" kept pushing Ekemini and I to talk and get to know each other. After lunch we exchanged numbers and set up a date to hang out with no interruptions. You will think the worse was behind us, but Ekemini not only stood me up on our first date but she ignored all texts and phones calls, gave me no excuse as to why she left me hanging but she finally put the "nail in the coffin" by telling her family I "wasn't her type." A month went by with no contact and we coincidentally ran into each other in an elevator alone. You may think that first meeting was awkward, but this was "torture." With a big smile on my face, I finally said "hi, nice to see you again" and that just broke the ice. She apologized, and I walked her to her study group in the library. That was the beginning of a life-long friendship to my best friend.

Tell us about the proposal. The proposal took place at Ekemini's oldest sister, Oto's Master's Graduation Party. Our parents and I thought it would be awesome to surprise Ekemini during the party since she had no idea I was coming. She flew to Baton Rouge (BR) on Wednesday night and left me at home in Washington State, thinking I was taking care of the house while she was away. I left Washington 24 hrs. later for Baton Rouge. Before leaving I even Face-Timed with her in our apartment, so she could believe I was at home and going to bed early. But I was actually getting ready to fly to Baton Rouge. My phone was off the entire trip and right when I landed we started arguing as to why my phone was off. I had to lie and say, "my battery died," which it NEVER does. Even though she knew that my excuse was lame, she didn't want to continue to argue because she was away. Bear in mind that Washington is pacific time, so I had to pretend that I was still 2 hours behind the entire time. Early the next day, I made matters worse when I didn't pick up her calls because I was at my barber in Baton Rouge, whom she knows. Time difference didn't help, because technically I'm usually awake at 8am PST but told her I was asleep. We argued all day about why I hadn't been communicating frequently since she left for Baton Rouge. I had to broach the argument again to avoid any further disagreements...

The party was supposed to start for 3pm, so I got ready by 2pm. Left home and parked close to the party venue and waited for my opportunity to go in and propose. Ekemini's dad, Ben, went home to change after helping set up the party but since he was not in the loop about the proposal he decided to clean the entire house as well, so I had to wait almost 3 hours for him to get back to the party before I can go in. I was so hungry that I almost gave up on the proposal (LOL) since I hadn't eaten all day.
Ben finally shows up and the plan was Ekemini and her sisters were supposed to give speeches before everybody started eating. Oto and Uyuho's speeches were short but Ekemini kept "yapping away" which gave me enough time to come through the door, and immediately get on one knee in front of her. I will NEVER forget that beautiful surprise on her face and her repeatedly saying “I can't stand you.” The crowd was rocking, clapping and cheering and when they all finally settled, I told her how much I love her and pulled the "shiny rock" and popped the question. I’ve never been that nervous in my entire life but it was the best feeling that I’ve ever felt. She smiled and said "YES!" Our families walked over, hugged and kissed us while we danced to our favorite Nigerian song, "Na Gode" by Yemi Alade ft. Selebobo. The planning, hiding of the ring and text messages from parents and jewelers, and "flimsy” excuses made the day so much more special and worth it.

Describe your engagement session. For those of you who don’t know, I am a first generation Nigerian-American. My fiance, Harry, is Ghananian. We’re so much alike, and like so many of the same things that the difference in our cultures never stood out much to us since we’ve met. With all this planning to become one, we’re trying to find the perfect ways to respectfully appreciate both of our backgrounds even though we are both West African. We wanted our engagement photos to be taken in New Orleans, but also wanted to be dramatic, hence the handmade African outfits. We took all of our photos outdoors and Shagari definitely captured the natural earthy feel we were going for.

What did you do on your first date? We had a dinner date at BJ's Brewery Restaurant in Baton Rouge

What's your favorite thing to do as a couple? As corny as this might sound, lately we've been really into home improvement. But we love to kayak and try different Thai restaurants around Washington. We love love love Thai.

How has wedding planning been so far? It's been so exciting and overwhelming at the same time. It's been amazing to see Harry take control of certain tasks! He definitely reduces my stress of trying to plan a wedding way across the country. It's creeping up on us and we can not wait until May!

Tell us what you're looking forward to most on the wedding day. The RECEPTION! We don't plan on sitting at all during the reception. We can't wait to dance with all of our family and friends. We encourage everybody to bring your dollar bills because there will be MONEY DANCES!

Photographer: Mosiac by MG
Makeup: Yes InDeedy
African attire: Jacinta's Apparel & Alterations

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