The wedding of Edwina Kaliku and James McCormick Jr. took place at the Polish Community Center in Albany on Saturday, but it was steeped in all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional Nigerian wedding.
Still, the emcees acknowledged that there were many compromises, like the setting and the abundance of English spoken during the ceremony.
Delayed because of a missing key for the bride’s changing room, the afternoon started slowly before peaking with the unveiling of the newlyweds in matching white outfits and an energetic circle of dancing
The process was initiated by host Bunmi Erogbogbo, who began by providing a brief history of the Kalikus’ ancestral home in the Agbor Kingdom of Nigeria and transitioned into a medley of songs. The singing began with the retelling of the couple's courtship, which started from a friendship, and the following songs explained a series of tasks necessary for completion for the wedding.
Those tasks included the groom wooing the bride’s mother, which consisted of him giving her a bottle of wine, and the father of the bride, Edwin Kaliku, of Schenectady, was forced to appeal to his elders for approval to proceed with the wedding, which meant presenting an argument to the good-natured men at the next table.
Throughout this lengthy process, the thing that stood out the most was the posh garb worn by the men and the women.
“Today is all about color and liveliness,” said Towanna Ramdeen of Albany. “This is all about, ‘Ooh, look.’”
The colors consisted of everything across the rainbow, with women wearing decorative traditional headdresses paired with modern shoes. Men wore long, one-piece robes that still revealed loafers. Even those who wore traditional American suits and dresses punctuated their outfits with a dash of color or a piece of audacious jewelry.
In order to inspire her own double-takes, Ramdeen made her own dress, which she flaunted with emphasized swinging of her hips. She proudly declared it was made from Dutch wax that made it reversible and traditional.
In describing the event, Ramdeen said it was all about coming together. The message of solidarity was particularly meaningful as the bride and groom are an interracial couple.
“We are one now. We’re doing what Obama said,” she said. “We’re one people when you think about it ... and we love in the same language.”
This was echoed by Arnelle Ullrich of Albany, who added that it was important to celebrate life, while also looking good and feeling good about yourself. For Ullrich, this meant a change of pace with her footwear for the occasion. “I am a flats girl, but I pulled the stilettos out today,” she said while pulling up her dress to reveal the extra inches of heel.
Part of the ceremony required a small group of ladies to sacrifice their unique style, as they all wore the same dresses in order for the groom to differentiate between his wife and her imposters. Eventually the bride danced her way to the center of the ballroom, where she met her soon-to-be husband. This rhythmic process drew the crowd of more than 200 people from their seats and led them to crowd the center dance floor.
After celebratory dancing, as the result of the groom discovering “his real flower,” the event became very serious, with the father of the bride asking his daughter if she was sure about her decision. Shortly after Edwina confirmed her desire, there was more dancing, then James was officially welcomed into the family by his new father-in-law.
“I’ve given you one of my best,” Edwin Kaliku told James, who was kneeling with his bride. “You are now accepted.”
With their status as the “latest couple in town,” James and Edwina McCormick changed into white outfits to represent their new unity, although their headware differentiated them starkly. James wore a dull pink cap and Edwina displayed a large, complicated and shiny pink headdress that seemed to glow whenever she smiled.