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Family celebrates 20th anniversary with the wedding they never had

Monday, June 15, 2009 | 6:14 p.m. CDT; updated 6:26 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 16, 2009
When Marianne's father, Michel Mumyantarama, came to Columbia from Africa on a limited visa, the Bihomoras decided to have the wedding ceremony they had always hoped for. "I thank God that I can do this while my daddy's here," said Marianne. Stani mentioned that at the first ceremony, twenty years ago, Michel was also present. It is unsure if Michel will be able to stay in the United States after his visa expires. The Bihomoras and friends from Christian Fellowship Church are currently working on Michel's situation so that he can remain in the United States with his daughter's family.

CORRECTION: Craig Colbert was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.

COLUMBIA — Marianne Bihomora dreamed of being married in a church ever since she and her husband, Stanislas, who is known as Stani, were wed in a small civil ceremony two decades ago.

Since then, lack of money, turmoil in her homeland of Rwanda, life in a Kenyan refugee camp, resettlement in the United States and raising their six kids put the dream on hold.

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But when Marianne's 70-year-old father, Michel Mumyantarama, came to Columbia from Rwanda in August after the death of her mother and her 20th wedding anniversary approached, it finally seemed like the right time.

"I thank God that I can do this while my daddy's here," Marianne said.

The wedding on Saturday was an event that crossed cultures. Before the ceremony at Christian Fellowship Church, Stani's family members fried plantains and cassava in the kitchen while a team from International Friends Center iced and decorated several multitiered cakes.

The ceremony began with an African chorus while Mumyantarama escorted his daughter down the aisle. Shirley and Craig* Colbert of International Friends Church stood in for Stani's parents, while members from Christian Fellowship, clad in traditional African skirt and wrap, stood as Marianne's bridesmaids. Many had helped raise funds to bring Marianne's father to the United States.

"I thank everybody who helped and everybody who came to the wedding," Stani said. "By ourself, we can do nothing."


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