How do you plan a wedding in Nigeria? That’s what this post is going to answer, and most importantly, give you a roadmap.
The wedding planning roadmap below is our way of holding your hand and taking you step-by-step through what to do from start to finish. You’ll also find my answers to common questions brides ask.
Scroll down for the step by step process of planning a wedding in Nigeria, from start to finish (18 steps only).
If you just got engaged, congratulations! And if you’re ready to start planning your wedding but unsure of where and how to start, let me help you – like, literally hold your hand through the process.
Weddings in Nigeria are like no other. Therefore, the planning process is a little different from how to plan weddings abroad.
On this side of the World, it’s ‘the more, the merrier’, multiple weddings (trad, court registry wedding and the white wedding) and a slew of things that make planning a Nigerian wedding uniquely different from any other.
First, what do you need to plan for a wedding? You’ll need 6 things:
- The man (groom) or woman (bride), obviously;
- Money to cover wedding shopping and vendors’ fees;
- Planning logistics/ arrangements;
- A checklist to keep you organized;
- People to help you (because no one plans it alone);
- Time to do the running around or a hired wedding planner to do the running around for you.
The usual next question is ‘how do I plan a Nigerian wedding?’. I’ll show you. Now, let’s get right into the detailed wedding planning list of to-do activities, step by step. It’s just 18 steps from start to ‘I Do’.
18 Steps to Planning a Wedding in Nigeria
1. Articulate your Wedding Vision
After every marriage proposal, we often hear brides-to-be say they mentally dream about their own weddings; they’re literally planning it in their head. After their engagement, nearly every woman starts envisioning how her wedding day will look and feel.
Once you decide to start planning the wedding, it’s time to gather those ideas and inspiration on a vision board, as that helps your potential wedding planner and vendors ‘get into your head’ and take it from there.
Our favourite ways for brides to articulate their wedding vision include Pinterest and Instagram. All you need to do is to just collate pictures that represent how you want your wedding to be, from the wedding cake, venue decoration, wedding dress, groom’s suit, your makeup and hairstyle, your bridesmaid dress and more.
You can also collate magazine cut-outs to build your wedding day vision.
It’s important to be on the same page with your future husband/ wife when starting to plan a wedding, and I highly recommend our Pre-Wedding-Planning Questionnaire for Couples.
2. Make a Wedding Planning To-do List or checklist
You need a dedicated notebook or binder to do this – call it your wedding planning notebook.
Get a fresh notebook for writing down your wedding plans – the date, budget, guest count, wedding colour scheme, aso-ebi colour combos and more.
You need a clean notebook to quickly refer to anything regarding your proposed wedding. Call this little notebook your ‘wedding planning notebook‘ or ‘wedding planning journal’.
- See All Our Wedding Planning Checklists (to-do lists) in our Wedding Planning Tools Page AND on our All-In-One Page for our Wedding Templates, Checklists and Worksheets
3. Decide on the Timeline of Your Weddings
Decide on How Many Days/ Weeks Apart, between your Marriage Introduction ceremony, traditional wedding date, court and white wedding date (same day or how?)
4. Set a Date (Timeline) each for the traditional, court wedding and/ or a white wedding
Allow at least 3 months to plan it. Consider the season – rainy, sunny, December weddings/ public holiday season.
Decide on how long from now (timeframe) when you want to have a traditional wedding and when you want to have a white wedding. Do you prefer to have the events around the same week/ day or how far apart would you like to have them?
Usually, the traditional wedding happens first. You shouldn’t sweat over picking a perfect date, you can simply pick 1 to 3 potential dates to start planning towards.
Just start planning and once you start talking to your venue and vendors, eventually, you’ll narrow down to a date. Be sure to read our post on everything to consider when picking a date.
- RELATED: Wedding in 3 Months (Planning Checklist)
- Wedding in 12 Months (Planning Checklist)
- Wedding in 6 Months (Planning Checklist)
- Wedding in 1-Month (Planning Checklist)
After choosing a date, be sure to find out if this date is available for your venue (church/ mosque/ court, reception venue), the parents, important relatives, VIP guests, and your vendors. Run the date by them and adjust is need be.
5. Set a Budget (i.e. Total Cost of Wedding)
How much are you looking to spend on the wedding? Guess, think. Check your bank account to know how much you have, and fix a wedding budget that is not above your bank balance.
So, keep in mind that you’re not expected to blow everything on a one-day wedding event. Follow our tips on how to avoid overspending your wedding budget.
Also, make an item-by-item list of wedding expenses (things and services you would spend money on). After that, research how much each item costs in the market, and write the prices next to each item on the list.
As you do this, keep checking the total amount to make sure it is not above the overall wedding budget. After making a budget, next is to do a wedding budget breakdown and expense allocation.
- See Different Sample Wedding Budget and Expenses (from Other People’s Weddings)
- Wedding List of Things to Buy and Budget
- Pre-Wedding-Planning Quiz for Engaged Couples (to help you flesh out event details, and look and feel of the wedding)
- 9 Tips to Save Costs on Your Nigerian Wedding
6. Start Saving Towards the Wedding Cost
Once the wedding date is set, you should start saving for the wedding. I always recommend opening a dedicated account for this purpose.
Check how much you already have in your your savings, and set a timeframe within which you can save up remaining or total required amount. You also need a solid plan of action to help you achieve your savings goal in the least amount of time. I explained more in our post on 7-step plan to save up for a wedding).
- Depending on how long to the wedding date and how big you want the wedding to be, put aside between 20% and 30% of your monthly salary for the next 6 months to one year. The further away the wedding date is. Save more if your planned wedding date is earlier than 9 to 12 months.
- ALSO, depending on your taste for the type of venue and vendors to use, and how big you want the wedding, you’ll need to save more than 30% every month.
- Some couples agree for both partners to save up. In some cases, the groom-to-be is financially stable and doesn’t need the bride to contribute towards major wedding expenses.
7. Involve the Parents
Inform and Involve the Parents (bride’s and groom’s parents) when you start planning your customary Marriage Introduction and Traditional Marriage.
You need to inquire of their availability with regards to dates and how to go about traditional wedding rites.
Also, inquire from the bride’s parents about the Traditional Engagement List. You also want to find out if your desired wedding date will work for them. If not, choose another date that works for you and them.
- Nigerian Traditional Marriage Planning Checklist
- Traditional Engagement List and Bride Price => Yoruba Engagement List | Igbo Engagement/ Marriage List | Edo (Esan) Engagement List
This guest count should guide you on the size of the venue to look for, and the quantity of food and drinks required.
Caterers charge by per plate of food, and so will ask you for the number of guests to know how much to charge you for catering.
- READ MORE: How to Reduce Your Guest List to Fit Your Wedding Budget
- Hire a wedding planner if you won’t have time to do the legwork.
9. Find a Ceremony Location (Church/ worship house/ Court)
Confirm the availability of your wedding date with them. If your desired date is not available, choose an alternative date that will work for all parties.
10. Book a Reception Venue
Find a venue that is not far from the church/ worship house/ court registry (observe whether you will have to bring in hired chairs and tables.
Also, observe what the existing venue colours and setting and layout are, as that should be put into consideration when you choose decor colour combo.
11. Start Attending Marriage Counselling
Register for and start marriage counselling sessions with your church/ worship house.
12. Look for Suitable Wedding Vendors
Browse venues and vendors listings and ask people you know for contacts of vendors (caterer, photographer, cake baker, DJ/ live band, venue decorator, couple’s outfit stores, etc.).
- RELATED: Where and How to Find Capable Nigerian Wedding Vendors
- How to Find and Choose a Professional Quality Wedding Photographer
- How to Find and Choose a Competent Makeup Artist
13. Choose Your Wedding Party
Your wedding party is made up of your bridesmaids and groomsmen.
- Bridesmaids’ Roles and Responsibility (Checklist)
- Chief Bridesmaid and Bridesmaid Dress Style Trends
- Wedding Suits for Grooms and Groomsmen
- Latest Flower Girls Dress and Hair Styles
Colours are a big part of weddings. While picking your colour combos, you should also start shopping for the bride and groom’s wedding attire and accessories, and sew the ones you want to cut and sew.
15. Print and Send out Wedding Invitation Cards
You should start sending out invitations any time between 6 weeks and two months to the wedding, to allow enough time for guests to prepare (make out time and buy and sew wedding guest aso-ebi).
Be sure to read our answers to questions about invitation card planning.
16. Plan the Honeymoon
It’s time to research honeymoon destinations and booking flights, transportation and hotel accommodation. I always advise that couples reserve some money for a honeymoon, which doesn’t have to be abroad and so doesn’t have to cost a lot.
If you have any questions on this topic, read our answers on common honeymoon questions couples ask.
If you don’t know where to go for honeymoon, get inspired by honeymoon stories from other couples – where they went, what they did there, what they enjoyed and what they didn’t enjoy.
17. Attend Your Pre-Wedding Parties
Show up at your bridal shower (bride) and bachelor’s ever (groom).
18. Day of the Wedding
Dress up, look pretty and have fun!
- How to Deal With Wedding Anxiety and Stress
- Many Ways to Cut Down Wedding Costs in Nigeria
- Common Wedding Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
FAQs: A Step by Step Roadmap to Planning a Wedding in Nigeria
How long does it take to plan a Nigerian wedding? Most Nigerians take between six and twelve months; a few percentages of engaged couples choosing to get married within 3 months of planning the wedding. This pattern is also consistent with couples whose real weddings we featured.
What should your budget be when planning a wedding? You should budget about 40% on food and drinks. Find the rest of the breakdown percentages in our Nigerian wedding budget calculator.
How do you plan a small wedding? When planning a small wedding, keep the details or checklist of to-do very minimal.
Also, you’ll want to track your spendings to ensure you keep to your budget. For the rest of the tips, read our post on that topic.
How do you organize a simple wedding? To plan a simple wedding, simplify the guest list, the menu and food options; simplify your wedding attire; simplify the decor.
Start by making sure to invite very few guests (50 or fewer guests is simple; more than that is not).
You also want to do as much as possible yourself – well, I mean in-house by having your friends and family help (e.g. cook food, bake the cake, make chin-chin, samosa, puff-puff etc).
Don’t stress about buying your wedding gown – it can be rented/ hired and his wedding suit made cut-and-sew. For the rest of the tips, read our low-key wedding planning guide for Nigerian couples.
Action Steps: How to Plan a Wedding in Nigeria
Planning a Nigerian wedding, or any wedding at all, is all about the details, the logistics, and being organized.
The process is stressful, more so if it’s a big wedding or the timing is short. Some brides get wedding anxiety and stress at the mere thought of where to start planning.
The step by step planning process I gave you above will keep you organized so that you’ll never be clueless as to what’s next to do.
For the logistics, you obviously, you need people to help you execute the things you need to do.
Don’t be shy to ask others for help – thankfully, in Nigeria, there are loads of aunties, siblings, and cousins ready to help plan a wedding. Ask away!
If you are too busy to make out time and can afford a professional wedding planner, by all means, do so. If you’re not sure, definitely take our test to find out whether a wedding planner will be right for you.
If you choose to plan it yourself, be sure to print out the above Nigerian wedding planning list of tasks to do.
That’s all the steps involved with planning a wedding in Nigeria. Thanks for reading.
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Did I forget anything? Is so, tell me about it. Or just comment below to let me know your thoughts on the process of planning a Nigerian wedding.