Wedding receptions are the juicy parts of Nigerian weddings. All the food, drinks, comedy, dance and papparazi come only during the reception. In fact, many people do not attend church weddings; they go straight to the reception.
In Nigeria, there are ordinary receptions and there are classy receptions. Most parents whose kids plan to get married often wish that their kids’ wedding receptions would be the talk of the town for a long time.
Planning and organizing wedding receptions is fast turning into a career in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, statistics have shown that up to ninety percent of wedding budgets are spent at the reception alone; which underscores just how important wedding receptions are.
These days, people build organizations around the wedding planning industry, and they offer services that cater for everything your reception will need. However, even though these corporate planners are quite efficient at what they do, their charges are also very high. Booking the services of a wedding planner is highly cost-intensive. However, it also has its advantages: one, it saves the couple and their respective families the stress of doing all the work of planning and organizing. These days, wedding planners go as far as taking charge of the couple’s dresses, the cakes and food, choice of venue, the aso ebi, souvenirs, hall rental and decoration, invitations both to important persons and on social media, and etcetera. You only provide them with your preferences, and they will make it happen for you.
However, as earlier established, they are usually very expensive. If you are unwilling to foot the cost, or you are unable to conveniently afford their services, the good news is that you can still have a wonderful wedding reception by planning it yourself.
Such is the essence of this post. It contains a couple of tips through which you can plan a fabulous wedding reception in Nigeria. Read on!
1. Bring Your Mind Into It
For many people that do not eventually hire the services of professional wedding reception planners, they might tend to think that, their weddings might turn out to be ‘average’, and that it will not have the flavor and glamour that corporate planners can infuse. Well, this disposition is only one-sided. You must realize that if you know what they know, you too can do what they do, or even better.
Therefore, the first step in planning a glamorous wedding reception is to first believe that it can and will be a huge success. You cannot make it happen in real life, when it has not yet happened in your mind.
Dream big, and dream wide. See it happening. When your mind captures it, then your hand can reproduce it.
2. Start Planning Early Enough
The biggest mistake one can make in planning for a wedding reception is to start planning late. Every grand wedding reception took several months to plan and put together. In fact, some can take more than a year, just to plan. So, the best thing you can do for yourself is, after you have had a mental picture of the kind of wedding reception you want to have, begin to plan for it in earnest. Give yourself a couple of months to plan it; do not just plunge into it. In fact, it is only under unusual circumstances that even the professional wedding planners take on wedding reception projects with short notice.
It takes time to plan, make bookings, invite guests, raise funds, and to attend to all the essentials that are needed to make your wedding reception grand. Therefore, you must give yourself time to plan.
3. Make a Budget for the Reception
An intricate part of the planning for the reception is the aspect of making a budget for the reception. Now, you have a mental picture of the kind of reception you want to have. As you imagined, you must have come up with a list of all the things that you will need to make it a reality. Begin to put all these things down on paper, and put real-time market prices against each of them.
Things that you will need to budget for include the hall rental, food and drinks for your guests, and other entertainment elements.
If you do not make a budget, you run the risk of spending on things that are not necessary, or overspending altogether.
4 Be Creative
People always look forward to new things and new concepts. The average human being will get tired of the norm sooner or later. Yesterday’s excellence is today’s mediocrity; so do not be afraid to be creative in your planning. Look at what the current trend with wedding receptions is, and see how you can creatively improve on it.
When this happens, people will remember the reception better, not just because of the fun and excellence, but because of the new flavor which they have seen and learned.
5 Decide on the number of guests that would be invited
Are you going to have an open house, where everyone who hears about the reception will be free to attend? Or would you have a ‘strictly by invitation’ kind of reception? This is what you must decide.
Are you considering an ‘all-white’ themed reception on a private yacht someplace, with a few invited friends, family and associates? Or are you considering inviting the general public to a massive town-hall reception celebration?
You must decide on the number of guests that you want to attend your reception. This will help you plan for the food, drinks, and souvenirs. One thing that can keep your reception from rocking and being the talk of the town is shortage of food and souvenirs. This is Nigeria; no matter how superb the reception has been, if food and souvenirs are not plenty enough to go around, people will feel offended, and will thus rate your reception poorly.
6. Decide on the space
Today, in Nigeria, nine out of ten couples having wedding receptions prefer to do them in an enclosed space. Now, while this is good and convenient, couples should not be afraid to try new concepts like outdoor receptions. An open-air reception in a cool weather environment – like a beachside – sounds fascinating, perhaps magical: however, the only way it can become a real fairytale is if you plan accordingly. Two things that should inform your decision of the space and location you wish to have your reception is the weather.
For instance, if your wedding reception date falls on a day in rainy season, then you must never consider doing an outdoor reception. It is a crazy thing to contemplate: or, have you considered what would happen when it begins to rain? Your guests would disperse; that’s what happens. Conversely, if the date for the reception is in the dry season, and you insist on having an outdoor reception, then let it be in the evening time, when the heat of the sun is down. Only then can you have a fantastic experience.
If you now decide to stick with the old way of having indoor receptions at a hall or event center, then ensure that the hall is exquisitely decorated, is spacious, and air-conditioned, if possible. The last thing you want to have is guests feeling heated up in the reception; it takes the shine off your plans. Also ensure that there are adequate toilet facilities at the location. Trust Nigerians; many will over-eat at the reception and develop a purging stomach, while others will simply want to empty their bowels to create capacity to receive more.
So, once you have decided on the space, make bookings, and get the place set up in earnest.
7. Get Your Reception Dresses and Dances Ready
It is not trendy to use the same outfit you used at the church or court wedding for the reception. If your reception must rock, it must either go with the trend or beat the trend; and one way to do that, is to change clothes for the reception.
Let the bride replace her long-flowing gown with something trendy, like an off-shoulder gown; and let the groom loosen up to a different suit or some other trendy outfit. You must be freer at the reception!
Also, the couple should prepare for their first dance as a couple. If possible, they should rehearse the latest dance steps. This alone can excite the crowd far beyond imagination! Don’t come with your boring church dance steps. Get trendy!
8. Get Paparrazi!!! DJ, EmCee and Photographer
Get a nice DJ to play danceable and trendy music. Note the use of the word, ‘danceable’. A wedding reception is not the place to bring solemn songs into. It is not a solemn assembly; it is an entertainment and excitement arena. If you cannot hire a live band, get a good DJ to come with the latest songs, and then at the appropriate times, showcase your dance moves.
Also, getting an EmCee is a necessary thing. No reception can be glamorous without good, danceable music, and a comedian or an EmCee to keep the atmosphere cool and relaxed. There are two ways to this: one, hire a popular comedian to come and crack jokes and anchor the reception program; two, you could get a close friend, or acquaintance who you trust will be competent and charismatic enough to keep the atmosphere lively.
The last thing you will want to do is to bore your guests. If you want your reception to be remembered for long, for the right reasons, get yourself a good DJ and EmCee or comedian.
Also, weddings are only once in a lifetime. Get a photographer or take pictures of both the couple and the guests. Memories of events soon get erased from people’s minds, but pictures have a way of bringing them back.
Capture the special moments.
9. Choose on the Menu and Souvenirs
Depending on your choice of location and the number of guests to be invited, your choice of menu could be varied. However, ensure to provide meals that suit the audience. If you want to make your reception rock, then one way to ensure it is to make food be in abundance, and in varieties. Let there be a mix of continental and traditional dishes. In fact, if you had the means, you could have a buffet with lots of dishes and condiments, and you allow people to serve themselves according to desire.
If you do this, your reception will never be forgotten. It will also set the trend for other receptions to align with.
The same goes for the souvenirs. Have the souvenirs in abundance, so that people have no complaints whatsoever. Give them something that speaks to their needs. Gone are the days of giving people soap, buckets and food flasks as souvenirs. Those things are outdated. If you want your reception to rock hard, give them things like rechargeable lamps or power banks – they will surely find them useful, given the current erratic power supply system in the country. You could also give them keyholders, or jotters.
10. Make the reception program loaded but as brief as possible
It is important to plan the progression of the reception. Do not just take things as they come; plan for them, and give every segment of the event a time allotment. More importantly, let the times and performances be regulated by a compere, or an EmCee or comedian – whichever one you hire.
Endeavor to keep the program loaded, but also as brief as possible. The truth is, tendencies are that, once the reception starts dragging for too long, people might ‘zone out’ and get disinterested. You must consider the fact that people must return to their respective homes eventually, so you must respect their time.
Therefore, organize it in such a way that the people who attend will savor every moment and wish it did not end, when it eventually does. That way, the reception continues in their minds, and they leave the venue with stories to tell and memories to cherish in the future.
May your weddings be sweet!