I shot my sister's traditional wedding and it was an absolute blast! 
the morning of, we woke to a busy compound - decorators, caterers, performers. everyone was busy transforming the house.
one-by-one, the bridesmaids (aso ebi girls) arrived, and the house was an assembly line - makeup, gele (head gear) and outfits were being done at various stations for almost 30 of my sisters, cousins, and closest friends

At noon, when the ceremony was to begin, no one had arrived. Ada (the bride) re-enacted a scene from Flavor’s music video for Ada-Ada. She stood out on the balcony, panicking that her beloved had changed his mind and wouldn’t come to marry her. Her bridesmaids came to her side, assuring her that “Fa ga bia”, they will come!

And then things took off. Ugo (the groom) arrived with the elders of his family and village. The male elders of the Agbim family welcomed them in, and discussions began. After verifying that the groom had come with all the required gifts, and the dowry had been paid, the ceremony began!

Ada and her bridesmaids came out to greet the crowd, performing a choreographed dance routine to entertain the guests. Her mother guided her, pointing out aunties, uncles, dignitaries, and other groups that deserved recognition. As they danced around our compound, guests celebrated with the bride and her bridesmaids in the Nigerian way - joining in the dance, congratulating her, and spraying her with money.

After greeting all the guests, the bride and her aso ebi girls went back in to change and prepare for the actual marriage process. Ada, with her aso ebi girls danced to her father, where Ada knelt and listened for further instructions. “Take this cup of wine. Go searching in the crowd for the man that you want to marry. When you find him, take a sip and have him drink the rest. Return to me with the man and an empty cup, that I may recognize the man you want to marry”

And the hunt begins. Ada searched through all the guests, looking for her true love. Along the way, many men reached out their hands, saying “give me the cup, let me be the one to drink!” In an attempt to impress, one man even tried to push down a tree! But with patience, and thanks to the hep of her bridesmaids, Ada found Ugo. She knelt down and presented the wine. He drank, and everyone cheered!

They went back to her father who gave them blessings. “Ugo’s father and I have been friends for over 50 years. We pray that our children exceed our friendship, with a marriage that will last even longer!” With his blessings, the deal was sealed, and Ada and Ugo were married!

The couple danced, joined by even more friends and family. Everyone had a blast.

And then the head of the Okonkwo family announced that it was time to go home. “Pack up your belongings, Ada. It is time to leave your father’s house and come to your new home”. It was an emotional time as Ada said goodbye. She is no longer from Nimo, she is an Nnewi wife. Tears flowed. Everyone hugged her and saw her off as her new family led her to the car. Aunties whispered words of advice on how to behave in her new home. Once upon a time, they too arrived in Nimo as a new bride, and now it is her turn to begin her own family . . .