It was a day of unlimited joy for eminent businessman, frontline politician and former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, as his gorgeous daughter, Catherine Ogbonneya Kalu, tied the nuptial knots with her one and only heartthrob, Lawrence Ehineya Iyere, in a classy wedding ceremony that was staged in Lagos, with Nigeria’s high and mighty in attendance.
The duo’s love story began with a chance encounter at the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom where Catherine who’s fondly called Neya by friends and family was studying for a Master’s Degree in Human Resources.
Lawrence, who is a native of Irrua in Edo State was also at the same university in a quest for a Master’s Degree in Investment and Finance. Little did he know that by the end of his programme, his academic pursuit would have led him down “love lane” and he would be making a different kind of investment other than financial-an emotional one in a new found obsession-Neya!
It was at first a friendship that began with casual phone conversations and occasional dates, which then blossomed into a strong romantic bond and now, a lifetime partnership. It didn’t take long for the lovebirds to realise that they were a perfect fit for marriage.
Once the couple’s families became involved and official introductions had been made, a date was set for what would be one of the weddings of the year.
Over the years, the Catholic Church of the Assumption at Ikoyi, Lagos, has played host to many a classy weddings and it was here that Catherine and Lawrence exchanged their conjugal vows. Though the ceremony was billed to commence at noon, guests were already arriving at the church venue as early as 10.30am to pick choice seats in the auditorium.
Soon the road leading to the church was lined with posh automobiles as guests began to troop in to the church to witness the memorable occasion. When finally the couple arrived, the anticipation that had been building reached its crescendo with gasps of admiration filling the atmosphere as the service proper commenced.
Of course, the bride was the cynosure of all eyes as she took breaths away in a flowing figure-hugging peach dress made to measure by Andrea Iyamah Bridal Home. Lawrence too was quite the groom, stealing some swoons from the ladies in a 3-piece white and black suit.
The sweethearts were supported by beautiful bridesmaids comprising Zina Uzor Kalu, Rukayah Dantata, Patience Iyere, Modupe Ola, Yanate Banigo, Olamidun Majekodunmi and were led by the maid of honour, Khadijah Kebbeh. The groomsmen who donned matching black and white suits included Abbey Lawal (Bestman), Amadi Odenigbo, Bode Edun, BK Olagbeji, Sumbo Wifunke, Abba Ujoh and Justice Eromosele.
The wedding was officiated by the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Abia State, Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji who disclosed to the congregation that Neya personally pleaded with him the year before to officiate at her wedding.
Bishop Ugorji said that God was the author of love and that the couple’s meeting was by divine orchestration. He thus encouraged the lovebirds to strengthen the good thing that God had begun in their lives.
The minister reminded the couple that though marriages are solemnised with the engagement and wedding rings, they are actually perfected through endless sacrifices by both parties.
“It is love that brought the two of you together. This love mirrors the love of God in your lives. You must be ready to tolerate each other and to forgive at all times. Fidelity is important in keeping the home from crisis.
“Be a good teacher to your children because the society is built on these children. If you fail to train them in the way of the Lord, the society will suffer the consequences.
“Married life is a career that requires the patience of a teacher to tutor his pupil and the humour of an artiste to keep the home alive,” the priest further counselled.
The couple was declared man and wife following their exchange of vows and were led to sign the dotted lines. Afterwards, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Achibishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abuja who supervised the mass, prayed for the couple’s fruitfulness in marriage, urging them to ensure their union brings honour to themselves, their loved ones and the society.
The wedding train then moved to the luxurious Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, where a grand reception held to celebrate the latest couple in town. The father of the bride spared no cost to hire the best hands in event planning to cater for the large number of guests that graced the special occasion. The grand ball room of the Oriental Hotel transformed into a haven of visual delight by Coker Events an there was also an endless supply of exquisite cuisines, drinks and fine wines throughout the event.
Vintage Band was on hand to entertain guests with a continuous stream of good music. Popular comperes, Gbenga Adeyinka the first, Basketmouth, and MC Bishop coordinated proceedings.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was the Chairman of the occasion, while Sir Daniel Chukwudozie Akudo, the chairman of Dozzy Group, was the Vice Chairman of the day. In his remarks, Senator Saraki advised the newlyweds not to entertain interferences from third parties in their home and to ensure that they do their families proud. Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who is currently the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and his wife, Amaka, were the sponsors of the wedding.
One of the major highlights of the wedding reception were the special cameos by mega music stars, Tuface Idibia and Flavour, who took turns to titillate the couple with their hit songs and to entertain the crowd.
Other dignitaries who came to felicitate with the couple and their families included Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, Chairman of All Progressives Party (APC), John Oyegun, national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, former Governor of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki, former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, former Diamond Bank boss, Alex Otti, Uche Ogah, Kola Oyeyemi, and the Founder of Christ Embassy Church, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome who took the opening prayer at the reception.
Others were Chief Tony Onyima, Aare Rasak Okoya, Prince Samuel Adedoyin, The Otunba Adekunle Ojora and his wife, the Erelu Ojuolape Ojora, Aare Gani Adams, Uncle Sam Amuka Pemu, Senator Francis Alimikhena (Senate Deputy Chief Whip) and Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda (Senate Minority Chief Whip)