Kemi And Dolapo Shabi: #AFreeUnion Winners
Words By – Funso Coker
On the 5th of February, just nine days to Valentine’s Day, Union Bank announced plans to bankroll #AFreeUnion, encompassing an all-expenses-paid dream wedding for one lucky couple, and a breathtaking proposal for another couple. The entire concept was organised in partnership with Africa’s top wedding blog – BellaNaija Weddings.
The task was simple: the winning couple had to submit a strong entry expressing their love for each other and stating why they deserved the all-expenses-paid wedding. In addition, they also had to be ready to tie the knot on Valentine’s Day!
Out of almost 190 entries received in total, Dolapo Shabi and Kemi Amusan emerged winners of the free wedding, while Chibuzor Obiora got to propose to his sweetheart, Notey Akpotive, at the exclusive luxury beach house, Sencillo!
With four days to go, Dolapo and Kemi were informed that they had been selected to receive #AFreeUnion, and then the race began to give them the wedding of their dream, working with top wedding planners and vendors.
In this exclusive chat, the lucky newlyweds talk about the power of dreaming and how they received the freedom to live their dreams, thanks to Union Bank and BellaNaija Weddings.
Congratulations to you both on winning #AFreeUnion, courtesy Union Bank and BellaNaija Weddings! Would you please introduce yourselves?
Kemi: Thank you very much. It all still feels like a dream – but certainly a very nice one!! Up until the 14th of February, I was Miss Kemi Amusan; I’m now Mrs. Kemi Shabi! I am a 28-year-old graduate of Accounting from Yaba College of Technology. I now work as a model and hairstylist.
Dolapo: I am Dolapo Shabi; Kemi’s husband. I am a graduate of History and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos, but these days I earn a living as a fashion designer and fashion entrepreneur.
We’d love to hear your love story. Tell us how you met and was it love at first sight? How long have you been dating?
Kemi: It all started on my birthday in August 2018. Dolapo sent me a DM on Instagram, wishing me a happy birthday and asking me to connect with him. I checked out his page, was impressed by what I saw, and then I accepted his invitation to connect. The next day, he sent me a message asking for my phone number, and for the first time, I did not hesitate to give out my number on Instagram. Oddly enough, he didn’t call me until months later; in October to be precise. But when he did, he made sure we met the same day, and I’d say the journey began from there!
Dolapo: I loved what I saw when we met for the first time. Her beauty struck me and I remember my first thoughts were “Wow! She should be in Milan or Paris modelling!” (another dream coming to life soon).
Kemi: On the very first day, we had a long conversation about our careers and aspirations. It wasn’t anything about love the first day; he just seemed very mature and was very sweet, which made us click immediately. We also realised we had a lot of things in common. He, being a fashion designer and a fashion entrepreneur, and me being a model and a hairstylist made things interesting for us.
The same month was Lagos Fashion Week and I invited him to the show as I was one of the models that walked the runway. And that was where he asked me to be his girlfriend. Of course, I had been waiting for that question because I had been getting fond of him since the first time we met.
Dolapo: Although she played hard to get for like a month, we eventually became lovers and on the 1st of January 2020, I proposed and asked her to spend forever with me. It was a “YES” of course. A yes to forever with the love of my life.
What was your idea of a dream wedding?
Kemi: We had always wanted an intimate but classy wedding. We’ve never been keen on having a large crowd. We just wanted to say our vows and move to the reception for the party. That pretty much summed up our idea of a dream wedding.
But I had big dreams about the venue for the ceremony and the ambience I hoped to have, though. I had fallen in love with Monarch Events Centre since the first time I saw it along the Lekki-Epe Expressway. I had also seen lovely pictures of weddings held at the Monarch – they all looked so dreamy.
Also, as a vendor in the wedding industry, I’ve been a big fan of TrendyBee Event Planners for years. I’d secretly wished she could plan my wedding, even though I didn’t see how that could happen. Then Bimpe Onakoya is my dream makeup artist, she has worked on me as a model several times and I’d always wished she could make me up for my big day.
I had all these tall dreams, but they didn’t quite connect to the reality. They were just dreams, which is why this has been an experience of a lifetime! I got everything I had always wished for, everything! All thanks to Union Bank and Bella Naija Weddings for giving us our dream wedding for free!
Dolapo: I’ve always wanted her to have the wedding of her dreams because I knew how much our wedding would mean to her. I’m glad she got everything she wanted with ease. I will be forever grateful to Union Bank for making our dreams come true!
What motivated you to put in your entry for #AFreeUnion and did you think you stood a chance of winning?
Kemi: I saw the post on Union Bank’s Instagram page and on BellaNaija Weddings page too. I just knew anything that comes from these two brands would be worth the while.
I told Dolapo about the opportunity to get #AFreeUnion but his response was “No, that’s ridiculous, how is it even possible to plan a wedding in just four days?” I tried to convince him for three whole days, but he didn’t budge, until a day before the entries were to close. I told him that we stood a chance to get a ‘yes’ only if we applied, and that if we didn’t apply, it was a 100% ‘no’. That was when he agreed to make the entry video with me.
All the while, I had been following updates on #AFreeUnion on Instagram and was generally being positive about it. In fact, while I was still trying to convince him, Dolapo had asked what I wanted for Valentine’s and I’d said “Oh! Do you mean our wedding day?” He just shook his head at me. He just didn’t see this happening!
There’s a common saying that ‘Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity’; would you say you were prepared for this opportunity? Did you have wedding plans in the pipeline already?
Kemi: Yes, we were the lucky ones, but we were ready for this because we were engaged already and we’d had our family introduction ceremony in December, so the next thing in line for us was a wedding; even though we didn’t know how to go about it at all, especially in these tough times.
Dolapo: Each time we tried discussing the wedding topic, it just always seemed impossible. We just didn’t know where to begin! But here we are today, we got the wedding of our dreams without paying a dime. Thanks to Union Bank and Bella Naija Weddings, we got the freedom to live our dreams.
How did your family and friends react when they heard you’d won this once-in-a lifetime opportunity? And how did they react to hearing your wedding was happening in 3 days?
Kemi: My parents did not believe me when I called them over the phone to share the news with them. My Dad kept saying, “Kemi, you mean your wedding is in three days?!” And then he’d ask in utter disbelief – “You mean we are not paying for anything?!” They were so excited! It was a little easier with Dolapo’s parents because we went to their house to share the news with them in person. Their shouts of joy and their prayers are still so fresh in our minds.
On a scale of 1 – 10, how did #AFreeUnion experience align with the picture you had in mind for your dream wedding? What was running through your minds that day?
Kemi: I would rate this entire experience as an 11/10 if that is possible, because we got everything we wanted and even more.
What did you take out from this entire experience?
Dolapo: Your dreams are valid; don’t be scared to dream because anything is truly possible if you believe.
So, what’s next for you both as you build your union? What other big plans are you dreaming into existence?
Kemi: We are looking forward to having a happy and fulfilled marriage, living our lives to the fullest, and achieving all we want in our careers and from life in general. We will be working more on our brands; I am taking my hair brand to the next stage and looking out for collaborations that can take me to the next level.
Dolapo: I also have plans to expand my fashion business, to set up a factory and showroom and increase my ability to do more. I am also open to collaborations that will support my dreams.
If there’s one lesson we have learnt from this entire experience, it’s to never stop believing! Just two weeks ago, I was convinced I wanted to marry Kemi the love of my life, but I had no idea how. And today look at us!
Congratulations once again!! We wish you every happiness as you begin your life together.