Kelisha and Ucheuma, A Multi-Cultural Nigerian-American Wedding in Maryland-USA

Kelisha and Ucheuma first met as pharmacy technician interns forming a strong friendship of support. After many years they would come to realize that the greatest medicine was the love they shared for each other. The couples’ love for wine was the inspiration for their winery setting wedding. The beautiful fall color theme perfectly complimented the rustic backdrop and rolling green forest hills. A traditional attire Nigerian reception brought the unforgettable evening to a finish…

Read all about Kelisha and Ucheuma’s love story, romantic proposal, and experiences in their winery wedding with traditional Nigerian reception.

Bride & Groom: Kelisha & Ucheuma
Occupations: Critical Care Pharmacist & Forensic Examiner
Wedding location: Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery in Thurmont, MD

Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. We met in 2002 as pharmacy technician interns at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Uche, who is a complete comedian, won over the likes of everyone through laughter. Through the years we maintained a great friendship, supporting each other in our professional and personal lives. I still remember when I received all “A’s” in one semester of undergrad, how Uche was the first person to send me a good job card. Uche still remembers when departing for pharmacy school, how I researched the grocery stores in Boston and sent him a gift card to get food. In 2010, we realized that we have a lot in common and decided to pursue a romantic courtship. After 3 years of a long distance relationship between Boston and Baltimore, Uche decided to move back home and we purchased a house near the National Harbor.

On Nov. 29, 2014, Uche proposed to me before we left for Pittsburgh. He is an avid Steelers fan and I love the Saints! It just so happen that our teams would be playing each other in Pittsburgh. Christmas is my favorite holiday and on our way to the game, Uche wanted to stop at the National Harbor so that I could see the beautiful Christmas tree and to pick up team hats (so he says!). I noticed that Uche was taking his time walking around the Harbor and I was anxious about us getting on the road, so we wouldn’t miss the game. While everything was beautiful around me, I couldn’t stop fussing about us getting to Pittsburgh so that we wouldn’t have to sit in traffic, but Uche had other plans. He took me on the Ferris Wheel that overlooked the entire Potomac River stretching up and down the DC-MD-VA corridor. We were on that Ferris Wheel for a long time, I thought we would never get off. Once we finally got off, Uche took me to an area where we were surrounded by all of these little snow white Christmas trees and a fire pit in the middle. He started talking about life and what we should do next, and of course, I was giving him the side eye that we could talk about this in the car on the way to Pittsburgh. Finally, he said, “I think what is next for us is marriage,” and he got down on one knee and proposed! I was in such shock and the people passing by started clapping. I immediately said “yes” and starting crying. The Saints actually won the game that weekend and I took home two wins – my team and my love!

What was wedding shopping like for you? Naturally, after the engagement I started looking for a wedding dress. I fell in love with Maggie Sottero as a designer. Her dresses are form fitting and looked stunning on any woman. I was a “mermaid” style type of girl. About a year out from my wedding date, one of the bridal stores was having a sale and they sold Maggie’s gowns. So, I rounded up my mom, and maid & matron of honor to go dress shopping. My shopping experience was amazing! As soon as we entered, we started pulling dresses. I only pulled the Divina Style Maggie Sottero dress. In total, I tried on 10 dresses, but I knew that was the one. The other dresses were just to please my mom! As soon as I tried it on and looked in that mirror I was WOW’D! I could see myself looking back at my wedding photos in 20 years, saying “I looked gorgeous and elegant.” The way that dress hugged my curves and the soft layers on the bottom was everything that I could dream of. There was no doubt in my mind that I would shine as bright as a diamond in that gown!
The groom wore a navy blue Vera Wang tuxedo with a blinged out orange bowtie and handkerchief. The groomsmen wore charcoal grey Vera Wang tuxedos and the bridesmaids wore grey Bill Levkoff chiffon dresses. The bridesmaids were able to choose from four styles ranging from one shoulder, strapless, key hole back, and sheer overlay. I wanted them to be comfortable and confident in what they would be wearing. The dress that each lady chose really complimented their personalities.

Describe your wedding style? We really wanted to have our wedding at a winery. Uche and I go on wine tours all the time and whenever we visit a new place, one of the many things we do must include trying regional wines. So it was only fitting to have our wedding at a winery, it was a true feel of the thing we enjoy as a couple. When you drink wine you feel classy and sophisticated but not stuffy! So we followed that theme for our wedding – class and comfort! Our wedding location was the epitome of class. The ceremony was held outside, overlooking the sprawling mountains. There was a beautiful water fountain, a lavender field, and the chandeliers were made out of wine glasses. The comfort part was found in much of the food, decor, and dancing. We had food that was truly good for the soul, including; Jamaican rice-n-peas, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, teriyaki tilapia, and much more. Much of the decor was DIY (with the help of friends), but it sure didn’t look like it. We had guests sign Jenga pieces with well wishes because we love to host game nights, this created a comfortable atmosphere. You could even take your shoes off to boogie with us on the dance floor! The guests could really relate to us and have a front row seat into who we are as a couple.

What were your wedding colors? Our wedding colors were burnt orange and grey. Fall is one of my favorite seasons and we felt that those colors were rich and warm for the season, so we had to have them for our wedding.

Bridesmaids/Groomsmen gifts: Bridesmaids – Michael Kors wallets, jewelry, and robes. Groomsmen – Personalized glasses made from Jameson whiskey bottles.
Favorite item on the menu: Mac ‘n cheese
First dance song: Anthony Hamilton – “Point of It All”

Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? My husband is Jamaican and Nigerian. So we tell people that we had a tri-fold wedding, with American/Jamaican/Nigerian elements. The cultural aspects gave our wedding a different flare that some of our guests had never experienced before! For the Jamaican element, we decided to have the culture incorporated in our food. The guests were able to dine on Jamaican patties, curry chicken, and rice n peas. As an edible favor, guests were able to take home a piece of Jamaican wedding cake. The Nigerian part of the wedding blew our guests away! Uche’s family have a rich Ekpeye heritage and legacy. Uche and I changed into our traditional Nigerian attire (Uche changed 3 times to be exact!) and we danced with our family and friends to Nigerian music. Nigerian events are celebrations of life, love, and culture through song and dance. Even my family and our bridal party wanted to dress traditional and be a part of the festivities. They embraced the Nigerian culture with open arms. We did the traditional money dances and danced the night away with our guests. I felt like an African Queen. The vibrant colors and the sparkle of the traditional attire looked so great. As new husband and wife, it is an Ekpeye ritual that we have the blessing of this union by the bride’s family. We presented my brother with a glass of wine and he gave his blessing upon our union- wishing us many years of a successful marriage. Our guests described the Nigerian element as one of the most beautiful things they have ever seen at a wedding!

What is your best memory from your wedding?
Bride – My favorite moment is when I changed into the Nigerian traditional attire. Being African American and never doing this at a wedding, I didn’t know what to expect. When I danced into the ballroom with my family, my husband’s family, and the bridesmaids I was overwhelmed with joy to see his family accept me as their own. The look on my husband’s face was priceless. He was happy to see his wife beautifully adorned and fully accepting his culture. In that moment, I realized that not only are we accepting each other, but we are embracing our loved ones and the things that make us different but unique.
Groom – My favorite moment of the wedding was when I held my bride’s hand to take a pre-wedding photo. We held hands in-between a doorway, but were unable to see each other. Leading up to this point, I was very anxious with preparing for the events of the day (partially because I promised not to have any drinks/shots prior to the ceremony). It was an instant feeling of relief once we held hands. To know that all the sleepless nights, planning, anxiety, and stress was finally over. At this point, I was envisioning how my bride was going to look. I could hear the happiness in her voice, even though I could not see her. She sounded so excited and relieved. At this point, I knew that all the hard work was done and it was time to enjoy our day.

What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? After the ceremony is over, take just a few minutes between you and your spouse to enjoy the moment. Your guests will immediately want to take pictures of you and congratulate you, but just take a moment to take it all in. Go to a private area to be with your spouse and tell him or her everything that you love about them or just laugh about funny stuff that may have happened leading up to the ceremony. We had one photographer with us during our private moment and he caught some of the best shots of just the two of us. Remember the day is about the both of you, so take a minute to enjoy each other!
Take your time planning your wedding. Don’t let anyone rush you. We were engaged for almost 2 years during our wedding planning process. I’m such a perfectionist and I didn’t want to miss any little detail. We also didn’t want to settle or compromise on something we didn’t like for cheaper cost, so instead we took the time to save the money to get everything we wanted. Uche and I had just brought a house a few months before our engagements, so we already knew the commitment to each other was there, especially with a mortgage! For us, their was no need to rush a wedding because our love for each other was of the most importance and a wedding wasn’t going to change that.

Wedding Coordinator – Simply Breathe Events (Coordinator Latoria Williams)
Officiant: Rev. Alfred Bailey of the New Psalmist Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery
Caterer: Carriage House Inn
Wedding Dress Designer – Maggie Sottero
Wedding Dress Salon – Couture by Posh Bridal
Wedding Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Bridemaids Dress – Bill Levkoff purchased at Bella Bridemaids
Groomsmen Tuxedos: Black by Vera Wang purchased at Men’s Wearhouse
Hair: Serenity Spa and Boutique (stylist Adrienne)
Makeup: Jaded Beauty Makeup Artistry (artist Montique Miller)
Photography: 3Lindvision Photography & IIM Photography
Videography: Professional Services of Dennis Vice
Florist: Sweet Pea Petals
Cake: Custom Cake Designs
Décor: Le Chateau De Crystale Events
Caricatures: Sketch Faces DC
Photobooth: Smooth Flicks Photobooth
DJ: Elite Mixers Entertainment (DJ Mixxed)
Lighting: WoW Event Lighting

Help a Bride-to-be out! The wedding is only the beginning of your journey, take time to enjoy one another. Every conversation doesn’t have to be about the wedding. 

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