The only way to know how much your wedding will cost is to make a budget. But, how do you make a budget for a Nigerian wedding or any wedding? I will show you – keep reading.
During planning, making a budget will give you an estimate of how much your wedding will cost, so that you know exactly how much to spend on every detail. Also, making a budget in advance will help you avoid overspending during wedding planning.
Want to start making the wedding budget for your big day? It’s easy and I will teach you.
In this article, I will take you by the hand, step by step through every step of how to budget for every money you will spend on your wedding.
One of the questions I receive every week is on the topic of how to budget for a Nigerian wedding includes: how do I know much will my wedding cost? how to set a wedding budget, how to breakdown the budget, how to track wedding expenses, how to stick to a wedding budget and lots more.
This post provides answers to such questions, and I will also teach you how to budget for your wedding step by step. Scroll down to see our quick 6 step-method of coming off with a wedding budget from scratch.
First, see this wedding budget tutorial from the celebrity wedding planner, Funke Bucknor-Obruthe – and then scroll down to READ our 6 steps on how to budget for any wedding – Nigerian wedding or any type.
The 6 Steps to Making a Wedding Budget
Once you have decided on a figure as your wedding budget, the next thing is to allocate the percentage of that budget to major categories of wedding expenses. Follow along these steps to come up with your own wedding budget breakdown.
Step 1. Set Your Spending Limit (aka Budget)
You can’t make a wedding budget if you don’t know how much you can spend. So, budgeting starts with deciding and saying how much to spend.
Think – set a limit of how much you do not want to exceed. This is simply done by you setting any amount you believe you can afford to spend on your entire wedding event – the church/ religious ceremony + the reception.
For Nigerians, you may want to include your traditional wedding budget here, but it may be a good idea to do that separate from your white wedding budget.
So, write down an amount for the maximum money you (have and) want to spend on your entire wedding. This is your total wedding budget.
NOTE: I’m talking of the money you ALREADY HAVE in your own bank account. Please do not include money you plan to borrow from someone. Do not include money someone has promised you.
A wedding budget is like making a grocery list or the usual list every woman writes out before going to shop for food items. You first check how much money you have, make the list and write prices, total up the costs and take things out here and there to ensure that you can focus on buying what your money can afford. Making a wedding budget is similar.
You only make a grocery list when you have the money ready and ready to go to the market, right? Same with wedding budgeting.
Wait till you have the money or budget with the amount you already have and find a way to make it work – BECAUSE even small-money weddings can turn out well, if well-managed.
YOUR ACTION ITEM/ ASSIGNMENT: Now, set your own maximum wedding cost or spending limit (aka budget)
Step 2. Do an Expense Categories Breakdown and Allocate Costs
You can go straight to doing a complete list of expenses, but first doing a wedding budget breakdown by expense categories will help you stay within budget and not overspend.
A simple way is to use percentages to allocate costs to each expense category. We created a free wedding budget percentage allocation guide to give you a breakdown of how much to allocate to each expense category.
I’ll guide you on the steps:
- Categorise or group your wedding expenses
- List the Major Expense Categories in a Nigerian Wedding: I already did that for you, to save you time. You can copy and use it. Feel free to add or remove from the list to suit your needs.
- Food and drinks
- Venue hire, decoration and rentals
- Couple’s outfits & accessories
- Stationeries & souvenirs
- Entertainment & photography
- Miscellaneous Expenses
- Allocate a percentage or how much of your wedding budget you want to spend under the various wedding expense categories. To save you time, below is our guide of sample wedding expense categories and budget percentages allocation guide based on our updated wedding budget breakdown and calculator page. This is a guide to get you started, but feel free to change up things to suit your needs.
- Food and drinks – 38%
- Venue hire, decoration and rentals – 20%
- Couple’s outfits & accessories – 12%
- Stationeries & souvenirs – 5%
- Entertainment & photography – 20%
- Miscellaneous Expenses – 5%
- Add up the costs you allocated to each expense category. This total should be the same as the overall budget you set.
TOOLS: You can do this with paper and pen in your wedding notebook or use an online app like GoogleDoc/ Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
Here’s an example of how I start by making a wedding budget breakdown into expense categories:
(For example) Assuming you set a budget of N200,000 to spend for your wedding, my initial breakdown by wedding expenses categories could look like this:
- Wedding attire (bride + groom): N48,000.00
- Stationery + Souvenir: N12,000.00
- Venue + Decor N36,000.00
- Wedding Reception N42,000.00
- Entertainment N28,000.00
- Miscellaneous (just in case) N34,000.00 (In a later step, explained why you should have this)
- Total Wedding Budget: N200,000.00 (confirm that this total is the same as your overall budget).
YOUR ACTION ITEM: Use the same wedding expense categories and format in the above example to do your initial wedding budget breakdown.
- I used our NaijaGlamWedding budget calculator to give me the above breakdown. It’s faster and automatic – doesn’t require pressing a calculator. Feel free to use it – it’s free and you can download it here ==> free Nigerian wedding budget calculator.
Step 3: Make a Detailed Itemized Expense List (of Things to Spend Money On)
It’s important to know exactly how much you want to pay for every single wedding thing or vendor service before you go out. Planning your budget down to the exact cost of each item will save you time so that you can pay for things right away, without needing to go back home to decide.
Now, you’ll want to make a detailed itemized list of what to spend your wedding budget on. Think about what you need under each of the wedding expense categories you listed in the step above.
In this step, you’re going to expand on what you have in each expense category that you listed above. Itemize your needs one by one to come up with your complete list of the expenses.
For example, you will want to make a list of everything (expenses) you plan to spend under wedding attire – such as wedding gown, shoes etc. You also want to list what to spend your wedding reception budget on – such as wedding cake, food, drinks, small chops etc. I hope you get the idea?
What are the things that make up a wedding budget? If you don’t know what to budget for, I already made you a ready-made sample Nigerian wedding expenses list template with a list of must-have things to budget for in a Nigerian style wedding.
YOUR ACTION ITEM: Itemize your own complete list of wedding expenses. You can do it on paper or use a computer program (Excel or Word), or GoogleDoc/ Google Sheets, depending on the one you’re comfortable with. If you have a wedding notebook, there’s a specified for listing your budget.
Step 4: Reserve Some Funds for Miscellaneous Expenses
The reality is that there will be a thing or two that you forgot to budget for when making your complete list of expenses. According to one of our married readers (ZainMum), you will always spend more than what you have budgeted. She is right, but having Miscellaneous Expenses in advance can help you avoid overspending.
The whole purpose of making a budget is to avoid making extra unbudgeted expenses. We know that some unplanned expenses always come up, so keep a part of your budget to handle that. Your reserved fund under ‘Miscellaneous Expenses’ is where you’ll be drawing money from for anything that arises.
I strongly recommend that couples set aside some money to take care of any forgotten expense(s) or sudden unplanned unbudgeted expenses that may arise later. This is known as ‘Miscellaneous Expenses’ and should be the last item on your list of wedding expenses. It should be carved out from your overall wedding budget (you can see it in the sample wedding expense categories breakdown in a previous step).
How much should you reserve for Miscellaneous Expenses? You can reserve between 5% and 10% of your wedding budget for unexpected or miscellaneous expenses.
Your wedding budget is not complete and useless if you don’t set aside money for Miscellaneous Expenses. If you do not do this, you’re likely to get to a point when something that’s not on your list needs to be bought and paid for. And you’ll be surprised and stressed, running around looking for where to borrow extra money or dip hands into your savings, which is not advisable.
YOUR ACTION ITEM: Add “Miscellaneous Expenses’ in the expense list that you made in the previous step.
Step 5: Market Price Research – Find the Actual Cost of Things in the Market
You want a realistic and accurate budget and not one whereby you’ll get to the market or want to pay for a venue or vendor and be surprised that it’s more expensive than you budgeted. That means you’re going to go out and get the real price of things, no estimating and no guessing.
So, you need to know how much things actually cost. Do not guest the price of any item. To use accurate prices in your wedding budget, you should do a market price research. This exercise can be done in a week or more, as there are a lot of expenses to research prices for.
Here’s what to do in this step:
- Print out your complete list of wedding expenses, which you made in a previous step
- Go out to the market and stores that sell the things you listed and make price inquiries.
- Visit venues and vendors to get price quotation
- Use emails, phone calls, WhatsApp messages, Facebook and Instagram DMs (Direct Messages) to make preliminary contacts with venues, vendors and some stores
- Write down the prices (in your notebook or in a note app on your phone or wherever you choose).
- When you get home, write or enter the prices into your wedding expenses spreadsheet or page in your wedding notebook.
- Also, make a note of shop address and contact numbers – you’ll need them when you want to go shopping.
- Write down the price of each item in your expense list. Keep a note of alternative prices (up to three price variations for each item) in case the need arises to cut cost or there’s room to buy a more expensive version of a thing. I explained more about why and how to do this in my post on How to Avoid Spending Over Your Budget.
- Add up the individual prices and see if the overall total equals your wedding budget amount or is less.
- If you have a total cost higher than your set wedding budget, you need to review things by picking lower-priced versions of some things, then total up again and see if you’re within budget.
Once the total cost of the expenses in your list is not over your set budget, you can start going to shop and book venue and vendors. That’s how to make a realistic wedding budget that works.
YOUR ACTION ITEM: Add prices against each item in your wedding expense list. These are your budgeted costs.
Step 6: Record and Track Your Expenses
So, at this stage, you’ve set a budget, made an expense breakdown, done a market price research and have a realistic expense list that is within your budget.
If you don’t know much you have spent, you can’t know when you have overspent. In the previous step, you got your budgeted cost after doing a market price research, and in this step, you’re going to tracking your expenses in order to make your budget work for you and help you stick to it.
This exercise will help you identify where you are overspending so that you can adjust before you spend above your overall wedding budget. You’ll also be able to know exactly how much is left to use for the remaining things. By tracking your expenses, you’ll never be one of those brides or grooms that wake up one day ad say ‘I didn’t know there’s not enough money left to do X or Y’.
Once you start shopping and paying for wedding services, you have to record every single money that goes out. This is important because as you go out shopping and hiring venue and vendors, the reality is that some prices may change slightly (higher or lower) and you want to know where you are on your money – at every point in time. You don’t have to go to the bank to know how much of your wedding budget you have spent, how much you have left or whether you’ve almost used all the money you budgeted.
STEPS: Here’s how to track your wedding expenses:
- Every single time you buy something or pay someone for a wedding service, write it down – what you spent on and how much
- Write down the actual amount you paid out for each item – call this ‘actual cost’;
- Record the actual cost next to the budgeted cost in your notebook, preferably in a spreadsheet (Google Sheets online or Microsoft Excel);
- Make a note of the actual minus budgeted cost, for each item. Did you spend an exact amount, more or less? If you spent more than you budgeted, you need to watch it.
- Add up all your actual costs (actual amounts already spent) – this is your total actual cost
- What is your total budget minus total actual cost? If it is lower than your total budget, you’re doing good
That’s how to track your wedding expenses to find out whether you’re within budget. Watch the video below for more.
YOUR ACTION ITEM/ ASSIGNMENT: Make a list of your wedding expenses with a note of the budgeted and actual costs of all the items.
The video tutorial below from Wura Manola (a Nigerian UK-based wedding planner) validates what I’ve been teaching here on how to make a trackable wedding budget list, and how to cut your coat according to your size when planning a Naija wedding (WATCH it – step 6 is down below).
Step 7: Look at Other People’s Sample Wedding Budgets for Ideas
If you’re like most brides and grooms, you want to see a sample wedding budget. Okay, click here to SEE and download 5 different examples of Nigerian wedding budgets.
Final Thoughts on Budgeting For a Wedding
In the wedding planning process, the budget is one of the very first things to do right after your engagement, and after choosing a wedding date.
The wrong way to wedding planning is to start from looking for a reception venue and vendors or shopping for your D-day things. That usually leads to overspending and later having to manage small left-over change for the rest of the wedding. It’s best to never spend a kobo until you’ve made a wedding budget.
Some couples start with a budget but end up spending more than they planned. To know how to stay on-budget, follow my steps on how to avoid overspending during wedding planning.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope that the above steps help you organize your wedding budget and figure out how much your wedding will cost.
- Your Next Steps: Once your wedding budget is set, it’s time for you to start the wedding planning proper – use our white wedding planning check-list of things to do, and our trad wedding planning to-do list.
- In case you still have questions on this topic of budgeting, check out my answers on common questions about budgeting for a wedding.
Tips & Ideas to Make a Small Budget Work
We’ve got your back, check out our tips and advice for how to use small money to plan a wow Nigerian wedding:
- All Our Tips on Planning Small Budget Weddings and How to Save Cost
- 19 Practical Tips for Planning an Inexpensive Wedding in Nigeria
- 9 Smart Ideas to Save Costs When Planning a Nigerian Wedding on a Small Budget
- How to Plan Small Wedding in Nigeria and Still Wow Your Guests (Part 1)
- Unique Ideas to Plan a Big-Girls Wedding with Small Money
- Low-Key Wedding: How to Plan a Great Low-Key Wedding In Nigeria (part 2 small wedding planning)
- Simple Ideas to Reduce Cost of a Wedding without Reducing the Quality
So, over to you – let me know in the comments: where you are with working out how much your Nigerian wedding will cost? Did like the 6 step tutorial (above) to making a wedding budget to estimate the cost of your wedding in Nigeria?