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Hitched at 40 – meet Bride: Janet Nzilani, 44 Groom: Benney Meshullam, 42

Bride: Janet Nzilani, 44 Groom: Benney Meshullam, 42 Date: August 28, 2016 Venue: Mavuno Mashariki Church, The Point Mall, Buruburu Photography: Levi Gachanja Cake: Kate Bakers Food: Rosebert Caterers

 MARCELLA AKINYI

How did you meet?

Benney: I was involved in a road accident on August 30, 2015, that left me with a fractured pelvis and right arm, requiring two months hospitalisation. To keep myself busy, I spent a lot of time on the Internet, particularly on Facebook.

There was this lady who would like almost all my posts, which I didn’t realise until later when she confessed to me. She explained that this was because she was impressed by my comical and positive attitude despite the accident ordeal. However, she didn’t harbour any romantic feelings, as she thought I was married because I used to post selfies with some lady friends who came to visit me in hospital.

One Saturday, some months after being discharged from hospital, I decided to chat with Janet (a Sunday school pastor) on Facebook and she invited me to their church’s new branch in Buruburu the following day. Janet later told me my response to her invitation left her amused. Just a few months before, frustrated with mindless dating, she prayed that the next man who would claim her heart would engage her on the first date.

In the course of our chat, I playfully said I needed to sleep early to prove that I could make a reliable husband. She then asked if that was a proposal, to which I replied in the affirmative (playfully as usual), not knowing I was talking to my future wife.

But, I didn’t make it to Janet’s church the next day because I misunderstood the directions and got lost, so I had to go back to my place in Donholm. Janet thought I was not serious, but after I explained what had happened, we decide to meet.

How long did you date?

We didn’t want to waste each other’s time, because we both knew what we wanted. So, we laid everything on the table and declared to go forth by faith. In March 2016, we got engaged and courted for six months.

How was the proposal?

In 2006, a multi-million deal that I was working on fell through, stripping me of all my financial resources, and prompting even my girlfriend to walk out on me. Bitter, I swore off romantic relationships.

Later, I realised how extreme my situation was when one day my little niece innocently asked me where my wife and children were. The spell finally was broken! I started praying for ‘a wife of noble character’ as in Proverbs 31:10.

Ironically, in January 2016, I had bought an engagement ring for my ‘future wife’ (ridiculous faith ama?). Since I did not have money to take Janet to a romantic place to propose, I decided to invite her to my mother’s house where I proposed. Everybody was in shock, including Janet. She didn’t think it would happen so soon. (Ukipata chukua haraka!)

How was the process of planning your wedding?

Because we didn’t have the money and our budget was Sh300,000, we consider it a miracle. When my wife said we were going to cater for 400 people, that was faith to me! We planned the wedding with the help of our friends and family through God’s grace.

Tell us about the theme of your wedding:

Our theme was bringing the 70s to the 21st century, with a little African touch. We rocked bell-bottoms, afro wigs and block shoes, and the bride wore an African gown. The music was all 70s and a bit of twist for the old folk. We also had butterflies as part of the décor, to signify new life.

How did you choose your bridal party?

That was not difficult. We had a simple wedding with a bridal party of five; the best couple, our daughter (my wife was a single mum with a 20 year old daughter), granddaughter and nephew.

Did your wedding turn out the way you wanted it to?

Absolutely! We hosted 400 people and we danced and sang; we enjoyed our wedding, it was lovely. Our wedding was on a Sunday afternoon (3pm to 7pm), and it was short and sweet.

Any surprises and disappointments?

No disappointments to report, the joy of the Lord was bubbling over. As for surprises, we fed 400 plus people with nyama choma, ugali, chips, and refreshments. The food was in plenty it remained. The cake was a showstopper; 400 cupcakes were in good supply.

Advice to those looking for love?

You need to know what you need and not what you want. If she or he has above 80 per cent of what you need, then go for it. That saying of “we need to know each other” is a lie. Don’t waste each other’s time. Pray for God to give you wisdom to choose the right spouse.

We would also recommend Lamead Couples by Cynthia Wambui Otieno and Don Otieno before settling down. They are our mentors, who made us who we are today. They offer relationship coaching that covers a wide range of topics, and has enriched our marriage.

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