Ada Ojeh-Teme of Cherish August, the bespoke destination event company based in Miami, Florida, designed an inimitable event fit only for a queen. And that queen of course was her mother, Mrs. Olusola Adebimpe Ojeh. She was turning 70, but for this vivacious woman, seventy is only the beginning.
For Ada, planning her mother’s 70th birthday celebration meant pulling together all the lessons she learned from her mom while growing up. Attorney by day and international event designer by night, Ada learned the art of juggling from her mother. She also inherited her mother’s love of flowers and all things celebration. Early on in her law career, Ada started dabbling in flowers. She was soon addicted to the hobby and turned it into a side business. But she quickly noticed that her flower clients needed more than just flowers for their events—and from that, Cherish August was born. While her business has designed events all around the globe, Mrs. Ojeh’s event was extra special to her because it was personal.
Ada ensured that every decision started from a place of intention—and that every design decision started with colors. Olusola finds purple to be a very grounding color, so Ada used the color as the base of the event. It doesn’t hurt that purple is associated with royalty since Olusola is nothing short of a monarch. Next came fuchsia. Not only does this color embody Olusola’s vibrancy, but it’s her favorite color to wear. And lastly, Ada settled on blue. It’s her father’s favorite color, and she knew that her mom would love to honor him on her birthday as well.
For the flowers, Ada used Zoom Bloomz, a Miami-based florist, to forage something unique to capture her mom’s spirit. She remembered her mom saying that she loved flowers but wished they would never die. This sparked her idea to use wildflowers such as baby’s breath, goldenrods, and asters. They have a longer shelf life than roses and peonies. That, along with their quirky lines, represented her mom’s unique personality and her indominable grit. They used spray paint to match the event’s color scheme, and the result is a whimsical composition that evokes a sense of childhood wonder, which captures another theme that Ada kept in mind—nostalgia.
She used this theme to help guide her event choices, starting with a one-of-a-kind focal point, her mom’s old Volkswagen bug. Olusola laughed and cried when she saw the car, stunned that her daughter even remembered her stories about her old VW. Her friends from high school immediately recognized it as the car that made “so much noise.” The car, like the rest of the venue, was covered in wildflowers that would stick around for a while—much to Olusola’s delight.
Ada watched as guests crowded around the mirror that held the seating chart. They reminded her of the little girls they once were crowding around a piece of paper in the school hall that held the results of their test scores. If that wasn’t enough nostalgia, the women started singing their high school fight song. Later, one of her mom’s childhood friends told Ada, “You made 70-year-olds feel like teenagers again.” And this was the best compliment Ada could have hoped for.
To start off the night, family and friends gathered around for some hymns and a message to celebrate Olusola’s life and her faith. It was followed by a mocktail hour outside, where there were three themed drinks, all having some reference or joke about Olusola. The first was “Bug of my Mojito” to celebrate her car. Next was “Ijebu-Ode Mule” to celebrate her place of birth. And the last was a PTL Pina Colada because her favorite phrase is “PTL!” aka “Praise the Lord!”
Olusola began the night wearing a deep purple traditional Yoruba Iro and Buba. After the cocktail hour, she changed outfits because as she says, “I look too good in fuchsia to pass up a chance to wear it.” The change of clothes was also a way of honoring the tribe her husband originated from. Olusola is from the Yoruba tribe, and her husband is from the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. Once she changed into George, which is Igbo attire, she added a strip of blue, her husband’s favorite color. Since women become part of their husband’s tribe after marriage in Nigeria, this change of clothes represented that the day wasn’t just about her—it was about the life that she and her husband had built together.
The night went on with games, dancing, a Nigerian meal, and a taco cart. Competitive uncles and aunts created fits of laughter, and table-talk included memories from the good old days. But the most meaningful moment of the whole night came when Olusola’s oldest grandchild took the stage for a speech. He spoke of the example she set and how each grandchild felt so loved by her that they felt like an only child. The tribute was so precious that audience member didn’t even think to pull out their phones to capture it. They were fully enraptured in the moment. Seventy years already behind her, Olusola has lived a fruitful and beautiful life, but she looks forward to the years ahead knowing that her legacy is already being sewn in the tapestry of her faithful friends and loving family.
Ada’s 5 Tips for a Meaningful Event
- Define your objective. What’s the goal for this event? What are you trying to achieve?
- Identify your circle. Once you know what you want to achieve, think of who can help you achieve it?
- Define your place. Where? Or maybe it’s not a physical location but a place in time or a memory.
- Define your concept. What inspires you? What do you dream of when you think about what you want to achieve? What do you hear? What do you see? What do you want your circle to experience? What do you want them to remember? What story do you want to tell the next generation about the event?
- Hire an event planner. Building your team is crucial to your experience. The right designer/planner not only tells the story but also wows you and your guests along the way, as well as for as long as the event is in your memory.
By Carrie Clay
Photography by Halle Alessia
Event designer and planner: Cherish August
Photography: Halle Alessia Photography
Floral Design: Zoom Bloomz
Parchments: June Paper Studio
Coordination: Miami Dream Events
Cake: Desserts By May
Aso-oke: Mastic Aso-oke
DJ: DJ Diversty
MC: Jay Wura Music
Violinist: Carlos Florat Violin
Calligraphy: Dainty Hands Co
Catering: Nigerian Food Miami
Gele: Teniola MUA/Gele Stylist
Makeup Artist: The Sultry Way
Rentals: Cubanacan Party Rentals
Balloon Artist: A Touch of Ms P
Rentals: El Camion De Las Plantas
Bar: Malau Luxury Events