Elo showed up to Lauren's farewell family barbecue as a plus-one but walked off with her heart. Their evening wedding was more beautiful than words and fierce, fierce, fierce!
The Look in Your Eyes
"Every so often, I catch myself staring into Lauren’s eyes, and I am reminded of our first meeting seven years ago, where I was so captivated by them that I took every opportunity to glance in her direction," Elo said of his bride. "Even after five years (at the time) and countless ups and downs, we were still growing stronger as friends, parents to be, and as kindred spirits. Our love is special because although we are imperfect beings, we strive to become better partners and soul mates each day. Knowing that I had never had that kind of love and never wanted that kind of love with anyone else ever again is why there is no one else in this world for me and why I chose her as my wife. We know that as long we work to improve our relationship, our connections may waiver at times but it will never break."
"I loved my pre wedding portraits with my bridesmaids," said Lauren. "I was running late and everyone but me had makeup complete. So I was the only one that was not dolled up. What I love about this moment is that my friends were originally not friends with each other. Although through all of the planning and constant interaction they had with each other, they developed a bond and are still connected even after the wedding."
"My mom helping me get dressed was a great moment," said the bride. "Besides my husband, she truly is my best friend, and I loved sharing those last few moments of preparation with her as she provided her wisdom and last words of advice."
Elo and Lauren's son Greysen was a big part of their day. Lauren said that seeing Elo prepare their son for their wedding day is a testament to how awesome of a fathe Elo is. Because of the relationship Elo and Greysen have, Lauren loves him even more.
For his look as groom, Elo didn't want to have a traditional tuxedo but wanted to honor the couple's traditional theme. Instead, he opted for a custom gray suit with black labels and details to be a moden man on his big day.
"As an only girl I have always been the extreme daddy’s girl," said Lauren. "So the first time he saw me in my dress was an overwhelming moment for him and we both cried as we were officially ready to let go as began the next chapter in my life as Lauren Johnson-Oji."
"I love that Elo is caring, a provider, and a family man," said Lauren of her husband. "He has always put me first and now does the same for our family and I just love how he makes sure that we are taken care of in addition to his mother. A man that ensures his mother is taken care of is a good man. And I am reminded by Elo’s caring nature daily as I build our life together with him by my side."
"I love the happiness in my face as Elo is kissing my cheek," said the bride. "It reminds me of our first date when he really wanted to kiss me but was too nervous to make an attempt. So he kissed me on my cheek."
"I have always loved Princess Diana’s wedding and her many flower girls that were in it," Lauren added about her decision to have 4 flower girls. "So I always knew that I wanted multiple flower girls and I wanted all of us to feel like Princesses for a day."
"My official bridesmaid’s picture," said Lauren. "Each time I see this picture I have no words. It is simply flawless. Their ivory dresses next to my blush dress was simply breathtaking. My girls have been amazing friends for 15 plus years, and through all the wedding madness they came on this journey with me with little to no complaints. They’re my ride or die chicks."
"My daddy walked me down the aisle," said Lauren. "There was no other option. My daddy has taught me so much through his love for my mom and me that it allowed me to set a standard for the type of man that I would marry. I’m the only girl of four children and my dad and I are extremely close, so it was only right that he walk me down the aisle on my final day as Lauren Johnson."
"Looking into her eyes for the first time at the altar was honestly the most memorable part of the ceremony for me," said Elo. "Her eyes intrigued me the moment I met her, throughout the course of our seven years together, and finally as she was becoming my wife. Looking into her eyes I felt like the same guy I was staring at her during our first meeting and she was the same girl who caught me."
"Our vows were my favorite part of the ceremony and I remember feeling incredibly loved as Elo was reading them," said the bride. "He brought up the many struggles we faced during our years together such as losing jobs, battling sickness, being rejected from graduate schools, and how through our love for each other we overcame each obstacle. It was a reminder of our history and how we have literally loved each other through not only every setback but every victory."
Elo popped the question at he and Lauren's baby shower. "Elo told me he had a gift for me," recalls Lauren. "He presented me with a big pink box." In front of 100 woman, Elo got on one knee and removed the ring from his pocket and formally asked would her spend the rest of her life with him.
One of Lauren's favorite wedding photos was the one of she and Elo walking down the aisle shortly after being announced as husband and wife. "This picture displays our true happiness for the day," she said.
"I love her confidence and her huge heart," said Elo of Lauren. "Her love and kindness balances her confidence and prevents her from being cocky, as she would give her last to a person in need because she is confident that she will be blessed in the end."
"He brings the perfect amount of balance to my life, where as if I am weak he is my rock, if I am in a dark place he is my ray of light," said Lauren. "That balance is what completes me and makes me whole. And I knew that our connection was so deeply rooted that I would never find it again. Elo is the man God made for me."
Lauren wasn't a fan of having a traditional wedding cake. Instead, she and Elo cut a tier to share and the guests dined on a fabulous dessert bar which featured decadent desserts such as cheesecake, chocolate mousse, keylime pie, strawberry shortcake, carrot cake and ice cream shooters.
"My wife represents love," said Elo. "She has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met and is everyone in her life’s support system. She is a focused and motivated woman who everyday makes me want to be better. There is no greater gift than waking up every morning to your soulmate."
"This was such a special moment for me because in the seven years we had been together; neither Elo nor I have worn traditional attire," said Lauren of the moment she and Elo celebrated his Nigerian heritage. "It was a moment for us to full embrace his culture together and introduce my family and friends to it."
During the reception, Elo and Lauren incorporated traditional Nigerian culture into their wedding. It was the one time of the night where the bride felt both sides of the family connected and surrounded the couple with love and support. Lines were removed and everyone felt like one happy family!
True Love and Devotion
"Our connection was almost instantaneous and throughout our history the connection has never gone away."
"I love that all of my single friends believe in the idea of love and the traditions surrounding catching the bouquet," said Lauren. "They were all so pumped up and ready to go to blows to catch the bouquet."