There is no reason to be ashamed of having an affordable wedding, but some brides are. While it’s great to have a lot of money to splurge at your wedding, sometimes size doesn’t matter. We’ve seen expensive weddings that look cheap, and inexpensive weddings that look expensive.
What makes the difference is the ‘planning’. With proper planning, you can have an amazing wedding. In this post, I’ll give you 19 practical ideas that you can implement to plan an inexpensive wedding that looks rich. Read on!
The ideas in this post are all about being realistic and matching your wedding taste or dreams to your budget. This post assumes that you have a limited supply of cash and are looking for how to make your money work, without looking outside.
The tips and advice in this post have worked for many of our friends and readers, and can also work for you. Now, let’s dive right in!
Things to Do When Planning an Inexpensive Wedding in Nigeria
1. Put Your Dreams and Visions on Paper
You may already have a vision or idea of what you want – the dress, the colours, the fabrics, the fashion designers to hire, etc). To help you flesh out your wedding style and dreams, I made a pre-wedding planning questionnaire for couples – highly recommended. This will help you draw up a wedding style and buying list.
It’s easy to do things in a scattered manner, which can lead to overspending, loss of focus and delay. You need to know what to do at every point in time, and also have a clear view of your spending, just like pro wedding planners do.
There are some tools for that, and you can get them here on NaijaGlamWedding. So be sure to have a to-do list or wedding checklist to keep you organized – we have ready-made wedding planning tools you can print and use right away.
3. Have a Maximum Spending Goal – Make an Overall Budget and an Expense Breakdown List
You need a way to get an estimate of what your total wedding will cost. You also want to do a wedding budget breakdown to help you allocate the overall budget to different expenses before spending a dime. This is only to guide you not to overspend your limit.
After that, make a list of your wedding wants and needs, do a market survey/ window shopping and also use the internet to scout prices of products and vendor fees. Then add up the costs to get an overview of what your wedding will cost. We have a sample list of typical things to buy for a Nigerian wedding that you copy and use.
4. Trim Down Your ‘Taste’ and Slash the Size of Your Dream
First, check the size of your wedding dream/ vision vs your wedding budget. If there’s a mismatch, especially if your budget cannot fund the size and/ or class of wedding in your head, you gotta do something fast. If you’ve got your eyes on wedding styles and fashion from Instagram trends, girl, ask yourself if your budget can fund it.
I can’t say it enough ‘be realistic’ and if your wedding taste and dreams are bigger than your pocket, wake up to reality and trim things down to make it work. Just follow our steps in this post and the one where I explained 10 things to make a small wedding look expensive.
Some Nigerian couples want weddings that are bigger than their pockets, and will borrow to have it. Imagine a bride telling me that they have N200k and she wants to have 300 guests and does not want to use an open-field as a wedding reception venue. How is that possible in this present Nigeria?
5. Be Realistic – Can You Really Afford Your Wedding Budget?
What do the numbers say (from the calculation/ adding)? Compare that with the amount you have already – can you really, really afford that cost? If not, move on to the next step. If you can, fire on to execution (hiring vendors, buying things).
Since we’re talking of ‘wedding on a budget’ here, I assume that your initial wedding estimate is higher than the amount you already have.
6. Slash Your Number of Guests (here’s why)
By cutting down the number of guests to invite, you will spend less money on catering (food and drinks). If you slash the number of guests to invite, you’ll see that your estimated wedding cost will go down.
You can keep doing this until you get to reach the cost estimate within your means. Gone are the days when people bragged about how plenty their guests were. All that doesn’t matter anymore.
People want to know how classy your wedding is, and not necessarily how big? Who should you invite and who should you not invite? In a previous post, I explained all that, and you can read more about that here => how to cut down the number of guests.
For example, if you planned to invite 300 guests, slash that number to 200 and calculate how much the cost has come down. If you planned to rent a 300-seating capacity venue, hire a 200-seating capacity hall which is less expensive; (also cut down your guest count to match it).
If you asked the caterer and small chops woman to give you cost quotation for 300 plates of food and drinks, and that number of finger foods, cut the number down and tell her to make it for 200 people. If you budgeted souvenirs for 300 people, adjust it for 200 guests and see how the cost will come down.
Imagine how much extra money you can save by doing those small steps I gave in the example? That’s a very easy way to reduce expenses during wedding planning and not reduce quality. You can find more cost-saving ideas like that in these articles (below):
- 9 Smart Ways to Save Cost During Wedding Planning
- 9 Simple Things to Do to Cut Wedding Cost Without Cutting Quality
7. Don’t Rely on Promised Money
I always tell couples to not rely on any promise of money because they may disappoint you. We have heard stories of promise-and-fail that ruined weddings. Plan a small, classy wedding within your budget, and if you’re lucky, any money comes later, you can channel that towards paying for your first rental apartment together or honeymoon expenses.
The mindset that a wedding is better if the number of guests is what drives many Nigerian couples to depend on begging and borrowing money to get married. Sometimes, this dream money either comes after the wedding or does not come at all. So, plan with what you have in hand. If any promised money comes later, use it to better your married lives.
We’ve seen many 50-guest weddings that beat 400-guest weddings and gave guests the best party experience. That should be your goal, rather than numbers. Small is the new big, with weddings.
My point is that you should figure out how to plan a classy wedding on the budget you can afford. That includes figuring out how many guests that budget can afford.
- How to Save Money for a Nigerian Wedding (7-Step Plan)
- How to Ask Nigerian Parents for Wedding Money (with Sample Wordings)
8. Set a Timeline to Save for It
Find out how much you already have and how much more you need to complete the overall amount (budget) you set. Decide whether one of you will fund the entire wedding or whether you’ll split the cost. If both of you are going to fund the wedding, agree on how much each of you is contributing towards the required amount.
Another way is to split the list of wedding things to buy and vendor services between both of you and agree on who will pay for what. While you’re on this, find out if your parents are willing to support you with some of that amount.
9. Save Something Every Month Towards Your Wedding
You can create a new bank account nicknamed ‘my wedding fund’. Commit to transferring the money at the end of every month or before the 3rd of the next month.
10. Fix a Far-Away Date to Give yourself time to Save Enough Money
11. Use Some Old-Like-New Things You Already Have
You’ll be okay by wearing some of your lightly-worn fashion accessories, such as shoes. Shoes don’t show through a long wedding gown, by the way, and so no one will know.
12. Borrow Fashion Accessories You’ll Only Use Once
Borrow (from a big Aunty or your mom) accessories such as native beaded necklace, gold chains and bracelet. You won’t be the first to do it, many Nigerian brides have done it and may do it.
13. Borrow a Free Venue or Rent an Inexpensive Open-Space
With the help of a talented venue decorator, you can transform any open-space to a beautiful wedding venue. Consider spaces such as gardens, open-fields, school fields. If your parents or their friends have a spacious backyard, beg them to use it.
However, ensure to find a good venue decorator that will do up the venue and arrange the seats and tables in a way that transforms the venue. Research the internet for ideas of simple but beautiful open-field wedding decorations and seating styles you can show to your decorator.
14. Do Some Things In-house
It’s less expensive to do some things in-house if you have the skills or have relatives who do. For example, consider baking the wedding cake you’ll serve guests (which don’t need to be iced) and small chops like samosa and spring rolls.
If you have one or two nice relatives or friends who are good with baking, you’re in luck. If you’re a crafty DIY bride, you may even be able to do your cake yourself, help relatives with making chin-chin and small chops. I have seen some brides do it, as a way to save cost – you too can, even if you have to learn in advance.
- SEE: How to Make Party Doughnuts from Scratch
- How to Make Samosa at Home
- How to Make Spring Rolls at Home
15. Rent your Wedding Gown, it’s inexpensive
My cousin found a cool rental store in a certain Abuja satellite town where she rented a brand new dress. The woman who runs the store told her that from time to time she buys new styles but charges more for the first user and gradually drops the rental rates.
Bottom line: not all rental wedding gowns are ‘old-school’ styles. It is possible to rent an on-trend, like-new wedding gown, and they are inexpensive. You just need to take time to look around.
HINT: My cousin’s wedding gown looked new, expensive and in the latest style, and she rented it. When I asked her how she managed to find that style she told me that she first saved pictures of wedding gown styles she liked and then used that to go wedding gown hunting.
She also revealed that our latest wedding gown styles features were one of the pages she used to know what to look for. You too can use her tips to find great wedding gowns when renting. To get ideas of the best styles that will look good on you, read our guide on how to know the best wedding gown styles for your body shape.
16. Fix the Traditional and White Wedding on the Same Date
To make this easier, do some of the time-wasting traditional marriage rites in advance/ before so that your joint white and traditional wedding reception party looks and feels seamless, without keeping guests unnecessarily waiting.
17. Budget Some Extra Fund for ‘Just-In-Case’
This one is very important because even if you know the price of every single wedding thing a few months when making your estimates, you cannot guarantee that they will not change. Also, you could have omitted something when writing the list of wedding things to buy.
So, I advise that you add an extra 10 to 15 percent to the budget estimate you made. For brides working with a lot of money/ budget, they can add an extra 5%. In our wedding budget list template, you’ll find this ‘MISCELLANEOUS’ line item. I refer to this as your shock-absorber.
18. Withdraw Wedding Related Money from a Dedicated Account
If you followed my advice (somewhere above) to put all your wedding money in a separate bank account, you’re set for this step. This is a cool way to make things easy for tracking your wedding expenses.
If possible, make payments with money transfers to your venue, vendors and stores you buy things from, so that you have an automatic record-keeping. Keeping and spending from your dedicated wedding bank account will ensure that you don’t mix up your personal money, and also be able to track your spending.
19. Record and Track Every Spending
Recording and tracking your wedding expenses as you make them is a great way to stick to your wedding budget and avoid overspending.
Get a notebook marked ‘wedding notebook’ and use some pages to write down anything you buy, and also record deposits and payments made to vendors and rental services. When you get home, you can record them on a spreadsheet.
If you’re a very detailed person, you would want to be checking the budgeted amount versus the actual cost for each spending you made, so that you can easily see where you’re saving cost and the extra money you can pull towards other expenses.
If you don’t track your expenses, how will you know if you’re overspending or how much you have spent so far, whether or not you’re on a budget? Many brides make the mistake of not doing this and end up getting stuck, with no extra money to move forward.
I once had a bride who had to postpone her wedding because she was just spending, with no record and no budget to guide her. Close to her wedding, after paying for a venue, there was not enough money to pay the hall decorator. And there was no money to continue.
That was what led to the wedding being postponed. You can avoid that mistake by keeping a wedding expense record book.
2 Keys to a Successful Inexpensive Wedding
a. Execute Your To-Do List with Details and Ask Some People to Help You Out
I recommend forming your own little planning team that you can delegate one or two tasks from your wedding to-do list. These have to be your closest and most reliable pals. You can pick from your bridesmaids, relatives.
Also delegate a few things to your fiance (men love to plan the music/ DJ/ band, accompany bride to venue inspection, choosing the day-before-wedding overnight-stay hotel, booking honeymoon). I explained how to delegate in more details in a previous post where I talked about how to guarantee that your wedding will go perfectly as planned.
b. Don’t Skimp on Wedding Photography When Planning an Inexpensive Wedding
If you take action on the above tips, you should save some costs on your wedding. The idea is to keep things small and classy, and not cheap-and-trashy. That brings me to the next point – wedding photography.
Whatever you do, you’ve got to find a tried and tested photographer that will capture your big day and deliver quality photos. Learn from the mistakes of other brides and don’t make any avoidable wedding photography mistakes that could cost you your wedding memories forever.
One of the best weddings I ever attended had the fewest number of guests (close friends and family), it was inexpensive but just that it had a limited number of guests. It was a same-day court registry and traditional wedding itinerary. The entire event was short.
There was plenty of food and drinks, a lot of dancing and chatting among their friends and family. We didn’t even notice when the couple went out for a photoshoot, but when I saw the photo album, it was unbelievably amazing.
The photo shots were well-captured, magazine-style poses and all. You’d never tell that it was that simple wedding. Photography was the couple’s priority and the single most expensive item on their budget. They had a high-class photographer who they told me they found after hard research, asking around, and looking at their past works.
That’s the kind of mindset you should have when planning a wedding on a budget – let quality photography be a top priority. When looking at other people’s wedding pictures on websites and magazines, note down ideas of beautiful wedding poses to recreate on your wedding day.
Want more ideas on how to plan an inexpensive Nigerian wedding?
- Read 10 Ideas to Plan a Fancy Wedding on a Small Budget (Go Boujee on a Budget)
- Everything About Planning a Small Wedding in Nigeria
Conclusion: Planning an Inexpensive Wedding that Looks Lavish
The premise of this post lies in the difference between Frugal and Cheap. You can be frugal and boujie at the same time. And it’s all about knowing how to stretch a small amount of money to do more for you.
The truth is that being FRUGAL is not the same as being cheap, and that’s the right mindset if you do not want to go broke after your wedding. Most frugal women are budget-savvy and know how to use a hundred thousand Naira to put things together in a way that looks like a million Naira was spent.
So, if you’re a frugal bride looking for ideas on how to have an inexpensive wedding that does not look inexpensive, and leave your guests wowed.
So, there you have it – our 19-step guide on how to plan an inexpensive Nigerian wedding that does not look cheap. If you try any of the above tips, be sure to let me know how it worked for you – we love it when our readers send us feedback.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found a few ideas you can put to use. I’d appreciate your helping me to share this post on social media to help other people find it. Let me know what you think, and if you have additional tips to add, feel free to drop them in the comments section down below.