In 2018, Leah Anyanwu and Rodney Carew matched on Tinder – in Nairobi, Kenya – and bonded over their shared Midwestern and West African roots.
Anyanwu grew up in Mequon and her father is from Nigeria. Carew was raised in Chicago and Kenya by Sierra Leonean parents.
“We were long-distance for about a year and a half,” recalls Anyanwu – she in Nairobi and he in Zambia. In March of 2020, sensing borders would be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple moved into a Nairobi apartment. “That was a nice test to see if we were compatible,” says Anyanwu. Carew agrees that “helped us decide that we wanted to commit for life,” he says.
Their long-distance relationship consisted of traveling, sharing new experiences, making memories, and falling in love. During a trip to Leah’s favorite resort in 2021, Rodney had the resort present Leah with trivia prompts at each meal, and her reward for answering them all correctly was a homemade scrapbook of mementos he’d been saving from their travels together, along with a sunset proposal.
Their weekend-long wedding represented their respective African cultures and Leah’s Midwestern roots; the welcome bags at the rehearsal included cheese curds and other Wisconsin classics, Igbo dancers performed during the traditional African ceremony and the DJs incorporated music from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Kenya. After a fireworks show, Leah found the guests wearing Mardi Gras masks and beads, waving customized handkerchiefs to welcome a New Orleans-themed second line band, a romantic gesture from Rodney to honor Leah’s favorite American city. “Nothing makes me happier than bringing her joy,” he says.
“I wore three dresses on Saturday and three on Sunday. Most of the attire for Saturday was made in either Nigeria or Kenya,” says Anyanwu. For Sunday’s ceremony, she chose a traditional white Maggie Sottero wedding dress from Amelishan Bridal in Hubertus.
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“One thing that was helpful for us was to have a clear objective: Why are we having our wedding? We landed on ‘celebrate and honor our parents’ and ‘a huge focus on tradition,’” says Anyanwu.
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Photo credit: Getty