This Destination Wedding in Makeni Will Blow Your Mind
Go where you are celebrated! I know it sounds a bit cheesy but for some Sierra Leonean couples in the diaspora, a destination wedding celebration is homecoming. Home is a place they know their shared values will be celebrated.
“For some Sierra Leonean couples in the diaspora, a destination wedding celebration is homecoming. Home is a place they know their shared values will be celebrated."
Destination Wedding in Makeni, Sierra Leone
When Maria, a respected UN professional based in Kenya enquired about the posssiblity of planning her weddding in Sierra Leone, I immediately assumed she meant the capital city, Freetown. Little did I know that "home" for her was "upline" as in Makeni (a town in rural Sierra Leone).
For the bride, Makeni was no ordinary location; it was a place that held special memories of her childhood with Umar (the groom ). So after several consultations with both her and Umar, a senior medical professional based in London, flights were booked for both myself and British photographer Tino Antoniou and we set off on a journey we will never forget.
Don't get me wrong I did my homework, well I thought I did. Several virtual tours of the wedding venue were done from the comfines of my sofa in London and from the website, I truly believed the venue was pretty decent, but boy was I wrong! This would be the most challenging wedding project I'd ever embark on. Logistically everything was a challenge. With no wedding supplier based in Makeni, all the rentals had to be procured from the capital city Freetown. The wedding ballroom needed a quick makeover and there was only one of me. According to to Tino, I should have invited the BBC to film our experience. Ha!
On the first day of the three day wedding celebrations, Maria threw a "contri marraid"(a cultural wedding ceremony) for literally the entire community. Tino quickly gained some superfans as he had a more pleasant disposition and wasn't as moany as I was. I on the other hand was teased by the bride for being"schwen schwen... Lef Rugie normore you know say e false!" Translated ( Rugie is bit precious, she's being pretentious). In Nigeria I was told the equivalent is "ageh butter." Well my hormones were all over the place...so i put it down to that!
When we arrived in Makeni for the three day wedding celebrations, I immediately understood why Maria and Umar had insisted on hosting their wedding in Makeni; they were treated like royalty, they were celebrated, their homecoming was quite emotional actually. It was uniquely special. I am going to stop here now with a few lovely photos.
Sending you all love x
Maria was headstrong, she wanted very bright colours, cobalt blue and yellow and the wedding had to be in Wusum hotel-no less (the best in Makeni). Ha! I'll never forget the battles as I tried to talk her into more muted colours but as it should be, her voice was upheld.
They got married in the loal catholic church, Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral, Makeni.
The catholic priest who officiated their wedding knew Maria since primary school. It was truly a sight to behold
When we arrived in Makeni for the three day wedding celebrations, I immediately understood why Maria and Umar insisted on Makeni; they were treated like royalty, they were celebrated, their homecoming was quite emotional actually.
All the rentals had to be procured from the capital city Freetown- Now that was a logistical nightmare!
On the first day of the three day wedding celebrations, Maria threw a "contri marraid"( cultural wedding) for literally the entire community
Planning a destination wedding is just not limited to virtual meetings and staying in fancy hotels it is also about being tough enough to deal with unexpected challenges, committing to your couple's vison against all odds, uniting and celebrating family values.
Tips for planning a Destination Wedding in Rural Sierra Leone
Don't trust what you see on websites; do several site visits in person
Have multiple meetings and training sessions with all your suppliers
Ensure all your logistics guys and hostesses travel days ahead of the wedding and are briefed in situ
Always add miscellaneous to your budget for endless tips
Take lots of paracetamol and your fave delights with you.. you are going to need it
Come prepared with every tiny detail and lots of repellants
Enjoy yourself- remember why you are doing it and don't overstrectch yourself
Photography: Tino Antoniou
Cake: Patiserelle by Maricelle Bull
Rentals - Cyrillia Davies, Music Makers and Theresa
Venue: Wusum Hotel, Makeni
Destination Wedding Planner: Mrs Wedding Planner
Wedding Cordinator : Cyrllia Davies
Caterer: Mr Kainase
I would like to dedicate this post to my beloved friend Mr Hydara,the driver who took on this task with me and always drove me around for destination weddings in Sierra Leone. He was such a joy to be around. He passedaway last wek after a short illness in Sierra Leone. He left me a voicenote. Praying that his family are comforted at this difficult time.
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