So you finally landed that plum 2 million per annum job, just got yourself a nice flat somewhere in Ikeja, and a Honda Accord with a good mechanic… and Bae is giving you all the hints. “Oh wouldn’t I look gorgeous in this white wedding dress?” and your mother is dropping all the magic phrases “Eyah did you see Bolu’s kids photos on Facebook? Bolu’s Parents must be sooo proud!” Bolu is your childhood friend who used to live down the road. Yeah, the pressures of getting married in Nigeria is that crazy. Many consider your life worthless until you tie the knots and start popping out little minions.
And to add insult to injury, the economic situation in the country isn’t helping. If you thought the pressure to get married was huge, the actual cost of “putting a ring on it” is way more enormous.
There was an argument in my office recently on whether it was possible to have a simple wedding in Nigeria today that was below a Million Naira. And sadly, many of the girls thought that it was possible. I argued a bit but after breaking it down for them they began to see my point. This is the hard truth. You can’t have a ‘Classy’ (emphasis on ‘classy’) wedding with all the whistles and bells for anything below a mil. Even two mil is cutting it close. I know it sounds harsh but it’s not my fault. It’s not your fault either. It’s just the way it is. Don’t take my word for it. Let me break it down.
I don’t care what blog post you may have read or whatever dreams you may have had about your wedding day but my friendly advice is for you to kindly wake up.
“So, we have One million naira and we can’t get a decent wedding?!!!”
This is a question I face a lot as an event planner and my answer is always a straight up NO. Or better still i tell them to rewind to 10 years ago and then hold their wedding then. If you wanted a cheap wedding, then go back to the 70’s. I find that brutal honesty is the best strategy with Naija brides. Better to lose the client early than to take the job and then allow the client to kill me with crazy demands. Life is too short and I didn’t kill anyone when I wanted to get married.
I usually have a simple basic breakdown of requirements at these meetings. A checklist of sorts. And with each item on the checklist, there is a price. So you want a chocolate fountain for every four tables? Check. Cost. You want a band and a DJ? Check. Cost. You want to invite 1000 guests? Check. Cost. I did a similar check list for my friends in the office and here’s what I came up with.
S/N ITEM AMOUNT
1 Wedding hall at Surulere for 200 guest 300,000
2 Catering@ 1,400 per plate for 200 350,000
3 Drinks 150,000
4 Décor… 150,000
5 Video and picture coverage 60,000
We were already above one million naira and we still hadn’t given a cost to these:
Thank you cards
Just so they didn’t take my word for it, I called on a close associate, Kayode Olusanya aka Mistee Kay, who is a professional event planner. Here’s what he say:
The ultimate truth is it’s not all about the wedding but the marriage. It’s not worth it starting your lives together with your loved one with a huge wedding debt. My advice? Just go to the court, get a marriage certificate, go home and start making babies. But just so you don’t read this and think i’m a bad person I went the extra mile to advice on specific things you can do to reduce the cost of your wedding day. Can I get a thank you?
Plan a week day wedding:
Saturdays are not the only days available for weddings!! Friday Is a lovely day to tie the knots and a more convenient way to kick off your honeymoon. So fix your wedding reception on a Friday by 4pm, this takes care of unwanted quest and ensure your wanted guest can still make it after close of work. What you end up with is a private romantic evening dinner reception.
You also get to save up on food, most people eat light in the evenings so that means less amounts of servings per guest. The money saved up on main menu can be put into more drinks, cocktails and finger foods to give your reception an even more exquisite feel.
Plan an outdoor wedding:
Open fields are cheaper than wedding halls so you can save at least a 150,000 naira by planning an outdoor wedding
With an outdoor reception couples can get very creative with their dance floor, menu, cocktails and décor. The sky is your limit with an outdoor wedding as long as you stock up on lots of drinks and finger food to keep your guest refreshed.
3. Plan a destination wedding:
Destination weddings do not always have to be in Dubai or south Africa or Paris either, Lagos is filled with lots of five star hotels that offer amazing wedding packages that take off the entire stress of planning, catering and décor that comes with weddings. With as little as 10,500 per guest Sheraton hotels for example offers an amazing wedding package for a minimum no of 100 guest, available on their website.
Many restaurants around offer similar packages at even reduced prices yet ensuring that well planned out stress-free reception.
Planning low budget wedding has been quite an eye-opening experience and I realized one salient fact, many don’t count the cost of the wedding, they just take the leap of faith and hope that family and friends would chip in to make their day memorable after all marriage is a huge leap of faith.