In Nigeria, wedding is largely seen as an expensive venture, as it is done in three stages, the first being traditional wedding (or engagement) the second being the formal aspect, whether in church, mosque or at the registry, and the third being the reception.
Arguably, wedding has always been one of the ceremonies that people cherish most, and it’s one of those that probably won’t go away for the rest of time.
Its significance is not just because it formally heralds the beginning of a matrimony, although that is significant, it is also because it is an important event that the people taking part in it are fully aware of.
In christening, though the baby is alive, he or she may not be totally aware of the happenings around them, while the dead are assumed to be unaware of their burial ceremonies.
Interestingly, being a ceremony that marks the beginning of a lasting togetherness, the way and manner people go about it depends largely on the culture and tradition of the area they, especially the woman, hail from.
On a cursory look at the way wedding ceremonies are held in some other climes, while it is capital intensive in some, it is purely ceremonial and cultural in some places and yet in some other places, it is held briefly. Also, in some places, it is a one-day event but in some other places, it is multi-day event, each with its attendant cost.
For example, in Japan, the bride is painted pure white from head to toe and she and the husband become husband and wife once they drink sake (Japanese rice wine) together. In Jamaica, wedding is a community affair as everyone comes together to help in the planning and they all gather to see the bride and they assess her outfit.
In Germany, the ceremony is done in three parts and it is capital intensive, while in Cuba, it is an expensive ceremony and any male guest who dances with the bride is expected to pin money to her dress to help the couple pay for their honeymoon.
However, in Nigeria, wedding is largely seen as an expensive venture, as it is done in three stages, the first being traditional wedding (or engagement) the second being the formal aspect, whether in church, mosque or at the registry, and the third being the reception.
While the traditional is seen as sacrosanct, the third stage, which is hosting people at a reception, seems to be the most expensive. And because of the cost of the ceremony, some people delay or shy away from wedding.
But there is good news. Experts say it is possible to have a beautiful wedding that won’t be too costly and won’t appear cheap or pedestrian. An events planner, Miss Oluwatamilore Adeyemi shares some tips that could help people save cost:
1. Cut down the number of guests: It has been established that the number of guests or invited persons determines the size of the hall, the quantity of the food to be prepared, the quantity of drinks and the number of souvenirs, which would influence the amount spent eventually. This is the view of Adeyemi, as she adds that people who truly want to cut cost would limit the number of the persons they would invite and that leaving it open-ended would not do any good.
She adds, “I realise that most people want to impress and make a statement during their wedding. If you truly want to cut cost, there is no reason why you should have a wedding that is over 500 guests, because more guests make you spend more. If you are making food for 400 people, it’s cheaper than making food for 1,000 people. And a hall that would take 1,000 persons could cost about N1.5m, whereas a hall that would accommodate 250 guests could go for about N120,000. Look at how much you have saved. So, the first thing to do is to reduce the number of your guests.”
She stressed that it is better to have fewer guests that would enjoy the programme than having large number where majority would be dissatisfied or disgruntled.
“So, the rule is, cut down on your guest list and invite only those that actually matter. “If the cost of food per person is N1,000 and you have 150 persons, you would only spend N150,000, but if you have 1,000 guests, you would spend N1.5m on food alone. Those whose presence you want to enjoy should be the ones at your wedding. And it also affects what you would spend to get a band, because the larger the hall, the more you would pay as they would have to bring more speakers and that tells on your fees too.”
2. Be flexible about the day: The director of Bridal Consultants in the US, Dena Davey, said people should consider fixing their wedding on other days apart from Saturday, the usual day, so as to save cost. She said events hall managers also tend to charge more on Saturday than other days. But Adeyemi disagreed.
She said, “I don’t agree because at the end of the day, people that really matter to you may not be able to attend, and it would look as if you are cutting them off, except you are sure that those people would all be on leave. The ideal time for a party is weekend when everybody is free.” She said instead of holding it during the week, to save cost, people could explore the option of takeaway food, like serving them while coming from the registry as it removes the cost of hall, music band or hiring a disc jockey.
She said, “You could have a small thanksgiving in a hall; dance, eat and enjoy yourselves. The truth is that people don’t really enjoy themselves at a wedding; they are so stressed and they are busy catering to people who have not eaten that they miss the fun at the end of the day.”
3. Do some things yourself: Notably, one of the things that gulp money while planning for a wedding is invitation cards; not just the distribution, but the cost of printing them. Adeyemi said that, generally, invites are overrated and that on the average, one could cost between N500 and N1,000. She, however, advised that people could use e-invite; write a letter and send by mail, or prepare an access card, which she said could cost as low as N100.
She said, “Except you are really buoyant, then I think people should cut down on what they spend on cards. People assume that the beauty of the invitation card says a lot about their financial status, so at the end of the day, it’s all about showing off. You can save that money.”
4. Don’t seek to impress: From observation, one of people’s motivations when it comes to wedding planning is to impress and show people that they are well to do. But Adeyemi said that is not necessary.
She said, “Invite the people you can cater to and let them have food to eat. You could have agreed with the caterer that it’s one plate of food and two proteins per person, to avoid shortage. If you are inviting 200, make food for 350. It’s better to have excess than shortage. It is not a must to buy alcohol, if you think it would shoot up your budget.” Also, she said instead of inviting an artiste, people could just call a DJ or a small band. “With either of the two, have a good time, dance with your parents and friends.”
5. Talk to a credible event planner: It would appear that one good way to have a beautiful, low-cost wedding would be to talk to an event planner, who would help to reconcile the couple’s expectations with what their budget could cover. Adeyemi said this should come after both families have agreed on what they want, adding that even though people run away from engaging the services of event planners, erroneously thinking they couldn’t afford it, taking that step is the way to go.
She said, “The planner would tell you the best venue that would save you cost in terms of logistics. For example, you could get a venue in Magodo for a higher price, but the logistics and the decoration could be cheaper due to access, while a cheaper hall in Abule Egba could attract higher cost of logistics and decoration.
“So, talking to a planner helps to put things in perspective and save cost. She added that a caterer or professional event planner would also make use of professional security personnel to keep away miscreants and other unwanted persons. Just as Davey suggests that such persons should consider using open spaces, parks or beaches, to avoid paying for halls, Adeyemi said for any event in an open space, there should be provision for security.”
6. Your planner doesn’t have to be a family member: Perhaps, one way people run into ‘trouble’ during their wedding is when they give certain duties to unqualified family members. Findings show that this does not only lead to avoidable quarrels, it constrains the couple to accept things as they are so as not to offend family members.
She said, “Once family members are in charge, you could be looking at a flop, because they would take care of themselves and their own and there is a limit to how you could speak to them. But a professional would ensure that everybody gets a fair, equal treatment and not that someone would just come and ask for 10 pieces of meat.”
She stressed that it is lack of planning and mismanagement that oftentimes brings about shortage. She added, “In Nigeria, we expect family members to do things for us, even when they are not competent. And that is why things flop because you don’t employ the professionals. A caterer is conscious of a next time, so him/ he or she would serve you well so you could recommend him/her to others.”