Mallory: Journey to Africa

Mallory: Journey to Africa

Mother of: Marcus
Location: Dakar, Senegal
Vibe: Glamorous
Dress: Alfred Sung from Nordstrom (see a similar style)

Traditional African wedding outfits were waiting for Mallory and her family when they arrived in Dakar for the January, 2024 wedding of her son Marcus to his Pomona College sweetheart Mamy. The bride’s mother, Birima Mbaye, happens to be a fashion designer under the label Rima Designs. “She offered to outfit our entire family of seven with traditional wedding attire for the religious ceremony!” Mallory says. “The men were in long tunics with pants; the women in long dresses and ‘mossours,’ the traditional voluminous head wraps.” They sent measurements last fall and the mother of the bride did their final fittings in Senegal, just days before the wedding.

Mothers of the bride and groom in African dress

Of course, that was just one component of the elaborate two-day wedding, which included a religious ceremony, a traditional Muslim ceremony that culminated with the traditional Tassou, where singers and drummers perform songs celebrating the lineage of the two families with the bridal couple at the center.

“Even though the religious ceremony was largely in Wolof, which I don’t understand, at one point, I looked across the crowded room and saw the bride’s sister shed a tear,” Mallory recalls. “It reminded me of the vast and deep love that surrounds this couple. As a parent, it’s really all you could want.”

Bride and groom in Senegal

But this wedding weekend wasn’t over quite yet. Then there was a western-style reception, for which Mallory needed a Black Tie-worthy dress of her own. “I learned that the vibe at Senegal weddings is most definitely glam,” she says.

Unlike the months of planning that went into her African ensemble, Mallory was a bit more down-to-the-wire about mother of the groom dress shopping in the U.S.

“I’m never one to plan too far ahead,” she confessed. And so she dashed over to Nordstrom on Black Friday to shop with her mother and sister when they were all together for Thanksgiving. The hot pink, silk shantung one shoulder dress by Alfred Sung was probably the third dress she tried on.

“For me, it stood out among the other safer—more matronly—navy and royal blue options,” Mallory says. She loved the vibrant pink and the three dimensional flower on the shoulder. “I felt it was flattering to my figure and passed the ‘glam’ check.”

Only one problem: Nordstrom had the dress in just one size: a 20. Mallory wears a 12.

mother and father of the groom in Dakar
Without hesitation, she bought the dress and took it directly to a tailor. The result was a dress that looked like it had been custom made for her. It practically was! Mallory still smiles thinking about the champagne toast she had at the store with her mom and sister to celebrate finding a dress…while Googling “tailors near me.”

groom with mother in Dakar, Senegal

| Photography by Cadence Prod

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