How to Plan Small Wedding in Nigeria and Still Wow Your Guests (Part 1)

Small, intimate weddings with less than 100 guests – such as Toke Makinwa and Stephanie Okereke’s intimate celebrity weddings – are becoming common in Nigeria. The advantages of keeping a wedding small and intimate are many. By the way, did you know that having fewer wedding guests can result to a quality, personal wedding celebration and an opportunity to spend your budget on the things that matter most to you, while down-playing or skipping others, and also giving your guests the best time. In this post, I’ll show you how you to organize a classy, low-key wedding that will wow your guests.

bride in wedding gown facing groom in dark wedding suit
Image: Courtesy of Adebayo Deru Wedding Photographer

Here are 7 small wedding ideas to help you organize an intimate but classy Nigerian-style wedding with fewer guests:

In a previous article, I told you that there are 2 different types of small weddings – and why you need to be clear on which type you want have, in order to get your planning right. Once you know the type of small Nigerian wedding you want, follow the steps below to plan it:

#1. Set the Wedding Date

You need to have this date at the back of your mind when renting venue, shopping or hiring vendors – everything must be done and completed in good time, before this date. Most brides get stressed because of the rush when their wedding date is close by and a lot has not been done. So. it helps starting right after the marriage proposal/ engagement.

#2. Keep the Parents Informed Early

Every Nigerian parent has been looking forward to that day when they would call everyone they know to the wedding ceremony of their child – you know, they love it the-bigger-the-merrier. So, it can be hard convincing a Nigerian parent that their son/ daughter wants to have few wedding guests – why would anyone want to deprive them of the joy of sharing a family celebration with plenty, which had always been the ‘tradition’. To avoid, or reduce, protests from close families, and also ensure that they cut down their guest list, it is advised that you let both families (bride’s and groom’s) know ahead of time that you want a small intimate wedding.

#3: Keep Your Budget Small

Make a spending budget, but keep it small. Prioritize your expenses by spending the most money on the things that matter most to you, and spend the least money on other not-so-important areas – that’s how to have the wedding you’ve always dreamed of, on a small budget. For example: if your top priority is having a designer gown and you’re least concerned about bringing a music band, then you may want to splurge on the designer wedding dress and then hire a DJ instead of a band. Another example: if your top priority is having a World class wedding photographer cover your big day, and you’d rather use your father’s backyard as the wedding venue, then by all means do so. It’s all about splurging on your top priority and keeping other areas low key. Remember, it’s not appropriate to cut corners when it comes to catering for your guests.

#4. Stick to Your Budget

When it’s time to start shopping and hiring vendors, stick to your budget – cut out any unnecessary unplanned expense item.

To keep your budget small, skip the unnecessary extras. For example: make a simple wedding cake with one or two tiers instead of a very tall cake. You may want to forget about wedding souvenirs, cut out having a music band – instead hire a professional DJ – it’s cheaper. You may also want to have a photographer, but no videographer. Forget about having wedding reception dress changes – wear your wedding gown for both the church ceremony and reception. Simply focus on giving your guests a good venue, great food and pleasant music.

#4. Keep the Guest List Small

Isn’t it obvious that a small wedding would keep the number of guests small – and expenses lower? After all, why do they call it “small” wedding? So, working backwards from your set budget, you can easily determine how many guests you can afford to feed.

It’s okay to keep the guest list to immediate family only, especially if you (bride and groom) have a large extended family. When planning a small Nigerian wedding, it can be hard to decide who and who to invite/ not invite, use the tips in this post for the simple rules to follow when trimming a guest list. Be aware that you can’t successfully keep away all uninvited guests, but you can try – don’t be alarmed if some show up.

#5. Strategize on How to Limit Unwanted Guests

In Nigeria, weddings are traditionally an invite-everyone affairs. Even if your invitation card reads “strictly-by-invite”, you’re bound to have uninvited guests. And, if you have more wedding guests than planned, you risk having the food get finished – and even some of your important guests may not get food (while the uninvited may have been served first). So, you need to figure out a way to keep unwanted guests away.

  • Some options to limit the number of uninvited guests include: hiring some mean-looking bouncers, locating your wedding venue far away from your/ your parents’ home – that means, a day before the wedding, you (bride and groom) have to move in to hotel rooms close to the wedding venue, to ensure that you and your bridesmaids and groomsmen are not late to the wedding.
  • Other ways to limit uninvited guests include fixing the wedding date on a week day or not-on-a-public-holiday, having a destination wedding in beautiful Dubai (in another Nigerian state or abroad).

#6. Book a Low-Cost Wedding Venue

Once you’ve made your budget and know the maximum number of guests you want to invite, start searching for a suitable venue that is within your budget and not too big or too small for the guests you’re expecting. If you’re on a budget, low-cost wedding venue options include: to rent a cheap but nice outdoor garden, or a community hall or any other cheap venue. If you have a big backyard, you may even consider having your wedding reception at your backyard – or ask a family friend or relative for permission to use their spacious backyard. To keep the wedding venue decoration cost low, find a hall that requires minimal decoration or a beautiful outdoor venue with beautiful, natural scenery.

#7. Be Honest with Friends

With small weddings, you can’t possibly invite all your friends and office colleagues. You bet, the uninvited among them will feel hurt and bitter, but it’s best to be honest when asked about it – let your friends know that you are keeping the wedding very small and limiting the invitation to close family.

Finally, A Dream Wedding Is Possible If You Keep It Small

So, there you have it for our top 7 tips for planning a small wedding in Nigeria. Make sure to read the part 2 here and also read part 3.

On a general note, with a small wedding guest list, you should be able to have your dream wedding, celebrity style. The less money you spend renting a bigger venue and feeding lots of people, the more extras you’ll have to splurge on the things that matter most to you. For instance, you can choose to spend the savings to buy that designer wedding dress, rent that gorgeous venue, hire that amazing wedding band.

Did I forget any small wedding planning ideas, add it in the comment below.

About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.


  1. Hi Stella, thank you for your post. I’m really looking at having a low-key, small but classy wedding in November(because the rains are over then). I need ideas on the important things to get at the early stage like type of boxes, items to be in them etc.
    Thank you

  2. Kemisola says

    My name is Kemi am about to get married but the problem now is I was told to have a mini wedding engagement which will b done in a sitting room and a court wedding but dont know aw to plan this

    • Hello Kemi, and Congrats. Thanks for reading and for your question. It’s similar to planning a wedding, but really scaled down and can be planned in a week or less, or a few more weeks, if it’s going to be bigger than a sitting-room arangement. Here’s a sample checklist:
      Fix a date > Decide location > Decide how many guests AND write down names of people to invite > Food & Drinks: what will you serve + who and who will cook OR which caterer to use OR where will you order the food >Notify caterers or helpers of the day > Notify guests via text or whatsapp or call or Invitations > Decide what to wear and get outfits ready > Book a photographer for the day (a professional and/ or friends/ family).

      Hope that helps.

  3. Kemisola says

    My name is Kemi am about to get married but the problem now is I was told to have a mini wedding engagement which will b done in a sitting room and a court wedding wedding but dont know aw to plan this

    • Hello Kemi, you didn’t tell me whether the two events would be same day, or not. Well, let me assume they would, as that is how most couples do it. If so, you’d be having one single reception party for both the Court wedding and the engagement.
      >In that case, the sitting-room-size wedding engagement does not require any special preparation – just plan to have food and drinks for the small number of people there.
      >For the combined reception party, it’s still same planning steps like any other wedding, starting with you SETTING a BUDGET (how much do you want to spend for it).
      >Next is to make a list of things to spend the money on – usual things are outfits, photo and video coverage, MC, DJ, venue decoration, food and drinks, wedding cake, venue (See our full list of usual expenses during wedding planning).
      >Once you have your list, next is to allocate an amount limit on each item -to guide you not spend your whole money on a few things only. A rough idea is to spend half of your total wedding money on your outfits/ fashion, photo/ video coverage, MC, DJ or Live Music band, venue decoration, bride’s hair and makeup.
      >Allocate the other half to Catering (food and drinks), Venue, Wedding Cake and Invitation cards (you may even text out the invites if the guest number is very few)..
      You did not tell me how much you have to spend for the Court wedding reception party, but if it’s small, you should feel free to take out some unnecessary expenses that do not apply. For example, if you would use your backyard, then, you’ve got extra savings. If you’ll use a friend for MC and/ or DJ, that’s extra savings for you.

      Hope that helps.

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