When Nigerian-born Ayo Fawehinmi, 29, and Seun Oduneye, 28, were scouting locations for their October wedding, they looked to nature for inspiration. “We grew up surrounded by flowers and plants, and have always loved their beauty,” explains Ayo, who met her husband at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where they had both relocated for college. So when the couple discovered Wilmington's Delaware Center for Horticulture, an urban oasis with flourishing foliage and meandering gardens, they knew they'd hit pay dirt.
As sunlight streamed into the airy DuPont Pavilion, 145 guests watched Ayo walk down the aisle. Though the couple wore classic American wedding clothing for their vows (long white dress for her, dinner-jacket ensemble for him), they changed into Nigerian bridal outfits after the ceremony and danced their way into the reception hall to the beat of drum-heavy Yoruba music. “We had guests who came from far away to celebrate with us, and we wanted them to feel at home,” explains Ayo, who also arranged to serve African specialties like steamed moimoi bean cakes and fragrantly spiced rice, which appeared alongside American favorites like Crisfield crab dip. Just as the food merged African and American cultures, so, too, did the music—a lively blend of calypso-style soca tunes and typical wedding anthems. As Shania Twain's “From This Moment” began to play, Seun and Ayo stepped onto the dance floor. “On the outside I was calm,” says Ayo. “But inside, I was just trying to contain my happiness at having found such a special person.”—Hillary Quinn
Our Favorite Things
We are Family: When the DJ announced the prominent members of each family at the reception's start, Ayo and Seun's relatives entered the room and made their ways to the tables dancing, a Nigerian wedding custom.
The Twist: The dancing continued when Seun and his mom observed the all-American tradition of a mother-son dance. But the two customized it by twirling to a Nigerian song.
Joy of Cooking: In between shopping and party-planning, Ayo's mother—who stayed with her the week before the wedding—taught her how to prepare traditional Nigerian dishes.