- Shalonda Trent met her husband on Facebook. They finally met each other and got married a week later.
- She said that her relatives begged her not to go to a foreign country and marry a man she has never met in life.
- This is Trent’s story, as told to Jane Ridley.
This quoted essay is based on an interview with Shalonda Trent. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My younger brother called me when I was about to order a coffee and a bagel from Dunkin Donuts before flying to the Middle East.
He has been calling me since I bought the plane ticket. This time, he asked me to leave the airport and wait for my father.
“Now he will get in the car and pick you up,” my brother said.
I’ve already checked four bags – I have to pay over $300 in baggage fees – and my brother is just ruining my mood. We were arguing for a while and then I hung up. No one will stop me from going to Dubai, not my family, friends, or even my pastor.
We planned our wedding in our WhatsApp conversation
There was no marriage. I chose my future husband – whom I only met on Facebook and WhatsApp – myself. It doesn’t matter that we don’t see each other in life. He proposed in April 2021, one month after we started direct messaging. We were in love.
We decided to meet in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on November 25, 2021, because it is about halfway between the United States and Kazakhstan, where Precious lives. We planned to spend three days in Dubai, then get married in Nigeria, where he grew up.
Most of the programs are done through WhatsApp. We chose our ring and hotel for our honeymoon. I sent the measurements of my clothes to his mother-in-law Chika to hand over to the tailor. I wanted my clothes to be traditional in Nigeria.
Our story started in spring 2018. Precious randomly sent me a friend request on Facebook. He said he likes the scriptures and encouragement I put on my food. We talked a little about what it means to be a Christian, but that’s it. It is not love. We moved on with our lives and lost touch.
But three years later, he sent me a direct message regardless. I wondered if I would ever find the right person to live with. This time, Precious told me how he felt from the beginning. He said he loved me since the day we became friends on Facebook.
We had a video chat because it was important for us to know he wasn’t a scammer
He said he knows I am the right woman for him. But I don’t agree to marry someone just because you want to get married. I wanted to get to know each other.
He told me to download WhatsApp. We talked about our jobs – he taught English in Kazakhstan, and I wrote two books – and what we wanted in life. He was funny and honest. He stood on his feet. He has all the qualities I look for in a husband.
We had a video interview two weeks later. It’s important to me to make sure it’s real. There are many scams out there. But he is who he says he is. It was beautiful. He felt safe and talked to him. He understood me very well.
Precious was introduced during a video interview in April 2021. I said yes straight away. He sent me $2,000 in cash to buy a diamond engagement ring. I received the money from Western Union. I sent him a picture of the ring on my finger and a certificate of authenticity.
My family said Precious only wanted to marry me because he wanted a US visa
We spent the next six months planning our wedding in Nigeria, where Precious grew up. There are many things to prepare because it is customary in his tribe – the Igbo tribe – to marry in two ceremonies.
They couldn’t believe that we were planning to get married without meeting each other. They said Precious must be a fraud.
My six brothers and sisters told me that he only wanted to marry me to get an American visa. My pastor told me that he watched a movie of a woman who married someone she met online. “It didn’t end well,” he said.
They tried their best to change my decision. But I won’t listen. I put the phone down for my brother when I was about to board my flight because I was late.
I took a direct flight to Qatar from Philadelphia. Then I got a connecting flight to Dubai and arrived on November 25, 2021. The flight was delayed. I’m tired. I put my luggage in the car and entered the arrivals hall in Dubai. I looked back and thought, “Where is this man?”
Then I saw that he was waiting for me. If I am in doubt, they are gone. We were interested in each – but we knew that all together. We hugged. But we didn’t kiss, not even on the cheek. We decided to wait until our wedding day.
We spent three days in Dubai, then traveled to Nigeria. Precious’ family in the south of the country was very happy to see us. I tried on two of my wedding dresses – a red dress made of silk and a traditional white dress. They fit perfectly.
We had two weddings – one after the other – on December 9, 2021. Just once, in a brief moment, I thought, “Oh my God, are you really doing this?” and, “If this is a mistake, you have to live with it.” But I have faith. I know that Precious is a decent, loving person.
Our first wedding day is coming up – and my family is coming around to the idea of our wedding. They told me that they are happy for us. We live in Kazakhstan where Precious still works the same way. Our beautiful daughter, Amiyah Elise, was born in September.
I haven’t had time to sit back and enjoy what I’ve done. But I understood it well enough to know that it was something I had to do. I was very dangerous. You have to take risks in life to get where you want to be.
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