A Nigerian-Inspired Wedding at an Estate in Reva, Virginia
Little did Bisola—a real estate attorney from Laurel, Maryland—know, she was speaking with her future husband the day she received a call from IT consultant Tomiwa. It also just so happened to be her birthday. Bisola's mother had passed along her daughter's number to Tomiwa through a family friend and was insistent on making the match. Taken aback by the "forced gesture," Bisola asked that he not call again. Tomiwa, caught entirely off guard, was speechless—so Bisola filled the silence by inquiring how he knew it was her birthday. Tomiwa admitted it was a coincidence that, after months of having her number, he was compelled to call on that day. Before hanging up, Tomiwa offered to pray for Bisola in honor of her birthday—a token that softened her demeanor and ignited a friendship.
From that point on, the two sporadically chatted on the telephone. Tomiwa was in a relationship at the time and would often seek advice from Bisola; they would also pray together. After Tomiwa's girlfriend ended their relationship, he began courting Bisola, who turned him down for a second time. It wasn't until Tomiwa's ex-girlfriend wanted to get back together that Bisola realized her true feelings for him. "I decided to pray about whether he was my life partner and a peace came over me that I couldn't explain," Bisola said.
Tomiwa proposed to Bisola on Valentine's Day, surrounded by friends and family during Bisola's aunt's birthday party. During the party, guests were hand-selected to play a game, which entailed being blindfolded and spun around before attempting to making a heart-shaped circle in as few steps as possible. "When I made the heart and took off the blindfold, Tomiwa was on his knees surrounded by our family and friends. It was so romantic," Bisola explained. "But, instead of crying I just started laughing because I realized how silly I must have looked trying to win a game I was meant to already win."
The two were married on September 1, 2018, at Walden Hall in Reva, Virginia, after a year of dating. Bisola's vision of organic elegance effortlessly celebrated the couple's Nigerian backgrounds. The romantic ambiance was further embellished by deep reds, a rustic backdrop, and sophisticated florals—making the night everything the two could have ever dreamed of.
A Poetic Estate
Located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Walden Hall provided the estate setting both Bisola and Tomiwa had always imagined. "I love the look and feel of estate weddings. It's so Downton Abbey. So, that was my inspiration when I was looking for a venue," Bisola explained. Perched upon 10 acres of peaceful farmland, the picturesque bed and breakfast pays tribute to great 19th century poets throughout—an authentic detail that particularly spoke to Bisola, who was a literature major in college.
Vintage-Inspired Market Ring
While traveling to meet Tomiwa's parents for the first time, Bisola came across a vintage-inspired, flower-shaped ring at the local gold jewelry market in Ilorin, Nigeria. Not only was it a third of the price of the rings she had browsed in the States, but she also discovered an antique gold ring box at the Dubai airport on her layover home, further signifying the ring was meant to be hers.
Nigerian Designer Influences
Bisola sported two looks on her wedding day, both by Nigerian designer Tubo. The first was a romantic, long-sleeved lace ball gown with a toffee-colored underlay. Bisola collaborated with the designer in Nigeria—in the end, her wedding dress was a joint effort that melded the bride's vision with Tubo's expert craftsmanship. Bisola's bridesmaids' cap-sleeved, A-line gowns were red, which represents love, passion, strength, and health in Nigerian culture.
Bisola purchased her nude, crystal-embellished Badgley Mischka pumps from Nordstrom Rack months before her dress was designed. The heels seamlessly complemented her pearl-detailed clutch and the toffee underlay of her wedding dress.
Make My Day Artistry handled Bisola's chic updo; a tiara from Etsy shop Bridal Jewelry Store and Lulu Splendor earrings completed her look. The statement accessories didn't take away from the bride's flawless makeup, however. Makeup artist Rashida Banks' choice of a red lip was impressively on-theme.
Cascading Fall Florals
Bisola's vision of fall-inspired florals tied together her overarching theme of organic elegance. Her cascading bouquet, created by BCG Events, was a mix of garden roses, berries, hydrangeas, ferns, amaranth, and dahlias that further complemented the details in her gown, accessories, and iconic red lip.
The Suit-Up Struggle
While everything seemed to effortlessly fall into place for Bisola and her bridesmaids, the men in the wedding party couldn't say the same. "The struggle was real trying to find matching suits for the groomsmen that everyone liked. They were so high-maintenance," Bisola explained. "They ended up ordering suits from Italy by Antonio Manzone." The groom finished off his gray plaid suit with a red velvet bow tie and Gucci shoes.
BCG Events carried their vision for Bisola's bouquet through to Tomiwa's boutonniere, which featured a bloomed pink rose on a single green leaf surrounded by a sprig of cranberries, a gold-toned dried fern, a smaller white rose, and white astilbe.
An Unexpected First Look
During their first look, Tomiwa remembers being surprised by Bisola's choice in a ball gown—her go-to dress style is usually fit-and-flare. The moment the two locked eyes, Tomiwa's ear-to-ear smile brought Bisola immediate relief; she knew she looked as stunning as she felt.
It was vastly important to both the bride and the groom that they incorporate Christianity into their ceremony, which took place in front of a scenic pond on the property. "I truly believe [Tomiwa] was Heaven sent. Even though we weren't inside a church, I still wanted to create an altar by commissioning a carpenter to build a custom wooden cross to represent Christ as the center of our marriage," explained Bisola. It was only right that Bisola's pastor from her childhood church officiated the wedding, as he was there for most of her life milestones.
Bisola's favorite moment of the day was walking down the aisle, surrounded by nature and the people she loves. Ahead of the service, rain clouds edged close overhead—but they stopped in their tracks as soon as the bride began to descend from the estate. "My mom said she was praying that the clouds would move until after the ceremony. I believe her prayers were answered. Once we were inside for the reception it started heavily pouring," Bisola recalled. She was escorted by her father to the song "Jesus We Love You" by Isabel Davis.
As the couple exited their ceremony to the tune of "I Found Love" by BeBe Winans, family and friends gathered by the pool house for cocktail hour. A light drizzle didn't stop them from celebrating under canopies before proceeding to the reception. During this time, the couple gathered in the property's garden to take their portraits.
Homage to Heritage
For the black-tie event, the groom's aunt and uncle donned traditional Nigeran dressings known as "agbada" and "iro and buba." The detailed ensembles were intricately decorated with stunning cut-outs.
BCG Events crafted displays of floating candles inside and on top of a brass-rimmed rectangular structure, which allowed greenery and pink and red florals to cascade down onto each table.
Candlelit Table for Two
For the couple's sweetheart table, BCG Events took the same design elements from the guests' tablescapes and exaggerated them with double the florals and floating candles, as well as a grass backdrop. (Bisola knew that her big day was in great hands—she interned for the event company years ago.)
DJ Mulukuku played "All of Me" by John Legend for the newlyweds' unforgettable first dance.
Decadent Dessert Display
One of Bisola's favorite elements of the day was her vanilla wedding cake (a gift from her aunt), which was decorated with a floral watercolor design. The confection was suspended on a hammock display.
Nigerian Night Looks
Both the bride and groom stepped away from their reception to change into outfits that honored their Nigerian roots. Bisola donned Tubo's second creation: a red-laced, mermaid-style gown with an off-the-shoulder neckline. Tomiwa sported a matching black and red "agbada."
During the reception, guests initiated a money dance more commonly referred to as a "spraying." The tradition involves guests tossing money on the celebrants to show their love, while offering stable financial beginnings and continuous prosperity.
Photography, Elizabeth Austin Photography
Location, Walden Hall
Event planning, TUM Socials
Catering, Victory's Kitchen
Flowers, BCG Events
Stationery, Freshmint Paperie
Music, DJ Mulukuku
Bride's gown, Tubo
Hair, Make My Day Artistry
Bridesmaids' dresses, Tulle & Chantilly
Flower Girl dresses, JJ's House
Groom's suit, (From an unnamed boutique in Chicago.)
Menswear, Antonio Manzone