Scintillating! That is how the traditional and white weddings that united two powerful Yoruba families-the Sijuwade and Folawiyo families, would have been described, but it was more than that. It was something in the neighbourhood of utopia and of course, Eldorado.
The ceremonies which took place over two weekends, required painstaking preparations and were in every sense a celebration of love at its best between Prince Aderemilekun Sijuwade, the bearded handsome son of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and Princess Olabisi Abike Folawiyo, the delectable daughter of late successful businessman and former Baba Adinni of Nigeria, Chief Iyanda Folawiyo.
Consequently, sequel to the biblical injunction that he that finds a wife has found a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord, the couple, with magnificent support from their families, friends and well-wishers, set out to formalize and solemnize their relationship at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, where the first of the events-the traditional ceremony -took place.
At various centres, events kicked off on the beautiful day in preparation for the high society union. At the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites where the groom and his men were lodged, an exclusive OVATION photoshoot held to capture the finer moments of the groom’s last hours as a bachelor. There was a beehive of activities at the home of the bride as well, who with a retinue of friends, effortlessly slid into her royal traditional apparel.
A highlight of that morning was Prince Aderemi demonstrating what a helpless romantic he is by surprising his beautiful bride in the early hours of that morning with a brand new white Mercedes Benz car gift which he had delivered to her hotel. Labisi, who owns the popular makeup studio, Facesbylabisi, was as ecstatic as she was astonished by this breath-taking romantic gesture from her Prince Charming-her mouth agape as she saw the wonder-on-wheels for the first time and sat in the driver’s seat for selfies.
This is not forgetting the gathering of the groom’s family at the lobby of the Federal Palace Hotel, where special guests made a royal stopover with pleasantries, clicking of cameras for selfies and the expression of goodwill before proceeding to the banquet hall.
The event itself was everything but low key right from the lobby of the hotel where the Arike Ade Cultural Group from Ile Ife, which came to honour a Prince of their town, kept the atmosphere lively with rhythmic beats of their drums renting the air, complemented by scintillating dance rhythms by a group of three professional female dancers; Temitope Onitiju, Aminat Eluguaju and Yetunde Olaleye.
The drumming and the dancing heralded the arrival of the esteemed guests, ferried into the hotel premises and available parking spaces in their state-of-the-art automobiles. Among such dignitaries were the founder of First City Monument Bank, Otunba Subomi Balogun, former Editor of the defunct Concord Newspaper, Chief Doyin Abiola, amongst others.
It was not long before the call for the business of the day was made, and like a royal carnival, the special guests marched majestically to the magnificently decorated Balmoral Convention Centre, accompanied by deafening sounds of traditional music popping off the well-crafted drums and gongs among many other instruments of various traditional groups that filled the arena. It was a combination of colours ranging from blue to white
The presence of Kunle Komolafe’s Ksquared Security Services ensured that only invited guests gained entrance into the venue.
The arrival of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, caused a positive stir, completely revving up the pace of the atmosphere. His presence intensified the drumming and singing as the reverred monarch waited for the right time to alight from his sparkling-white Rolls Royce Phantom which had come to a halt at the entrance. Once out, he made his way through a path lined up by dancers, drummers and palace guards.
Inside the Balmoral was a distinct fountain which reflected purified colours and more exquisite sight of green and white with each table decorated like the traditional cap of the Ooni resting on a stool. The bride and groom’s corner was another splash of green and white with a sporadic show of lights.
With the Ooni and his entourage seated, the event proper commenced as the compere, Abimbola Akinwunmi, started with ushering in the parents of the couple, who danced in in glory with music befitting of the Yoruba tradition.
This was followed by the entrance of the groom’s family who entered in a blaze of glory, momentarily turning the environment to blue, and then the traditional rites began with communication carried on in both Yoruba and English languages.
The compere welcomed guests and thanked everyone for coming before proceeding to order a minute silence in honour of the couple’s deceased fathers – Alhaji Iyanda Folawiyo and Oba Okunade Sijuwade. The honours were performed according to both Islamic and Christian injunctions. With attendant eulogies rendered to the memories of the great men, the mothers of the couple were obliged five minutes to exhibit their dance steps, and boy did they impress! At that point, it was proved that the ‘old woman is never too old for the dance she knows very well’.
The ceremony moved ahead to the presentation of the proposal letter by the groom’s family, which the Ooni blessed before it was handed over to the parents of the bride. The letter was then read by the bride’s younger sister, Aisha Folawiyo, who afterwards was treated to a dance.
The bride’s family followed up with their own acceptance letter, which paved the way for the triumphant entry of the man of the moment, the hunk-like handsome son of the 50th Ooni of Ife, in the person of Prince Aderemi Sijuwade. His entrance came with pomp and circumstance accompanied by his friends.
At the stage, the compere mandated the removal of caps by the groom and his companions, and at the count of two, all of them were face down on the floor, prostrating in total obeisance to the parents of the bride and respect for the undying Yoruba culture.
With classic music interlude provided by two live bands-Excellent Band and Queen Ayo Balogun and the Heritage Voices Band, as well as cultural groups, the stage was set for the beautiful prize that Prince Aderemi had been longing for Olabisi Abike Folawiyo.
Then, she enetered, clad in shiny baby pink coloured lace attire with a velvety veil over her face, which traditionally symbolises her purity and innocence before her husband to be. She was surrounded by a bevy of gorgeous ladies, dressed in matching colours and attires. At the centre, with emotion running high, she wrapped herself round her mother, and both shed tears of joy and love, as an eventual departure from home for a new life of marriage beckoned.