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Katie Yust Noyes | Photo: Philip Thomas Photography | December 28, 2012
Two engineers and native Nigerians celebrate meeting and marrying in Houston—eight years after their first encounter.
Naanzem Hoomkwap and Chidi Egbuna’s wedding was seven years, two ceremonies and three dresses in the making.
It began during a college internship for Devon Energy, when they discovered they were both from Nigeria and became fast friends. Egbuna noticed Hoomkwap’s vivacious personality, bright smile and bubbly laugh. She was instantly intrigued by his cool, observant nature. But even with that instant spark, a shared love of basketball and other common interests, it took a year for the couple to become official. Even then, the two engineers dated long-distance for three years before she left a job in Arizona and returned to Houston. After seven years together, Egbuna got down on one knee and asked Hoomkwap to be his wife. She was happy to oblige.
First they paid tribute to their backgrounds in July with a traditional ceremony in Nigeria. Upon returning to the States, the couple began looking for the right planner to help them prepare for an American wedding with a full mass at Downtown’s Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart—one that would have a romantic, yet contemporary feel.Like the bride knew she met her future husband upon first meeting Egbuna, she knew she met her planner when she sat down with Natalie Dawley of Two Be Wed. “She shared our vision from the beginning, and I just trusted her,” Hoomkwap says. For Dawley, coordinating the culturally inspired event was “a once-in-a-lifetime planning opportunity,” she says. “The Nigerian culture is rich in so many ways, from the vibrant attire and headdress to the radiant smiles and rhythmic dancing.”
The couple chose the Petroleum Club for their reception and a color scheme of violet, mustard, pewter and ivory, paying tribute to the bride’s favorite basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Although Egbuna is a Houston Rockets devotee, the “Big Boss” (as his bride affectionately calls him) liked the bold palette. They complemented it with graphic details like chevron accents on the invitations and the cake.
Keisha’s Kreations wowed with masses of vibrant roses, billy buttons, dahlias, calla lilies, orchids, lavender and peonies, offset by candles in mercury glass. As a nod to the couple’s shared career path, table numbers were binary notations.
Guests enjoyed a three-course meal of filet mignon, signature Purple Passion martinis, two DJs and all-night dancing—accompanied by the Nigerian custom of “spraying” the newlyweds with money as they boogie. Hoomkwap also delighted the crowd with wardrobe changes, trading her ivory ceremony gown by Kenneth Pool for a traditional Nigerian dress, and later, a red cocktail number for a chic getaway.
Hoomkwap says her goal was to celebrate their love with a great party, and she knew she succeeded when her uncle asked if they would get married again just so he could celebrate once more. “I picked the best vendors and that let me enjoy every moment of the truly perfect night.”
But of all the moments, including the surprise Rolls-Royce ride Egbuna arranged, he says watching his bride walk down the aisle was the ultimate. That, and “seeing the amazing work of Naanzem, Natalie and Keisha.”
The couple honeymooned in the Bahamas before settling into their Richmond home. Well worth the wait.