Black love is in the air!
According to People, Chinenye “Chiney” Ogwumike, 31, announced her marriage to heavyweight boxer and mechanical engineer Ethasor “Raphael” Akpejiori, 33, via The Knot on Monday.
The pair tied the knot with four days of events that included two wedding ceremonies and 10 distinct bridal looks for Ogwumike.
People reported the nuptial celebrations began on Nov. 15 with a welcoming party at Ogwumike’s family home, followed the next day by a traditional Nigerian ceremony at the Igbo Catholic Community Center in Houston, Texas, attended by over 900 guests.
Ogwumike said The Knot was super helpful, particularly with suppliers and invites. The two-time WNBA All-Star also collaborated with wedding planner Doyin Fash.
Ogwumike is a first-generation Nigerian-American, whereas Akpejiori was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. She told People their weddings were “a royal celebration of Nigerian culture, family and community.”
The first ceremony proceeded in three parts, per Ogwumike’s Igbo tradition, beginning with the groom’s introduction and the bride’s welcome. During the “Wine Carry” stage, Ogwumike went searching for Akpejiori.
“He’s hiding in the crowd, she finds him and offers him palm wine to drink,” she explained, “he drinks it and they go receive a blessing from her parents.”
At that moment, the bride and groom were introduced as a married couple and Ogwumike became an Edo bride, adopting her husband’s customs.
They also incorporated other Nigerian wedding rituals, including giving the kola nut, a prayer of appreciation to the lineage and people who came before the pair, and their parents’ blessing of the newlyweds.
Ogwumike’s mother drew and designed several of her Nigerian wedding outfits with help from two “top-notch” Nigerian tailors. The bride wore a blue Anulika Ugwu gown to symbolize her “maiden” status, followed by a traditional white beaded Igbo gown by Sapphire Lily to demonstrate she was “ready for marriage,” according to People.
She donned a traditional Edo red strapless gown decorated with coral beads by Anulika Ugwu after she and Akpejiori married and gained their parents’ blessing.
Following the ceremony, visitors dined on typical Nigerian fare, such as coconut rice, yam porridge, moi-moi, egg rolls, meatballs, nuts, puff puff, and plantain chips.
Ogwumike and Akpejiori attended a Burna Boy performance at the Toyota Center with some of their loved ones on Nov. 17 amid their wedding festivities.
The couple said “I do” for the second time on Nov. 18 in a “white wedding” ceremony at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in front of 700 people. Ogwumike collaborated with Nigerian designer Nneka Alexander of Brides by Nona to create a custom gown.
Happy Jewelers in Fullerton, California, designed her wedding jewelry, including her engagement ring and wedding band.
The newlyweds’ reception was held in Tomball, Texas, where Ogwumike was born. Former WNBA player Lisa Leslie, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, singer Tamar Braxton and retired NFL star Emmanuel Acho, were among the celebrity attendees. Dinner was, once again, a buffet of southern and Nigerian specialties.
In light of their hectic work schedules, the newlyweds intend to skip their honeymoon in favor of a series of “mini-moons” until 2024, which Ogwumike said will consist of extended weekend trips to places including Bora Bora and Aruba. “We are looking forward to it!” she added.
Ogwumike and Akpejiori got engaged on Christmas Eve last year. After meeting on a dating app, the pair had their first date at a Burna Boy concert in Los Angeles. They also watched him perform in Miami for their first anniversary, making their attendance at his concert amid their wedding festivities all the more special.
Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.