Being a typical American guy, I wasn't sure what to expect when I was hired to film Natasha and Ayo's big wedding weekend. Natasha is American and Ayo is Nigerian. Both of them are medical professionals. Their wedding was definitely unique, as most of the wedding guests would be flying in from all over the country (and a few from around the world) for a two day celebration.
The party began on Friday evening at the Julian Smith Casino near downtown Augusta, GA. The hall was decorated for a traditional Nigerian ceremony. Before that, however, the bridal party had their makeup done and donned traditional geles, or head wraps. There's a specific method to putting on a wrap, and it's not at all easy. Luckily they had the help of a local professional whose hands must have been very tired by the end of the day.
The photographer and I had very little idea of what we were in for. Even the couple seemed a little uninformed, seeing as Ayo himself had only been to a couple of Nigerian ceremonies. This, I believe, is what sets the pros apart from the amateurs. I was flying solo Friday night and I had to keep on my toes and think quickly during the nearly three hour ceremony. Luckily I had just purchased what I affectionately call my "Gandalf Stick", which is a monopod (a single legged tripod) with a Pilotfly H2 gimbal on top. This handy device allows me to keep the camera steady and level even as I walk around with it, similar to how a Steadicam works for movie production. Combine that with the small but capable Sony a6300 and you've got a winning combination for events where you never know what to expect.
One thing became clear very quickly- Nigerian people love to dance. The families danced their way to the front of the room in a slow procession guided by the beat of a single drummer and the chants of the event's hostesses. Eventually the groom and his groomsmen were brought in, then the bride and her crew danced in. The union was blessed by both families, gifts were exchanged, and everybody enjoyed a terrific Nigerian buffet.
Saturday was closer to what I'm used to- a traditional American church wedding followed by a lovely reception at the Julian Smith Casino. The venue looked totally different for Saturday night with beautiful decorations by Michelle and her crew at Lavishly Posh. I'd never seen the JSC look so good! The emcee was hilariously entertaining. Once again the families and wedding party danced in. I had a second-shooter for Saturday, Pierre Luke, who always does a great job. Overcome by the spirit of all that dancing, Natasha's dad broke loose after their father/daughter dance into one of the most outrageous moments I've ever seen at a wedding. As the emcee put it, "Daddy Lowe got low!"
Overall the weekend was great. I walked away with over 600 gigabytes of footage and the monumental task of editing ahead of me. I really enjoyed experiencing a taste of the Nigerian culture, and I would gladly do another if given the opportunity. Natasha and Ayo are a a beautiful couple and I wish them nothing but the best!