The historic wedding of Theresa and Patrick Dangawali
Texas, USA – As guests eagerly waited for the bride and groom to make their grand entrance in the ballroom of the Cyprus Hotel in Arlington on 24th September 2011, the bride, Theresa, first proudly marched straight to the hallway feeling high distinction with a mixed emotion of excitement and profound gratitude. It was a happy-ever-after moment for both. Theresa and Patrick who saw hundreds of guests waiting for them to take the oath of marriage in the church. (Mr & Mrs Dangawali cutting the wedding cake)
Some people compared Theresa and Patrick Dangawali’s marriage to Prince William’s marriage to Catherine Middleton in the British Royal wedding. It was fascinatingly a Manor River Union (MRU), rooted in the cultural heritage of Sierra Leone and Liberia. The music was richly orchestrated by the Disco Jokers, lead by Mohamed Bio who played stirringly compositions by the musical stars of Sierra Leone and some American hip-hop just to entertain the attendees in the reception hall.
The bride was in a full white dress like that which adorned the cover of the recent British Royal marriage, making Theresa to be the bride of the year in Texas. Surrounded by the Sierra Stars soccer players in their green and white jerseys, the bride entered the reception hall with sounds of applause echoing “Presso! Presso! Presso.” The team coach, Mohamed Jalloh said, “it was just to honor our president’s new wedded wife.” It was indeed the wedding of the year, many people say.
The wedding ceremony began at 3pm at the First Life Baptist Church in Plano Texas. The service was conducted by Rev Seth Williams. The bride and groom were surrounded by their friends and loved ones and shafts of gorgeous natural light shone through the large windows. The groom, Mr. Patrick Dangawali, entered the Church hall first in his white suit and the bride Theresa Tarpeh Bome who was wearing a beautiful Vera Wang embroidered wedding dress with a long train, entered the church main hall on the arm of her son, Philemon Bome. The couple purchased their wedding costumes from the JLO line in Italy. They proudly did so because they wanted a more European style tailored suit, while the groomsmen found their formal wear at Tip Top Tailors fashioned in the United States. The bridesmaids each wore a soft purple Vera Wang gown.
The service started with a prayer by Rev Sett Williams, who gave a prophetic lecture on the concept of marriage and did a 10-pointer as to why marriage works. The pastor said that all women must be submissive to their husbands and that God should be first in all that you do.
Patrick Dangawali looked great even though he had lost over 20 pounds because of the wedding preparations! Both of them were beaming throughout the whole ceremony. According to the traditions, the question was asked as to, “who is giving away the bride?” Mr. Philemon Bomeh stood up and answered yes, I do!
The first reading was done by Mr. Yera Teleh Keita from Genesis 2:18-25 and the second reading by Mrs. Felicia Swen Mathew 7: 24 – 29. Wedding rings and vows were exchanged with the pronouncement “you are now Husband and Wife.” A spike and lingering kiss was ordered by Rev Sett Williams as cheers and jubilation from friends and family members inside the church was evidence of positive emotions. Yes! The diamond, as the ladies put it, ‘is a rock and is sparkling precious on a princess.”
Mr. and Mrs. Dangawali were greeted with shouts of jubilation from the crowds as the wedding procession left the church for photographs with the group of photographers. Many took photos with the lovely newlyweds as they posed with family and friends.
The reception took place at the Blue Cyprus Hotel in Arlington, where a big marquee was set up in the hall which was an amazing sight. The tables were mixed arrangements in shape; some round, some square to seat the 800+ guests. The bride and bridegroom were in a very long dais. For the décor, the flowers were a mixture of arrangement, some high, some low, with a variety of candles. The color palette was a soft lilac and white. Guests were seated at each table, with a personalized printed name of towns in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and, of course, everyone was split up so nicely with their couples.
The music was amazing, as DJs were in the house with a full swing of African and various standard music pieces composed by different cultures. They could play anything and did, really leading the crowd through the entire festive night.
The first dance was in honor of Patrick and Theresa, a pretty sexy tango tempo which showed how much in love they are. Patrick was full of excitement. As they danced, they did a Hora, and both Patrick and Theresa were joined by other family and friends some in ‘Ashobi’ style around the room, hilarious!
At about 9 pm, guests mingled with family and friends in the Great Hall of the Blue Cyprus Hotel to sip cocktails and other refreshments from the open bar and watched the bride and groom cut their fabulous, pristine white wedding cake. The wedding cake was extraordinary and familiar, a ritual symbol that everyone in the western area can see as culinary art, good to be admired. It was preceded by a cool love song.
A dinner of good African and other continental dishes like salad, risotto, and a choice of Arctic Char, Angus Steak or Vegetarian, plus desert and cake was served. There were gluten free breads and the huge wedding cake was gluten free as well. The dining went on until 1a.m. or so.
The occasion was full of speeches and toasts. It was a great night as two masters of ceremony (MCs) stirred the wedding party. The MC, Mrs. Oreta Manneh made the welcoming address. by saying, ‘everyone in this room has touched the lives of Patrick and Theresa either in the past or present, and they hope that it will be part of their lives going forward too”. She thanked everyone for all that they have done for them both. She proceeded with the introduction of the bride and bridegroom, and they danced their way into the great hall with a special song. They were immediately followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen and then the grandparents, Ms Florence Campbell and Mr. Donald Nat–George made the final entrance.
Another Master of Ceremony, Mr. David Kessebeh, took over from Mrs. Oreta Manneh, and conducted the speeches in a short and coherent order. The best man and a dear friend of the groom, Mr. Arnold Robinson, President of the Old Edwardian Association, Washington DC, made a nice and remarkable speech. Miss Florence Campbell, Matron of Honor gave a really heartfelt speech, while Mr. Yera Teleh Keita gave a more historic speech about the bride and the origin of the name Dangawali. Mr. Keita congratulated Patrick on behalf of the people from the north of Sierra Leone in the Koinadugu District thanking him for all his support. Various other speakers, including President of Krio Descendant Union, Mr. Patrick Jackson and Dr. Alie Patrick Koroma congratulated the couple for their wonderful day.
A plaque presentation was handed to the bridegroom by Coach Mohamed Jalloh on behalf of the Sierra Stars Soccer Club of Dallas, and all the soccer players were on stage to congratulate the couple. Mr. Sentu Johnson, one of Sierra Leone’s finest footballers also made a fitting speech about the groom and how he had been his role model and followed in his footsteps as an Edwardian. He introduced Mr Eddie Akpan who presented the bridegroom with a plaque from the Old Edwardian Association national chapter in North America. The Oldest Edwardian on the night, Mr. E. T. Kamara, led the singing of the school song by all Edwardians present.
Mr. Abu Dylan Kabia, who had travelled all the way from the United Kingdom, also gave a short and brief speech on behalf of all the veteran soccer players, both at home and abroad, for Patrick’s hard work in helping and supporting the game of soccer in Sierra Leone and abroad and presented a token of appreciation.
The high point of the night was the speech by Mr. Patrick Dangawali where he described the time he went to ask for Theresa’s hand in marriage. It was funny and surreal. He said that having a beautiful woman like Theresa is a symbolic power and might of his social life. He added that Theresa embodied the finest qualities of both her parents; therefore, he thanked them for raising such a special person (Theresa had tears at this point). Patrick also said that as people have been there for them, he wanted to make it clear that he and Theresa will always be there for everyone else – through good times and bad. It was very touching and meant a lot to everyone in the room who knows them well. The groom‘s speech was great (off the cuff), and he radiated when he spoke of his love for Theresa, and again for everyone in the room. He ended by saying that he wanted to accomplish their dreams together.
The bride and the groom shared their first official dance with a touch of African classic and the rest is a blur – of trying to meet everyone and squeeze in some fun on the dance floor.
At the end of the night every one danced to beautiful songs by the DJs and the dancing continued until the wee hours. The DJ wrapped up at about 4:30 a.m.
Many people, including the press had it all wrong; it was not a Hollywood event, but more of a family and friends event. So the only stars were everyone who attended and partied till day break.
Thanks to those people who did make the long journey from out of state. It was really great fun. Mr. Sentu Johnson headed the group from New York, who included Larry Kofi, Eddie Akpan, Lionel Williams Abdul Aziz Mansaray, Abdul Newland, Amudae Ahmed and all the other people from the state of Atlanta, Georgia. Arnold Robinson headed the group from Washington, Abu Dyfan Kabia from London, and many from different parts of the globe. Thanks to you all.
By Sanpha Sesay and Yera Teleh Keita
Photographs: Les Rickford and Sanpha Sesay
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