In a vibrant celebration blending love, culture, and sports, Los Angeles Sparks star Chinenye “Chiney” Ogwumike and heavyweight boxer Ethasor “Raphael” Akpejiori, tied the knot in an unforgettable multiday event. The grand celebration, which began on Nov. 15, was not just a union of two hearts but also a rich display of Nigerian heritage, attended by over 900 guests.
Ogwumike, a first-generation Nigerian-American, and Akpejiori, hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, chose the Igbo Catholic Community Center in Houston for their traditional Nigerian ceremony. The event was a “royal celebration of Nigerian culture, family, and community,” Ogwumike described via People Magazine.
The ceremonial rituals, deeply rooted in Ogwumike's Igbo culture, unfolded in three distinct stages. It began with the groom's introduction and the bride's welcome, followed by the enchanting “Wine Carry” stage, where Ogwumike, amidst a crowd, sought out Akpejiori. Upon finding him, she offered him palm wine, symbolizing their union, and then they received blessings from her parents. The event culminated in the couple's marriage and formal introduction as a married couple, marking Ogwumike's transition into an Edo bride, embracing her husband's culture.
Ogwumike's bridal attire was a spectacle, featuring 10 different looks. She first appeared in a blue outfit by Anulika Ugwu, signifying her maiden status, followed by a white beaded Igbo attire by Sapphire Lily, symbolizing her readiness for marriage. Post-marriage, she donned a traditional Edo red strapless gown adorned with coral beads, also by Anulika Ugwu.
The celebration also included a buffet of traditional Nigerian delicacies. The festivities extended beyond the wedding ceremonies, with the couple and their guests attending a Burna Boy concert, a nod to their first date and anniversary celebrations.
The party continued with a “white wedding” ceremony on Nov. 18, attended by 700 guests. Ogwumike collaborated with Nigerian designer Nneka Alexander of Brides by Nona for her custom wedding gown. The look was a traditional Nigerian dress featuring a 10-foot detachable train. She later changed into a black party dress with hip cutouts and ombré beading.
The reception was a star-studded affair, with guests like WNBA star Lisa Leslie and politician Sheila Jackson Lee in attendance. The dinner menu was a fusion of southern and Nigerian cuisines.
Due to their demanding work schedules, the couple has decided to enjoy “mini-moons” throughout 2024, planning extended weekend trips to destinations like Bora Bora and Aruba. The WNBA season will begin in May 2024.