Beyond the Cost of Planning a Wedding

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?