“I want to look back 20 years from now and celebrate… Not because of corona virus but because I decided to spend the rest of my life with Reme.”
Ayokunle Sulaiman and his fiancée Reme Olotun were counting down to their wedding ceremony at the Sheraton hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, on 18 April.
But as the pandemic intensified it became obvious that Reme, who lives and works in Canada, would not be able to come back home to Nigeria to marry Ayokunle.
“It was very devastating for me,” she tells the BBC. “I had already bought my dress, my shoes, everything was ready and in place.”
But for his part, the thought of postponing the wedding was not something Ayokunle would entertain. So he thought of a creative way to go ahead.
Finally, the couple decided to have a religious ceremony on 18 April led by a pastor via the video platform Zoom.
“It moved from feeling sad and gloomy to feeling hopeful, positive and upset and optimistic about the situation,” says Reme.
“You seem to have that magic wand to always warm hearts,” she remembers telling her husband that day.
In Nigeria there is no legal provision for online marriage. The country’s Marriage Act states that couple have no two options – a statutory wedding in a registry office, or a religious ceremony in a licensed place of worship. But because of ongoing lock down restrictions on gatherings, legal practitioner Abisola Ogunbadejo says people planning weddings have been asking her abut the validity of online ceremonies.
For their part, Ayokunle and Reme plan to go ahead with a statutory wedding when Reme can travel to Nigeria, but for the time being the couple feel proud of their decision. And even though they are not married in the eyes of the law, the online ceremony has led them to define their relationship differently.