Monday, November 12, 2012

Beyond the Cost of Planning a Wedding

Posted in: , , ,

The cost of planning a wedding in Nigeria is another search #1 which lands on the post about my big fat Nigerian wedding. Nigerian weddings are not unique in being expensive, the 2012 average cost for a wedding in the United States is around $27k (around N4million). One can even say the Nigerian wedding is more cost-effective because there's usually two or three events involved - traditional, court and church wedding.

In my previous post linked above, fellow blogger Doll, who got married in Nigeria in February 2012 says she spent about 4.5M. and my guess is that's probably the cost of an average middle-class wedding in Nigeria these days.

Now not everyone may be able to afford that and it is usually best to remember to cut your coat according to the cloth you have, and not to your size or wants. In this case, it means taking into consideration your savings and your income and trying to keep the wedding expenses within your means.

The first step is to consult both families and then agree with your fiance on the size of the wedding. It is ideal if you are able to make a definitive list of exactly the number of people you want and you can list them by name, but this is difficult to pull off for most Nigerian weddings.

What is more likely is that you will have a range of people to expect, sometimes up to double or triple the invitation cards you give out. Some get over this by being very strict on who they allow into the event, to the point of hiring bouncers. I think this is too extreme, but hey, if it works!

The best way to do this is to make a plan of all that will be done, make an estimate of what each item costs and then try to cut these costs. For instance, a venue for the event is usually mandatory. Some people may be so lucky to get a free space, maybe at their church or place of work, but for most of us, this is usually one of the big ticket items on the budget. So list this and then shop around for any savings you can find on the size of hall that will take your guests comfortably.

Another wedding big ticket item is the food and drinks. Depending on other items on the list, this can be about one-half to a third of the total expense for the wedding. If you have trimmed the size of your guestlist as much as you can, this will be more manageable. To save even more, list out each item you intend to serve and ask if it is really necessary.

As much as you want to wow everyone with caviar, you may not be able to serve it to 500 people on a N1M budget. Again, where will you buy the caviar, Balogun Market? Just joking. Seriously though, finding the right vendors cannot be over emphasized, they can either help you cut costs or will blow up your budget if care is not taken.

Some people who want to lesson the pressure on themselves hire an event planner, who hopefully has done this several times and has worked with different vendors. Going by Beautiful's experience, some planners charge up to 500k and even N3M. Of course, I can't say if this is too large or not, but if I may use percentages, I'll suggest not to pay more than 10% of your total budget estimate to a planner, so if you're looking to spend N5M on the whole wedding, don't pay more than 500K. etc

One thing to bear in mind is that the wedding is just one day, and your marriage follows for the rest of your life. Hopefully. One thing is sure though, whether your marriage succeeds or fails is not dependent on how much the wedding costs. Just try to avoid getting into money problems or in-law disagreements over the event. What I'll say is, always be on the same page with your fiance/fiancee, be smart about the money to be spent, and be a little mellow with your relations and the bridal train arrangements. Beautiful, are you reading this? LOL...

So, throwing the question out.  What has been your experience, and for those planning a wedding, do you have any up to date tips? Do you think spending so much you have to borrow on a wedding is wise? How can brides and grooms look beyond the cost of planning a wedding?


  1. thanks myne. ,my wedding was in Feb though not may. 9 months already (WOW).

    My advice would be look at the numbers. A wedding with 200 guests would be easier to plan and manage and more likely classier than a wedding with 400 guests.

    Chose what is most important to you and compromise on the rest (if you are on a tight budget) For me my makeup, my dress and my pictures were priority...

    ALWAYS start with a budget and a workplan, so it guides you and ensures you dont leave anything out.

    1. Sorry Doll, I've corrected the month. How time flies :)

    2. And also there are various cost drivers such as location. My wedding was on the island (where my folks live), halls, caterers, etc are much cheaper on the mainland. These days people also have the two events (trad and white) on the same day so they can use the same hall, food, etc. So to each his own. BUT NEVER BORROW TO FUND A WEDDING. Its so so senseless and always remember there is life after wedding. Sort out your after wedding accommodation, transportation, etc first.

      Good luck to all those planning at the moment.

  2. I agree with Doll. Borrowing to fund a wedding can lead to money issues later in the marriage. A wedding with fewer guests is classier, easy to manage. How do you get fewer guests in a place like Nigeria where your inlaws will come with their other in-laws who will also come with their In-laws and on and on it goes.

    @Myne, for those planning to wed, you just gave out a very good tip. that the Planner be paid 10 percent of the total budget estimate. Thanks for that tip, my younger ones will use it.

  3. @Myne my one kobo "cuts your coat according to your financial pocket not your size as sizes varies" and you have explained it well.


  4. Uhm i find myself actively thinking about weddings these days; mine's about a year away sha (4th quarter 2013). left to me we'll just hit the registry and be back, but you know ladies now. I plan to combine trad and church into a single day event and in the process cut cost.

    Talking about weddings with fewer guest (200) being cheaper and classier. Can i get practical steps on how to achieve that being that people always bring their friends, who also bring their own friends?

    1. I cannot suggest that you get a bouncer. Your good name is better than everything. You can ask people to come with their IVs so you know who was not invited.But then, how would you feel when you see those who came to rejoice with you being bounced and embarrassed.

    2. I agree with Eya. Think about giving out very few IVs and also a far location as a way to deter uninvited guests but other than that, I don't know.

  5. Talking about Nigerian weddings you might enjoy this post. its really funny and might be helpful.

    Blessing x

  6. Hmm really have nothing to say but I will stick to a limited number of guests, a church wedding and reception.. I really do not care for the trad and all that

    1. My dear, in my culture, without the traditional African thing, your family feels you are not yet married. They feel really really dishonored. Without the Trad, some parents even refuse to come hand you over to the man on the wedding day.

      What I see sometimes over there is that couples do the mandatory Trad, and a pastor is invited for the Registry. After the joining at the Registry, the pastor blesses the Union with the bride in her wedding dress. From the Registry they head off to the reception venue and complete the day there.

  7. Lol…I had “Beautiful” in mind as I read your post. I laughed when I saw that you mentioned her name. Couples shouldn’t be lost in the euphoria of the wedding ceremony and forget to lay the foundation for a “happily ever after” marriage.

  8. myne this ur article came at the right time for me, just over the weekend, my fiance and i had a discussion over this, am yoruba and come from a large family, he's from the Niger Delta part of nigeria. I really want a small wedding with just 100guests but i know thats not going to be possible with just my family alone and am aimimg for 150, i dont want any over the top wedding just something simple and then enjoy my savings with a wonderful honeymoon or something else just for both of us.
    I believe its called the wedding day because it just a couple of hours maximum 7 and then thats when marriage starts

  9. I got married in September. Originally planned for about 200 people. Turned realistic and decided 500 people. The actual turnout was closer to 750. I didn't know more than 50 of these people. The biggest cost driver is RANDOM PEOPLE THAT TURN UP AT YOUR WEDDING

    I'm tight with my money and made a decision from the get go that I wasn't paying twice for hall deco and to feed the same people twice in 3 days. The wedding in total cost about 7m but that includes flights from London for us and all our outfit changes.

    Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I'm convinced now that I had invited 200 people and was STRICT about it. I would have spent a quarter of that 7m and would have had an even better day.

    We are lucky not to be in debt over this wedding but I know so many people that struggle terribly after their marriage. It's only one day. This is coming from someone who was a Bella Naija wedding whore.

  10. LOL!!! OMg how did I miss this post!

    Last week, one dude at work applied to get 6 months salary in advance. In my usual tatafo nature, I asked him why and he said its for his wedding. This dude is muslim and from Tunisia o not even nigerian! I'm still amazed at his thought process. I don't think our naija people have gotten to that level yet. It seems people do crazy things for the wedding and truly forget about the marriage.

    Cutting down guest list is easy before you actually sit to do it to be honest. I drew up my guest list last week and said I didn't want more than 100 (family excluded from list, only friends). I currently have 367 names on the list and I was very "mean" when drawing it up.

    @PrettyLashes - 7M WOW!

  11. Yes o, but remember that is a total cost. Doll I bet you're not thinking of the small things. I totalled EVERY little thing; as small as the cost of postage I paid for my wedding invitations. Flights for us to Naij and the three outfit changes didn't help things.

    As you know doll, I also made a very bad judgement on my wedding dress and ended up buying 3 (that cost me a fair bit too). That's a story for a different day though.

    @Beautiful, 6 months advance for wedding? Wowww! Also realistically the 367 will be 650. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news lol.

    1. @Pretty Lashes: you don't get it...peeps are appalled by that amount...7 million!...the way you quote it effortlessly

      If your folks bankrolled it sha no P. Or if it was some 20th anniversary thing and you wanted to splurge a little I'd be like why not. But for the start of a project, where you're bound to face many uncertainties in the future ...e get as e be.

      I dey hail you abeg.

    2. I really don't get what's appalling about what I said.

      I did say it was a TOTAL cost. Including what my parents contributed but I'm not quite sure I see the relevance of what my parents 'bankrolled' as you say. Wedding cost is still wedding cost. It doesn't make it ok to spend lavishly if its someone else paying for it.

      I also said it is ONE day and there is absolutely no way I would condone borrowing or anything of the such to fund your wedding. I am an accountant, I am very much aware that its the beginning of life and there would be many projects that need funding in the future. I don't know where I insinuated that I took away from these funds for the wedding.

      Doll was at my wedding. It was by no means fancy or society like. I will even go as far as to say it was pretty basic but when you are planning your wedding and total up the cost of something as small as napkins, phone calls to vendors from here or the cost of your cousin taking a taxi to deliver all the aso ebi the reality is that these costs will add up.

      My natural instinct is to create a cost manager for every project. I had an excel spreadsheet where I imputed every SINGLE wedding related cost.

      Again, I will reiterate that I made some bad decisions; the biggest case in point was my three wedding dresses. Some were made for ease, the venue had to be on the island for logistical reasons and as we all know they charge an inflated price for everything there. All these added to the total cost.

      The whole reason I brought up that amount spent was to highlight that when people budget for their wedding they add up cake, decor, dress etc etc and that's it. At the end when they analyze it they realize their budget was way out.

      To go back to my very first comment, I still say keep a guest list as intimate as possible that way you can splash out to treat those that really matter without breaking the bank.

  12. My wedding is coming up in April and the initial plan was 200 pple max but somehow everyone is hell bent on inviting strangers to our wedding. So babyboo and i have agreed to make provision for 500 guests, i probably will know like 100 pple *sigh. We dont intend to borrow so we gonna work strictly within our budget. Have attended weddings where i couldnt find a seat much more food. God help us.

  13. Most people spend big in their wedding because they are expecting something bigger than what they spent to package the wedding...,my wedding is coming up in the 1st quater of next year and i have decided to plan and budget for only 150 people,the hall will determine the size,lol.

  14. if me get 7mill my wedin go b like 2wks ceremony wit gbogbo ayeing all tru.just finishd servic 'babyboo' is still servin job stil in d searching age seriously racing out of hand nd gettin married seriously on ma mind.i must confes i'v learnt from d post to d coments,im workin towards spendin more after d wedin day dan d wedin it self.iv nevr seen a marriage dat succeded cos d wedin was heavily spent on.God help those of us dats stil workin towards it,nd also bless d home of those already into it.Amen

  15. Thanks mine for dis topic... My question is how many person's in Nigeria earn up to N4m per annum? A lot of people want a big wedding but forget what comes after that day. A friend budgeted N5m for his wedding,but after critical thinking and advise from friends and family he ended up spending N2.3m and he also had support. This guy earns N8m per annum but saw d need to cut cost. Today d wife has a very big shop which was funded by d left over.

  16. I totally agree with Pretty Lashes on her comments and total financial summary.
    Point is people are "appalled" at the N7m cos ...people don't usually keep account of their entire expenses. Ding!
    I am not married and don't see a groom in sight, but I have been involved in planning a lot of weddings for family and friends. Weddings cost a lot! Good weddings cost a fortune. But everything is better with good planning.

    I really hope to do few guests of maximum of 200 people and hope I stick with it. I want to pray that by the time a man finds me, both of us will be comfortable enough to cater for the 200 guests and give them an unforgettable experience.

    All the best to the brides and grooms to be!


Click Post a Comment to share your thoughts, I'll love to hear from you. Thanks!

*Comments on old posts are moderated and may take sometime to be shown. That's just because I want to see them and respond to you if necessary.