Cultural Weddings/Real Weddings

Colorful Dance-filled Nigerian & Japanese Sonoma Wedding

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Okay, that’s it, who needs to hire a wedding editor to come to their Nigerian wedding ceremony? I want in!

Yumi & Dayo called family & friends from Nigeria, Japan, Europe, and across the US to Sonoma for their colorful, joyous, multi-cultural & best of all dance-filled wedding celebration.

While their wedding featured nods to both of their cultural heritages, the ceremony was centered around Nigerian tradition, spoiling the bride, groom & guests with a jubilant series of dances as they tied the knot.

Colorful, lively & ever-so-happy, Zoe Larkin Photography‘s images are no doubt about to put a massive smile on your face.

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Our Love Story

We met on a dating app in 2014 while both working 80-hour weeks. Our first date was at Beretta, a pizzeria in the Mission district in San Francisco, on a Tuesday night. We bonded over the deliciousness of their walnut bread and talked every day since that first date.

Four years and many travels later, on a jet-lagged afternoon after returning from our third trip to Japan together, Dayo proposed to me at our favorite location, where we felt most “at home”, literally – on the couch in our shared apartment.

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The Destination

Our immigrant parents raised us very much Japanese and Nigerian, and we wanted to honor our heritage which is very much a part of who we are. Since our wedding was likely the only time our collective families and friends from Nigeria, Japan, Europe, and across the US would be in one location at the same time, we wanted to choose a location that would be memorable not just for us, but for our guests as well.

Cornerstone in Sonoma was the perfect venue – it has a wine country feel, with lush greenery and gardens. It has multiple different spaces within the same grounds for the ceremony, dining, and dancing, which we felt was unique and fun.

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The Family Heritage

The format of our wedding ceremony was Nigerian but also incorporated some Japanese elements too. Dayo’s mom had our Aso Oke and the bridal party’s Aso Ebi made in Nigeria, and my family wore Kimonos.

We wanted the day to not only be about us but a celebration of family – in the Nigerian ceremony, the families were “introduced” to each other by way of dancing up to and bowing to the other side of the family. The song for our first dance was sung by our sisters, which was one of our favorite moments of the day.

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Favorite Moments

The day involved a lot of music and dancing both during the ceremony and reception, and everyone just went with the flow… which made for some memorable organic moments.

One of our favorite moments was right after the ceremony concluded, when the bride, groom, and bridal party was supposed to recess down the aisle. Dayo was leading the recessional, dancing to the music and the beat of the drum. Halfway through the recessional, his groomsmen called out for him to stop and wait – he had forgotten his bride who was still at the end of the line! I had been preoccupied dancing with my bridesmaids that I forgot to go with my husband – I rushed forward and we continued down the aisle together, both us and our guests laughing non-stop.

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The Planning

Given our (and our family’s and bridal party’s) busy work schedules, we couldn’t find the time to fit in a proper rehearsal. Mrs. Osineye, the officiant for our Nigerian ceremony who flew in from Chicago, gave us, our families and our bridal party a crash course on the flow of the ceremony in about 15 minutes, right before it started – and we pulled it off, thanks to her and our wonderful wedding planner Lindsey from Ooh-La-La Weddings. Lindsey created PDFs of the general timeline and layout of the venue, which we were able to email to our wedding party several days prior.

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The Photography

We knew that we wanted the day documented but in a way that was natural and unstaged. Zoe from Zoe Larkin Photography had captured our intimate San Francisco City Hall ceremony which had taken place five months prior, with just a handful of close friends. You can check out that ceremony here on Zoe’s blog. We loved her bright and timeless style, and her ability to really capture the joy and emotion in her work.

We were lucky that Zoe was able to photograph our larger Sonoma wedding – now, one year later, we are still able to re-live the joy of the day through her photos, and can even feel the warm spring breeze and the sunlight reflecting off the lush greenery that surrounded us. You can see more of the Sonoma wedding here on Zoe’s blog.

For videography, we were looking for someone to document our day without a lot of fluff. We got lucky finding Chris from Last Light Weddings, who captured the authentic moments of our day beautifully.

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The Florals & Decor

The dining area was in a garden with blooming flowers, so we kept the floral arrangements simple. Vanda Florals made me the most beautiful bouquet with bright pops of color, with small vase arrangements for the tables which added a nice pop of color to the simple decor.

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Advice to Other Couples

It’s true what people say – your wedding day will go by really fast. Too fast, really.

Spend time looking for a photographer and videographer whose style speaks to you, because you will cherish those captured moments for years to come.

Also, find a good wedding planner – for us, it was key to keeping the wedding stress free – not only the planning and coordination leading up to it but most importantly being able to focus on just enjoying the day.

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