A lot of my work relies on having excellent vendors. People that are professional, reliable and trustworthy. I’ve been working with Ogechi, my friend and make-up artist for three years. Whenever I take on a bride-to-be as a client, I always refer them to Ogechi because she is great at what she does, and she’s a real people person. She goes out of her way to make sure the client is happy with her work, and she also helps me with making sure the wedding day activities go smoothly.
This weekend, we are working on a high society wedding. The bride is the daughter of a billionaire businessman and well-known philanthropist. Her mother is the owner of a very successful chain of restaurants, popular in Lagos and Abuja. The groom is the son of a governor, and fashion designer. Talk of the impending marriage has been in the lifestyle magazines, blog and social media for months. Everyone who is everyone in the society is coming to this wedding, so I know that my assistants and I, plus all our vendors have to be at the top of our game.
I’d met the bride and her mum during the planning stages and I thought they were both very lovely people. Even though they were wealthy, the bride has a sweetness and innocence about her that was very endearing. She was humble and polite, and a pleasure to work with. I hadn’t met her fiancé but I sure hoped he realised what a beautiful person he was getting married to and he appreciated her.
On the day of the traditional engagement ceremony, Ogechi and I arrived at the bride’s parent’s house where the ceremony was being held. I went to coordinate the seating arrangements and serving points in the huge garden, while Ogechi went to start working on the bride. A few minutes later, my phone rang.
“Hello?” It was Ogechi.
“Please come upstairs. Come to the bride’s room.”
I went upstairs, and found my way to the bride’s room where she was getting dressed.
“Ogechi, what’s the matter?”
She turned to me and whispered. “The bride has bruises on her face. She said her fiancé hit her last night during an argument.”
My heart sank. I went over to where the bride sat on her bed, crying.
“Ronke? Is this true?”
She nodded in-between her sobs.
I rarely get emotional, but I hugged the bride and got her to stop crying after a few minutes. I asked her if she still wanted to go ahead with the marriage, and she said yes. Ogechi and I exchanged a look, but we shrugged. I went to look for the bride’s mother, while Ogechi said she would try to cover the bruises as well as she could with make-up.
I found the mother of the bride, she was already gorgeously dressed and was posing for photos with other members of the family. There was a photographer from one of the high society magazines there already, and I knew that those photos would be in the next magazine’s edition. I excused myself and called the bride’s mum aside to explain what happened. Her bright smile disappeared as I spoke to her.
She sighed slowly and shook her head.
“But he said he would stop hitting her after the last time,” she said, avoiding looking at me directly. “Let me see what I can do.”
She hurried off in the direction of the bride’s room. I was torn between following her and returning to the garden. After a few minutes, I decided to return to work.
The next time I saw the bride, she had been transformed. She was dressed in gorgeous aso-oke, with beautiful jewellery and accessories. Ogechi had done a great job with her make-up, and there wasn’t a hint of any sadness on her face. She was smiling for the photographers, and she looked happy, relaxed, even excited to be getting married. I saw her dance into the garden with her friends, join with the groom, and perform all the necessary rites of the engagement ceremony. I saw them kiss, and smile at each other. I saw them dance all evening and leave the house later, hand-in-hand in a brand new car, one of the gifts they had just been given.
On the morning of the white wedding ceremony, Ogechi called me again.
“This time, the bride’s eye is swollen and half-shut. I don’t think make-up can fix this.”
Memoirs of a Lagos Wedding Planner is a flash-fiction series of 8 stories. Stop by next Friday for the next episode. Meanwhile, catch up on past episodes.
About the Author:
Tolulope Popoola is an award winning Author, Publisher and Writing Coach. She is the author of two collections of flash fiction stories, “Fertile Imagination” and “Looking For Something”, and a romance novel “Nothing Comes Close”. She has written extensively for many magazines and publications. Tolulope is the founder of Accomplish Press, a coaching, consulting and publishing company, that provides services to support aspiring authors. She was given a special Award of Excellence at the 2016 Nigerian Writers’ Awards, and has recently been shortlisted for Diaspora Writer of the Year for the 2017 awards.She has also earned the nickname of “Africa’s flash fiction queen” for her unique ways with writing dramatic short stories.