Everybody loves weddings. Every parent’s dream is to see their children get married to the right person, and at the right time, under the right circumstances. The dream of every young girl is to one day see her man walk her down the aisle and commit to her for the rest of his life. In Nigeria, ladies grow into adolescence with a mental picture of their ideal spouse, thus they judge all potential suitors with reference to that standard in their minds.
In Nigeria, weddings are one of the most celebrated events. Most weddings take place on weekends; and in fact, these days, there is absolutely no corner of town anywhere in Nigeria, where there isn’t either a wedding taking place, or guests converging to attend a wedding someplace else.
Nigerians love weddings. Typically, Nigerian weddings are characterized by colourful dresses and themes, beautifully designed halls, plenty of food and drinks and food to go around, beautifully dressed groomsmen and bridesmaids, and of course, photographs. No wedding is considered complete without these elements.
It is said, that; ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’. This saying holds true, when it comes to preparing for weddings. Adequate preparation is key to having a wonderful wedding. There are lots of things to consider and put in place when preparing for a wedding. We have outlined these things to help you and guide your preparation.
You must understand that, a wedding is not a do or die affair. With adequate preparation, you can have a stress-free and wonderful wedding. So, ensure that you digest this post and see the things you need to do when preparing for a Nigerian wedding.
Foundation for the preparation
Firstly, before you think of preparing for a wedding, if you are a man, you must have first proposed to the lady of your dreams, and she must have accepted your proposal. It is foolishness to begin to plan a wedding with a lady who is still unaware of your intentions, and who has not given her consent.
So, after you have proposed to her and she has said the golden ‘YES’, the next thing will be for you to meet her parents and get acquainted with them. Once that is done, and the necessary demands have been made known to you, you can then decide to start planning for the wedding.
The same goes for the ladies; don’t start preparing for a wedding with a man who has not yet proposed marriage to you. You might end up getting heartbroken! Until he pops the question, relax and don’t get agitated by your other friends that are getting married everywhere.
Secondly, after both parties have agreed to get married, another fundamental thing that must be done, which is also part of the foundational preparations, is to carry out medical tests. The intending couple must check for genotypic compatibility, as well as the presence of any terminal diseases or disease conditions that may jeopardize their dream of a sweet marriage. They should also carry out fertility tests, HIV/AIDS tests, and many others, just to ensure that they are compatible in their health. They can only proceed to do the main preparation when they have been certified ‘fit’ and medically compatible by a professional medical practitioner.
The foundation for preparing for a wedding is both parties AGREEING to get married, and then ASCERTAINING their medical compatibility.
Now, after both parties have decided, and both have become acquainted with each other’s families, then the main preparation can begin.
THE PREPARATION PROPER
1. Fix the Wedding Date:
The first thing in the main preparation is the date for the wedding. Check your calendars to see all the possible dates that you can choose. And give yourself time to plan. Under normal circumstances, choose a date that gives you a minimum of a window of six months to plan. This is because, the guests you will invite will need some time to plan, then you’ll also need to pay bills, print fliers, do some social media thrills, get the wedding dresses, and put structures in place for the marriage. If both parties getting married are church folks, they may need time to attend some compulsory church marriage seminars or counselling sessions. So, it is wise to allow time for such contingencies.
Never plan hurriedly! Give yourself time.
2. Decide The Type Of Wedding
Do you want a high-class, talk-of-the-town ceremony? Or just a low-key celebration with friends and family? Or, are you considering a court wedding, or a traditional wedding, or a white wedding, or all three? You must decide what kind of wedding you want to do, as it helps you in the rest of the preparation process.
Once you can define the kind of wedding you want to do, the options that are most applicable to you will become clearer. What applies for the traditional wedding may not necessarily apply for the court wedding; and, if you are planning a low-key church wedding, then a traditional ceremony may not be your line of action.
Even though these days many people do a combination of all the types of weddings, it is best you decide which you want to do. When you decide, the rest of the preparation is made considerably easier.
3. Decide The Preferred Location For The Wedding
Another thing you need to decide on is the location of the wedding. Where would it hold? The groom’s church, or the bride’s? The groom’s hometown, or a neutral place? You need to decide on the location for the wedding. Once it is decided upon, place people in charge of making enquiries and bookings for the date that was fixed. One thing that informs the choice of location is the type of wedding that the intending couple has decided to have.
4. Draw Up A Budget
Truth be told; weddings cost a lot of money. If you want to wed without breaking the bank, the best thing you can do for yourself is to draw a budget for the wedding. At this stage, you already know the kind of wedding you want to have, you also know here the wedding will take place. So, begin to do cost analysis of all the factors and variables surrounding these two decisions, and plan accordingly. It is not advisable to take a bank loan to fund a wedding ceremony! Once all the things you anticipate you will need for the wedding have been carefully outlined and priced, begin to explore creative ways to fund them – that is, if you cannot conveniently fund them by yourself.
It is advisable to decide on what amount you can afford to spend on the wedding, and use that as a guide to draw your budget. You must not break the bank because of a wedding. Marriage comes with its own expenses, so reserve some funds for your married life.
Use this trick: plan for an amount that you can conveniently afford, without having to seek for assistance, before, during and after the wedding.
5. Send Out Invitations To Guests
Nobody wishes to attend a wedding impromptu. People like to prepare well and plan for whatever weddings they wish to attend, especially ladies. If you must have a good wedding ceremony, have a list of everyone you wish to invite, and send out invites as early as you can.
Please note, that you do not need to send invites for everyone that you know. Some people will naturally invite themselves once they hear about your wedding. So, you should send out special invites to special/important people early enough, while you could also leverage on social media to spread word about your upcoming wedding.
6. Book The Wedding Dresses (Male & Female)
This is very crucial. Wedding dresses are an important part of every wedding ceremony. In fact, in Nigeria, there are only two reasons why people attend weddings: one, to eat the food; and two, to see the couple. And a vital part of seeing the couple involves scrutinizing their dresses. Ladies love to scrutinize the bride’s gown, especially the fashionistas among them; while the men want to see how handsome and well-dressed the groom will turn out to be.
The only way to meet their expectation, is to ensure that you prepare for the wedding dresses well ahead of time. Let the intending bride go through her options and catalogues for the gown, and make her choice in earnest; while the groom should do same for the suit, or whatever attire they both decide to put on. If they will be wearing traditional attires, the designs to be sewed should be decided on in earnest, and the materials should be provided.
Early planning is key to a successful wedding ceremony.
7. Decide On The Colour Codes and Book For The Aso Ebi (For Guests And Attendees)
Nigerian weddings typically have colour codes for both the couple and the guests. That is one reason why our weddings are usually very colourful. So, in preparing for a wedding, the colour codes must be decided on. Also, the Aso Ebi must also be selected.
There is simply no Nigerian wedding these days that takes place without Aso Ebi. In fact, most times, a member of the wedding planning team purchases the selected material in bulk, and resells it to as many guests as indicate interest ahead of time, before the wedding date. It could also be a means of income to fund some of the expenses. It is therefore necessary to book for, and purchase the Aso Ebi materials ahead of time, so as to be able to meet the needs of the guests.
8. Book For The Caterer And The Cake
As earlier stated, one major reason why people attend weddings, especially in the western part of Nigeria, is because of the food. If you are preparing for a wedding, you must prepare to feed the guests that you are inviting. Therefore, it is advisable to make plans for a good caterer to make sumptuous meals to feed your guests.
You should also book for the wedding cake. This is essential if the caterer does not specialize in cakes.
There are many catering companies that can conveniently cater for your wedding food and cakes. You can search them out and contract one that suits your bills, and that also has good reviews. However, be prepared to provide them with a rough estimate of how many guests you are expecting, and also a deposit payment for them to commence work.
9. Book For The Rings
Weddings are not complete without the rings on the fingers of the couple. You should book ahead of time for the rings to be delivered to you. They should also be kept in safe custody until the ‘D-Day’. There have been instances of sweet weddings turned sour, when the rings could not be produced at the vital moment.
10. Inform The Groomsmen And Bridesmaids
If you have decided on who and who you want to be on your bridal train – for the ladies; or the groomsmen – for the men, you should inform them in earnest. It helps them prepare adequately.
11. Get an EmCee
Many people overlook this part for financial reasons, but it is equally important as well. Weddings are not like birthdays. Birthdays are celebrated every year, while weddings come only once in a lifetime. A good EmCee can give the couple a memorable experience that will be cherished for life.
This is also very crucial. A time of preparation for wedding should be laden with prayers to one’s maker. Marital decisions have been made, based on the couple’s level of knowledge and foresight. However, in many areas, they may be blind; so, it is imperative that they subscribe to a higher force, which sees all things, to ensure that things do not go bad for them when they get married.
This is the most comprehensive list of things to do when preparing for a wedding. Follow it, and enjoy a wonderful wedding.
May your marriages be sweet!