As a renowned wedding planner in the ever bustling Lagos Metropolis, I’m constantly on the move to meet endless deadlines so I can once again put a smile on the face of yet another satisfied customer.
In the business world you get to cross paths with different personalities and if you hang in there long enough, you get a fairly good assessment of your customer after just a few minutes. I knew one thing about Miss Banjo A.K.A Soon-to-be Mrs K.K.G. Olaolu-Cole the minute she walked in. She was very precise.
I run a whole range of wedding planning services and try to accommodate a range of budgets, from the very modest to the profusely flamboyant. As a faithful tither and giver, I am a testimony of God honoring His Word to pay back a hundred fold. Business had been non-stop since the beginning of the year and I had actually just pulled off a major event and was looking forward to a holiday in France. When Bisola Banjo walked in, I knew I was in for another biggie.
From her chauffeur driven car to the aide who carried her bags and accessories, she was obviously one who was used to giving instructions….a lot.
As she walked in, she tossed her head to the side letting her sleek weave-on swirl about her shoulders and took off her sunglasses. From my glass-screened office I watched her make her inquires. My receptionist and attendants are all top-notch professionals and it has only being with their indispensable help that as a team we’ve managed to expand exponentially, standing out as one of the exceptional few.
She had my entire staff on their toes putting their creativity and initiative to the test. She wanted everything to be perfect and clearly she was willing to pay whatever it cost. After what seemed like an eternity, she picked out a truly exquisite wedding dress by an America-based Italian designer and with a childish grin she said excitedly “I’m sure going to feel like a princess in this dress!” I assured her it would be perfect. I gave her the details of how soon I would receive the dress once I placed an order and she wired the money immediately to my account on her Blackberry.
I meticulously got to work on this project. And as you can imagine it was all the works! The colors had to be perfect and after poring over several catalogues and palettes, we settled for a rich blend of vivid coral, shimmering gold, rich burgundy and coffee. It was a lavish and spectacular mix, definitely sophisticated.
I was in a swirl contacting my finest florists, decorators, caterers and printers. All hands were on deck to make this a wedding people won’t forget in a hurry. Bisola was so particular, the details couldn’t have been clearer. From the elaborate dishes on the three course cuisine and the specific fonts on the invitations to the flower arrangement for her bouquet and the splendid décor of the aisle….we had it all planned out perfectly.
I was so caught up in all buzz that I almost forgot…..well ….ok…ok….I did forget it was my five year old son’s birthday the day Bisola was to come in to fit her dress. A couple of days before, my husband called to ask what I had planned for our son’s birthday. I couldn’t believe I had lost track off the other important events in my life. We agreed on a small living room party and I assured him that I would get a cake designed like ‘Barney’ the character in the children’s program my son had grown so fond of and a tasty lunch of barbecued chicken, fried and jollof rice, ice cream, chocolates and biscuits, fruit juice, spring rolls and samosa.
I knew it was really tight given a day’s notice but imagine my dismay when ‘Barney’ who I specified was a purplish wine color turned out to be an annoying GREEN!!! He looked like Godzilla not Barney!!! I mean I had brought my son’s stuffed Barney along and left it with the baker for him to get this right. I was so upset!
“Oh Madam…” The baker pleaded. “I am so sorry. You know the notice was short. I really tried to meet your deadline but could not get the color and I’m so sorry. How can I make it up to you?”
Annoyed and frustrated, I grabbed the stuffed toy and shoved it close to his face.
“Do these two look alike?” I barked, looking from the toy to the cake and back again and shaking the toy angrily.
“This was supposed to be a treat for him, now you’ve ruined it! Why do you think I brought this here?” I asked holding up the toy angrily. “So you won’t make this type of mistake!” I snapped pointing at the cake.
He offered to decorate another cake but I had just 2 hours before the guests arrived and I was only going to stay a hour before rushing off to fit Bisola’s dress, so that wasn’t an option. After ensuring he understood how upset I was and how unpardonable his offence was, I reluctantly picked up the cake and drove off. I fumed all the way home thinking of how amidst my very tight schedule, I would take note of the details and won’t muddle them up like that.
My excited Timilehin didn’t even recognize his discolored ‘Barney’ and was just so thrilled to be blowing out candles and showing off his presents. The cake itself was simply scrumptious and mouth-watering and with my mum’s help the lunch was truly delicious. My husband, a natural host, got the party in full swing with music, games and jokes and I excused myself at an opportune time truly wishing I could stay longer seeing everyone was having so much fun, even the adults.
Bisola came into the office with two of her friends not long after I walked in and they couldn’t wait to see the dress. Proudly, I unzipped the gown bag and brought out the beautiful dress. One look at Bisola’s face told me something was wrong…..very wrong.
She took one step towards the dress, tilted her head sideways and back and my very worst fears came alive.
“That’s not the dress I picked out. Oh my goodness! This is so not happening! What on earth happened?” she exclaimed throwing her hands up and sitting down with a plop on the couch in disappointment, holding her hand across her forehead.
She couldn’t believe what I didn’t want to believe.
“Are you sure?” I said confidently. Absolutely sure I wasn’t wrong. “I placed the order myself to be sure.” I reassured her. “Let me run a check.”
I cross checked the gown code on her receipt with the code I had ordered and almost passed out. I couldn’t believe it. I had ordered style 1698 instead of 1648. I was speechless.
My fashion consultant Nicole was doing a poor job of pacifying Bisola’s enraged friends who kept playing ‘spot-the-difference’; pointing out how different the two dresses were.
“It’s even the wrong size! A size 14 not an 8! Can you believe that? These people are so crappy!” Friend One pointed out with disgust written all over her face.
“What is she supposed to do with this?” asked Friend Two eyeing Nicole angrily.
Nicole started to explain but was hushed by a hostile “Save it!” from Friend Two and a wave of the hand. This was not good.
“You can’t even adjust this.” Friend One said holding it up like a rag.
“No adjusting!” Friend Two snapped. “It’ll ruin everything because I’m sure these clowns can’t do it decently anyway.”
“This is totally, absolutely, completely, so unacceptable!” Friend One muttered angrily shaking her head and pacing up and down the changing room.
Nicole looked at me helplessly for a solution.
I slowly approached Bisola who was sitting quietly on the couch strangely quiet. I apologized and asked her if I could reorder the dress with an express service at no cost to her and have it delivered in 5 days since the wedding was still 10 days away.
“Alternatively, if you look around I’m sure we can find something in the shop you’d really like. Some truly lovely gowns came in with my last consignment.” I suggested.
“How about a full refund?” Friend One asked sarcastically, hands on her hips.
After what seemed like an hour, Bisola cleared her throat and looked at me. She looked at me and smiled. I sighed inwardly. That certainly was better than a snort. As calmly as she could she took my hand in hers.
“Five days…F…I…V…E…FIVE? Are you sure?” She asked holding up five fingers.
I was upset with myself, angry at the situation, irritated by Bisola’s friends, sorry to have put Nicole through all this embarrassment and overwhelmed by Bisola’s patience.
“Five days, Tuesday.” I reassured, not believing I was getting an opportunity to redeem my image.
Her friends objected angrily but Bisola firmly insisted. She also insisted on covering the bill for the express delivery.
“Absolutely not! I’m covering the express cost from my personal account.” I maintained. “We promise to make it up to you. I so sincerely apologise.”
Bisola’s friends exchanged mocking glances and she glared at them disapprovingly.
“I’ll be calling you everyday till Tuesday and I really, really hope you’d keep your word.” She looked from me to Nicole and back. “I really do like everything you’ve done so far by the way.” She smiled getting up…getting up…..get up….wake up….wake up…….
“Wake up, ma.” It was Nicole. “She loves her dress! She’s so excited she doesn’t want to take it off!” I woke up with a start and remembered where I was. I’d come in from Timilehin’s party tired and had apparently dozed off at my desk while waiting for Nicole to help Bisola try on her dress. There had been no mistake and the dress and size were perfect. There were no Friends One and Two
“It’s gorgeous and I look and feel like a dazzling bride! I love it! Thank you, thank you and thank you!” She exclaimed, hopping about excitedly like a little girl.
“Wow! He sure is going to fall for you all over again!” Bisola’s sister who accompanied her said, pulling her glasses down her nose and admiring the gorgeous gown. Indeed she looked fantastic and once again I was happy to have made another bride feel special.
Reality was good. Sober and reflective, I thanked God for once again showing me that it was only by His grace that I had become so successful. Some dream. A reminder of how often we love to be forgiven but do not forgive, how often we hope for mercy but seek vengeance.
I’d gained some perspective.
“Excuse me ladies….got to hurry…Nicole will take care of the rest and we’d see you on Thursday for the last details.” Bisola nodded a very gleeful yes.
I picked my bag with a parting smile to my clients and reached for my car keys. It was time for a drive to see Mr James, the baker. I had decided I owed him an apology.