Nigerian Weddings

10 Unique Ideas for Planning a Big-Girls Wedding with a Small Budget in Nigeria

It’s not a secret that Nigerians love OTT (Over-the-Top) weddings. And, if you’re like most brides-to-be I meet, chances are that you want a big dream wedding, even though you and your husband-to-be have a small money (budget). Maybe all your girlfriends had talk-of-the-town type of weddings, and they’re all expecting you not to disappoint the big-girls-club. If that sounds like you, here’s 10 awesome ideas for planning a (kinda) big Nigerian wedding with a small budget, and still get to save lots of money to enjoy your married life beyond the wedding day. Read on.

Photo Credit: Dotun (Nigerian wedding photographer)

1. Book Honeymoon In Advance to Save Cost and Dine Like Royalty

Especially if you plan to honeymoon abroad, flights and hotel accommodation are a lot cheaper when booked far in advance. So, book your honeymoon vacation flight and hotel accommodation months in advance, so as to lock in a sweet discount – that way you may even get a honeymoon-abroad for the cost of one in Naija – more like living large on small budget. Get even more discounts by telling the airline and hotel that it’s your honeymoon – some couples have used this simple way to get king-size upgrades on the cost of economy.

2. Buy Wedding Things from the Open Market

Save cost by buying wedding things in the open markets, instead of from some fancy bridal stores. Most stores branded as ‘bridal shops’ are likely to sell you higher costs for some items you can get cheaper in the open markets. Of course, they have to build in their high shop rent and the comfortable air-conditioner you’ll enjoy. So, save big by buying your wedding shoes, accessories, even wedding gown and traditional engagement outfits at the local market instead of fancy malls or shops. And, here’s another secret – when out shopping, don’t mention that the item you’re pricing is for your wedding (if you don’t want the sellers to pile up more money to the price tag). For some reason, the word “wedding” on anything or any shop kind of makes stuff more expensive.

3. Buy Food and Drinks in Bulk and Save Cost

Buy drinks and bottled water in bulk at wholesale pricing – some drink manufacturers or their distributors even offer free ice block cooling drums to people who purchase in bulk for occasions.

4. Take Advantage of Bargains

Find where bargains and discounts are happening and shop. Bargains, discounts and sales can be sweet but don’t get carried away – ensure to buy only the things in your budget. Savvy brides are bargain hunters, snoop around and you’ll hear about where the biggest bridal sales is happening, and you can save as much as 60% on many bridal items and wears, and your guests would think your wedding was really expensive (it’s your secret).

5. Ask for Discount – Everywhere You Go

Ask vendors and wedding shops for discount even if the shop is not having a “sales” or promo.  You’ll be surprised at how they’ll be happy to oblige you. Use your contacts to get things for free or special discounts. Your mom or her friends may personally call up that invitation card printer or rental service provider they have used many times in the past. Ask newly married friends relatives for wedding service providers they used and how much they paid. Here’s another secret: even when you’re buying your honeymoon travel ticket, in the airplane or when booking your honeymoon hotel, announce to them that you’re newly married – you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you’ll get for free.

6. Choose an Already Beautiful Venue and Save Decor Cost

Some venue are so ugly that it would cost too much to decorate it to a presentable standard – and in the end, if you added the venue decoration cost plus the venue rental fee, it would have been cheaper to hire a “seemingly” more expensive venue that didn’t require any decor. So, save on venue decoration by choosing a reception location that has a beautiful setting and ambiance (whether indoor or outdoor), so that you either do not require any or much decoration. Did you know that a cheap wedding venue with a gorgeous setting and lighting looks expensive and makes all your pictures look great.

7. Order a Simple Wedding Cake – They Usually Cost Less

The more flavours and decoration you request in a wedding cake, the more you’ll pay. Leave out the frills such as assorted flavours and fillings and unnecessary cake decoration. Simple is beautiful, when it comes to wedding cakes. Buy a modest size wedding cake (one or 2 tiers only), moderately priced too – and serve guests nice homemade cakes (in a size they’d appreciate, not like cubes of sugar) – you can buy the cake or beg a few talented friends/ family members, who are bake-savvy, to do that for you, as their wedding gift (be sure to buy the baking ingredients they’ll need). You could be lucky to get 3 friends do one big cake each. No need for icing; after all, most guests don’t eat them, anyway.

8. Forget About Doing Wedding Souvenirs

I’ve been to weddings where there was more invited guests than the food served, and there was more than enough souvenirs (wedding favours) that you’d wonder whether “na by force” to belong! Instead use the extra money to giving your guests better food, entertainment and also into getting a more professional wedding photographer and videographer – after the wedding, you’ll want to have the memories well captured to tell the story to your children. So do not economize on getting the services of a professional wedding photographer.

9. Print Invite Cards on Simple, Cheaper Paper

Instead of an expensive fancy invitation card printed on an expensive paper, opt for a simple yet elegant design in a cheap but good quality printing paper. Agreed, some invitation card paper are exquisite and over-the-top, but so are their prices. But again, you know that there are good printers in Nigeria that make great wedding invitation cards with simple, cheaper paper – that you’d swear they were printed abroad. Just spend more time to find a good invitation card vendor, instead of paying too much for some special paper.

10. Cut Down On Your Guest List – According to Your Pocket

Wedding budgeting is simply common sense – small venues cost less; fewer wedding guests mean lower catering cost and cheaper smaller venues. Girl, wake up and do the math! Would you rather have a rowdy wedding with guests complaining about the tight venue and food that didn’t go round; OR would you be practical and invite less than 100 guests that never want to leave (at the close of the party) because they feel your wedding reception was the awesomest they’ve ever been to?

Want More Ways to Save on Wedding Costs?

Just in case you missed the other posts in this series, be sure to read them:

Over to You – What’s Your Tip for Planning a Glam Wedding on a Small Budget?

So, if you’ve always wanted a big-girls wedding since you were age five, but felt it could never happen, now you know how to save costs on the big-girl-wedding-things and still have your wedding the way you dreamed without spending too much. Just so you know, even the rich people use the above tips (secretly), and they call it “being frugal” or wise at spending, and not being stingy.

That’s it for our 10 unique tips for organizing an big, fat Nigerian wedding with small, “chenkele” money. Do you have any money-saving small wedding ideas we can add to our tips above? If so, add them in the comments below.