Nigerian wedding usually has lots of colour and cultural fusion with families and friends coming together to celebrate the couple. Asides from culture, the religion of the couple and the families also influence the type of Nigerian wedding to be had. Wedding anywhere in the world can be a tad bit stressful to plan but nothing beats a Nigerian wedding planning as it is indeed a community celebration.
Why Have A Nigerian Wedding If You Live Abroad?
Nigerians who have migrated to other countries are more likely to desire a Nigerian wedding. There are numerous reasons why a Nigerian wants their Nigerian wedding to take place in their native country, including:
- Cheaper wedding costs in comparison to anywhere else in the world due to the exchange rate.
- Honouring Family’s Request
- Want a much more colourful celebration
Upon moving to Canada and whenever I thought about where I will love to get married, I always knew I wanted to be married in Lagos, Nigeria. Yes! I wanted the typical Nigerian wedding. I was quite uncertain about how to plan a Nigerian Wedding From Canada because I knew I wouldn’t be in Nigeria till about a week or less before my wedding. So a trip to Nigeria meant all my wedding ceremonies will take place while I am there.
Initially, I was clueless about where to start with planning a Nigerian wedding from Canada and I have broken down how to tackle almost every challenging hurdle you may face. The first thing you need to do before you can start planning a wedding is to talk about finances.
Let’s Talk About Wedding Budget
The moment you have fully basked in the joy of being engaged, it is the perfect time to start thinking and talking about your wedding budget. Whether you are planning a small or big wedding, finance is what will see it through. Don’t let the fact that you earn $$ mislead you in your budget. Naira has a low purchasing power so there is only so far your budget can go.
Conversations about one day vs two days, wedding dates, guest lists and so on are details that will inform your budget. After agreeing on a budget it is time to investigate if your budget is realistic or not. You will need to reach out to vendors to get price quotes for their services. Use this wedding planning tracker to input all your expenses and the data you will gather.
Deciding On The Time Of The Year To Get Married In Nigeria
I recommend getting married in Nigeria during the off-season, which is from February to early October. Getting married in April was favourable since we could add at least one statutory holiday to our vacation days.
December was not an option we considered as we planned to get married the following year after our engagement. In addition, December is a very busy period for weddings in Nigeria; it is usually more expensive and the flight tickets are as well. It is definitely a good time to get married if you want all your friends and family to be there for your wedding.
Check & Gather Get Your Travel Documents
Once you’ve been engaged and established a wedding timeline with your partner. Make sure none of your travel documents are due to expire before your wedding. If your travel document is about to expire, make sure you apply for new visas and passports as soon as possible. It is not easy to renew your Nigerian passport in Canada, therefore apply as soon as possible.
Book Your Flight
You have secured your date it is time to book your flight, the earlier you book your flight the better. You can use Google flights to set up tracking alerts for a period of time to ensure you get the best deal. Don’t wait too long though.
Reaching Out To Vendors
Instagram is definitely the go-to place to find all your vendors and look for inspiration for your wedding. If you live in Canada and you want to reach out to vendors, firstly, I recommend you remove any post on your page that has your location, remove it from your page. You can archive your posts temporarily till after your wedding. A lot of vendors are likely to overcharge you because you are abroad.
Getting a Nigerian number on a WhatsApp business account was one of the things that truly helped me. This was the method I used to communicate with my vendors. Of course, due to my response time, the vendors I committed to eventually figured I was abroad. It’s up to you whether or not you give out the information.
How To Send Money For Wedding Expenses
The vendors you have selected and agreed to use their service will request a deposit from you and the last thing you need is to be worried about how to send money to Nigeria. Lemonade Finance was my go-to app for all of my wedding transactions, and the rate was quite favourable throughout the preparation process.
Finding An Event Planner In Nigeria
It’s always a good idea to use planners that have been recommended by someone as they assist you in negotiating the best possible offer.
This was the most difficult task of them all; finding an event planner was really difficult for me because of the cost. Many planners have different pricing metrics, which vary depending on the number of guests, the type of planning required and so on. If I could do things differently, I would hire a day coordinator to manage things. Not all planners have your best interest with the vendor recommendations they provide.
Figuring Out Your Wedding Guest List
We were pretty clear from the beginning that we would have a 300-guest wedding. The breakdown looked to be 100 guests for each household, including ourselves – the couple. About a month before the wedding, the guest list grew from 300 to 500+ attendees.
It was easy to address the guest issue because we secured a venue with a capacity of 1000 people. You may question why we acquired such a large hall capacity; unfortunately, due to covid restrictions in Nigeria, event centres at the time we paid for the hall could only have half capacity. The limit was extended to 70% capacity a few weeks before the wedding. Let’s just say my Nigerian wedding attracted a large crowd.
Furthermore, make sure you sign contracts with all of your vendors, especially if your agreement is based on the number of people attending your event. Your guest list is one thing you can’t reasonably control, so include a provision stating that if the number of guests changes, you’ll be charged a specific amount else your vendors will likely act out.
Finding A Wedding Venue
Your guest list determines the capacity of the venue you should consider. We chose a wedding venue that could hold 500 guests because, as I mentioned earlier, we were looking for a venue that could accommodate 300 attendees and expected to exceed that number by 50-100 guests. Because of Nigeria’s covid restrictions, your venue will not be able to accommodate the full capacity.
We sought a venue close to our church as well as potential hotels where we might stay the night before the wedding. Further, we required a place that would not attract thugs (if possible, hire bouncers and police officers) as well as ample parking.
Unto the nitty-gritty, not all wedding planners will help out with venue search. You might run into issues if you get your planner involved after getting a venue. My parents and planner did their own independent search for venues and we looked at the best option for our budget.
It is important to state that venue price changes every day in Lagos, the venue we initially wanted, had a price increase in less than a week by about 300k. So we had to settle for another venue. Thankfully, our planner stepped in and helped out with a new venue and negotiated on our behalf.
Depending on the size of your wedding anywhere from 500+, your venue will cost you over one million naira. (This information is accurate as of writing this post). The Location as well will influence the cost. There are also additional charges that come with securing a venue and your vendors will pay caution fees as well.
Ensure your venue has a changing room, and cooking area, and inquire about the type of chairs your venue will be providing. My planner was familiar with this venue so I did not have to worry about this.
Where To Source For Your Nigerian Wedding Attires?
How many Nigerian wedding attires do you need?
There are so many outfits associated with a Nigerian wedding:
- Outfit for Introduction
- Prewedding Photoshoot outfits
- Traditional wedding attire
- Court Wedding Attire
- Church Wedding Attire
- Reception Attire
- After party Attire
In total, you will be looking at about 8 or more outfits for your entire wedding. Hire a stylist if you can afford it.
Where To Find Your Wedding Dress?
I really went back and forth on getting my wedding dress in Nigeria but because I knew I would likely arrive a week or a couple of weeks before my wedding ,I could not risk it. I opted for buying a wedding dress in Canada. Unfortunately in Halifax, there are not a lot of bridal stores if I had known I should have booked a wedding dress appointment in Montreal as there would have been lots of options for me.
I always thought I will wear a satin off-shoulder dress just like my friend, Tiwa did for her wedding. For my wedding, the first dress I tried on that had my friends in tears was an Organza dress with lace details with a low back cut-out. As much as I loved the dress, it was not an option as I will wear my white wedding dress to church.
My wedding dress ended up being a Vera Wang organza tube dress. I had to buy sleeves for my dress from David’s Bridal and it made it a perfect pairing. I really like that David’s Bridal had lots of options for sleeve styles for people who want a conservative option.
Where To Find Your Reception Attire?
My goal was to avoid disappointment as much as possible, just like I did with my wedding gown. I intended to buy a gown from Turkey, but I wasn’t sure if the sheer material I selected would match my skin tone because Middle Easterners and Africans have such distinct skin tones. I looked at the return policy and wasn’t sure whether I would get my money back if something went wrong, so I decided to hunt for a dress in Canada. Wedding reception gowns can be found in a variety of prom stores.
Where To Find Your Traditional Dress?
We didn’t have a choice about getting our traditional attire sewn in Canada. We got someone in Canada to take our measurements and sent them to the tailors for our clothes to be made.
Where To Find Your Yoruba Attire?
For the Yoruba attire, the aso-oke (Yoruba attire) was from Deroyal Fabrics; the prices were super affordable. The initial plan was to have it sewn by whoever makes the fabric, however, the cost of sewing was very expensive. I started to consider sewing with someone else which ended up being cheaper. I knew I wanted Chantilly lace with my aso-oke so I purchased the fabric from Oreke Fabrics.
My Yoruba outfit dress didn’t turn out to be very good at first. When I initially saw the sleeves, I thought to myself, “NO!! I cannot afford to look like a clown”, It will be necessary to replace these sleeves”. And when I landed in Lagos, I did just that.
Where To Find Your Rivers Attire?
For my second attire, finding a George material that isn’t expensive was tough. I purchased one from an Instagram vendor and it became a story of what I ordered vs what I got. A lot of these vendors won’t refund you. My friends & my mum ended up going to Lagos Market to purchase the fabric of my choice. Upon the outfit being sewn, all I needed was an extra slim fit as I was dieting prior to the wedding to ensure I would have no issues with my outfits.
My partner’s traditional attire did not fit him when we arrived in Lagos. We had to get new material to resew his two outfits, but we had them back in two days. Fortunately, we were just charged for the material for his clothing and not for the rush job.
To be honest, a good tailor would be able to tell if your measurements are incorrect. The first person to question his measurement was the tailor who sewed his Yoruba attire. Many vendors can sew your dress 2-5 days before your wedding if they know you live abroad. The majority of them prefer this alternative.
Where To Find Your Court Wedding Dress?
Not all churches in Nigeria can join you legally so we had to have a court wedding. I purchased my court wedding dress from Boohoo where I got a boutique full dress.
Where To Find Your Shoes & Accessories?
My first purchase for my Nigerian wedding was a silver shoe for my white wedding dress, which was simply stunning. I knew I wasn’t going to buy a bridal shoe right away. The bridal shoe, in this case, is white with a bow and lace that makes it hard to wear again. I chose silver shoes, which were stunning.
All of my other wedding accessories including bridal robe were purchased from Shein, Bizou, Amazon, Aliexpress, and Lagos Market. I knew I wouldn’t use these items again, therefore it didn’t make sense to spend so much money on them.
Where Should I have my Prewedding Photoshoot?
We couldn’t decide whether we wanted our pre-wedding photoshoot in Nigeria or in Canada. Our wedding photography included pre-wedding photoshoots, therefore making it a difficult choice. We were determined to make our journey to Nigeria as stress-free as possible. As a result, we chose to have our photo session in Canada. Use @duyamis if you’re in Halifax; he did an amazing job with our photo shoot.
Getting Photography & Videography Vendors
It’s nearly impossible to find wedding photography and videography that isn’t prohibitively expensive. We were looking for high-quality photos at a low cost. We hired the same photography service to do the videography so that we could get the best value possible.
I recommend hiring two photographers, including one with wedding photography experience. This is another item you should ask for recommendations.
I finally saw my wedding photos a few weeks ago, and they were simply stunning.
Your Glam Squad Is Everything
The makeup artist, hairstylist, and gele artist comprise a bride’s glam squad. My vendors nailed the look and understood the assignment. I really wanted a look that wouldn’t change my face completely and loved it so much
Hairstylist – Dbeautyworld
Gele Artiste – Kherny’s Touch
Make up artiste –Divadivineatelier
Do you need a Wedding Cake?
People rarely eat wedding cakes, so the cake was something we could have done without. I wanted a fake cake, but they were considerably more expensive than actual cakes. Cakes and Cream was the place where I got my wedding cake. The cake turned out to be truly gorgeous.
Sourcing For Nigerian Wedding Decoration
With your planner, you must determine which vendors you must have a say in, and one of those areas was decoration. The price quotes were outrageous. I discussed the choices I was considering with my sister-in-law, who is also a planner, and she was able to assist us in making a selection. We went overspent in this area, but I suppose you can’t save money everywhere.
Food & Drinks Is A Must At Nigerian Weddings
This was one of the most expensive items on my Nigerian wedding list. The number of guests and the type of meals served has a considerable impact on the food cost. You must account for excess food at your wedding. Many caterers charge from 2000 per plate. This pricing fluctuates on a daily basis, so be sure you and your caterer have a definite agreement. The vendor was demanding extra money a day before the function since the cost of food had increased. I would also recommend having multiple caterers at your wedding.
Although I was not involved with drinks because there is only so much I could possibly take on but the cocktails at the wedding were so good. Shakes & More delivered on this one.
What is a Nigerian Wedding Without Entertainment?
My planner had her suggestions, but we went with family and friend recommendations.We selected vendors recommended by friends and family as you know, I was all about getting the most bang for our buck.
Recommendation for your entertainment which usually includes :
Dj – Dj Tunnex
Trad MC (Alaga) – Tokotaya
MC – MC Scholar
There are many non-wedding-related costs to consider, some of which may require a separate budget. Hotel, flights, transportation, and meals for the night before and the morning of the wedding are some of these expenses.
Where will you and your bridal party stay the night before the wedding?
You and your bridal party can stay in an Airbnb or a hotel. Except for a few hotels on the island, most hotels in Nigeria are not particularly good looking. It’s crucial to consider where your wedding stay will be because it will affect the quality of your photos and videos.
We spent a lot of money on this because we had guests arriving from both overseas and within Nigeria. We felt bound to keep them in a safe accommodation. We also desired a beautiful background for photographs.
On the Lagos mainland, finding suitable hotels that are both aesthetically pleasant and beautiful is difficult. Leola Hotel was recommended by a friend and it was fantastic. We enjoyed it so much that we returned there after visiting Abuja and returning to Lagos. The meal and service were both excellent. Definitely a 5 out of 5.
What worked for us in planning a Nigerian wedding from Canada?
We both knew we didn’t want a long engagement, so we settled on the month we wanted to marry early on. We then decided on a budget and began saving in the months leading up to our wedding. It was critical to both of us and our family that we avoid going into debt for our wedding.
We started getting vendor quotes without the help of an event planner to see if our budget was reasonable. It also gave an idea of what was reasonable in each category. All of the pricing we were receiving was being entered into a Google Drive sheet that we both had access to.
We kept track of all payments after wedding preparation began, which normally begins with a partial payment and progressed to full payment a month before the wedding. We had paid for every service in full by the time we arrived in Lagos, with the exception of videography and photography, which you generally pay once you receive your photographs and video.
Disagreements with family and your planner are inevitable they both want the best for you from their own perspective. It is okay that their best is not your best. Pick your battles and don’t compromise on the things that mean the most to you and your partner.
Plan For Contingency
We put aside more money than we needed for our Nigerian wedding to help with contingency. The traditional attire and decor requirements were the only complications we had to deal with. Contingency could be :
- Getting a new wedding gown
- Booking another flight
- Getting a new vendor last minute
- Addressing something you forgot
After the wedding, we were lucky to have money left over in our wedding account.
Travelling To Nigeria From Canada
The travel to Nigeria was a long-haul flight; I arrived 6 days before my wedding and spent 5 days fitting my traditional attire. Getting my hair done by relaxing and making it the night before.
The majority of my vendors delivered and for some, I do not have their Instagram contacts but their personal numbers. Vendors whose personal contact I have are :
- Live Band
- Yoruba Attire Vendor
- Rivers Attire Vendor
- Food Vendor
Any vendor I did not list means I can’t recommend them, unfortunately.
I can’t believe it took me 3.5 months to plan my Nigerian wedding in Canada. To be honest, I didn’t think we’d be able to pull it off. Our venue was secured in February, and the wedding was held in April. As a result, the bulk of the planning took place in February and March. If I can do it again, I’ll be able to plan in less time.
You have spent lots of time planning and putting your money into the day so choose to enjoy your day; it will pass by so quickly, trust me. Have a good time with your friends and family who have chosen to invest their time to celebrate you.