How to Plan a Traditional and White Wedding on Same Day (Checklist)

Having the traditional and white wedding on the same day helps save couples save costs, due to having only one reception instead of the usual two. You’ll save venue cost, catering cost and a whole lot more. And, you’ll also save time and stress.  Same-day double weddings and a combined reception party is a trend that is becoming more common than ever, with more couples choosing to go that route. However, it’s not that straight-forward to plan one, if you’re planning your wedding yourself.  Among questions, about-to-wed couples ask is ‘how do you go about organizing it?’ ‘Should the couple dress in trad attire or English-wear to the combined reception party? How long should the wedding reception last? Should you have the trad wedding first or the church wedding first? What should the decoration and wedding cake be like – trad or white? What will the program of events be like?

This is a topic our readers regularly ask questions about, for which I answered them individually, which is very tasking. A few days ago, another asked for a guide on how to go about planning the reception program for their same-day traditional and white wedding. So, it struck me to write a post for her and also for every other person that needs help figuring out how what they need to do when planning this type of Nigerian wedding.  The tricky and most difficult part is how to go about the combined wedding reception, but don’t worry, I have a step by step detailed planning guide that you can count on.  I also included a sample combined program of event schedule that will make it easier for you and other couples to organize both their traditional and white wedding on the same day, in a way that things move smoothly from one event to the other.  Read on.

How to Plan Traditional and White Wedding on Same Day

Background Photo by Shardayyy Photography on Unsplash

The usual way is to have the traditional engagement ceremony on a different day and the white wedding ceremony on another day, and feed guests in each (double spending on catering budget, and on venue rental and decoration). However, fixing the same date for both the trad and white wedding means you will have one reception party for both, and only feed guests once. Choosing to do it this way cuts down the wedding cost for Nigerian couples to about half the amount they would have spent if done otherwise.

Sample Program of Events for Traditional and White Wedding on the Same Day

The question many brides ask is how to structure their program of events for a combined traditional and white wedding reception on the same day. Some couples choose to have the white (religious) weddings first or in the morning, and later have the traditional wedding and combined reception party.

When White Wedding Happens First: Here’s an example of how I’ve seen the wedding reception program ordered:

  • The couple goes from church and dance into the reception venue
  • A few minutes of MC introducing and opening the event
  • The couple cuts the wedding cake (non-trad cake)
  • The Toast – guests toast to the couple
  • The couple have a short dance, whereby they dance to the outside to leave and change quickly into their traditional wedding attire
  • While guests are waiting for the couple, the MC is entertaining guests, DJ is blasting music and cake slices and small chops are served to keep guests busy and not complaining before couple returns
  • The couple arrive back quickly
  • The trad part of the wedding reception starts and leads to the program’s end.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

To make dress-change fast, here are things to do:

  • The couple should have booked a hotel room close to the reception venue or rented a reception venue that has a room they can use for a quick change of outfit
  • the bride should have chosen a double-duty hairstyle and makeup (see details below);
  • The MC has to be informed of the need to keep the event duration short, and s/he must be warned to keep jokes short and few (that’s because some Nigerian MCs are the reasons many weddings drag too long);
  • The initial activities in the program-of-event before outfit change should be very quick so that the bride’s makeup will still be fresh, as there may not be enough time or money to have fresh new makeup done. If the couple likes, they can also have a small, inexpensive trad wedding cake – some couples who have only a trad wedding cake, only serve guests small chops when they go out for a dress change, and later cut and serve the trad cake].

Also, check down below (method 2) for the program of events ideas when having the trad first and a white wedding later the same day.

Tips and Advice for a Successful Traditional Engagement and White Wedding in a Day (Checklist)

When planning a combined wedding reception for a same-day traditional engagement and white wedding, there are a few tips and advice that can help you make it successful.  If you’ve not been to this type of wedding, it’s hard to imagine how to make it work seamlessly. Use this checklist (below) to help you know everything to consider and put to check when planning both a traditional and white wedding on the same day.

For couples who are planning this on their own (without a wedding planner), there will be many questions, such as: should it be the white wedding first or the trad first? How do you move from the traditional engagement to the white wedding reception activities or vice versa? What kind of decoration will work for the same venue for the two types of Nigerian wedding? So many questions… I have answers below to give you clarity on how to plan both your trad and white wedding on the same day.

Important Consideration Before The Combined-Wedding Date

Do not include the time-consuming customary marriage rites (engagement list and dowry payment): if you are having trad and white same day. Ensure to paid the bride price and presented the engagement list before that day (latest the previous day). That way, your combined 2-in-1 wedding day would be strictly for the things that are not time-wasting, and also to send a proof of bride price payment to your church if they requested it. Later, in this post, I’ll explain more about scheduling the bride price and engagement list at least a day before or weeks or months previously.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s go into the tiny details to check when looking for how to organize the double wedding reception program and more. There are 2 ways (explained down below):

Method 1: Religious/ White Wedding First and Traditional Engagement Later on Same Day

To make this type of wedding reception work, you need to make a few considerations when scheduling and timing the program of events. Here is a checklist of 19 ideas for merging your traditional and white wedding in one day:

#1. Fix the reception venue close to the white wedding location, so that you and guests can quickly transit to commence the 2-in-1 wedding reception. If the venue between the church wedding ceremony and reception is far apart, the time required for everyone to arrive te reception would not be too long.  If the venues are far apart, the transition time would cut into the reception program time and guests will definitely complain;

#2. Keep the Entire Event Short, if you don’t want guests to leave before the end. Don’t go over 4 hours for both events, and one should flow into the other, with a good DJ making it seamless;

#3. Start early, and make sure the entire 2-in-1 event will not let the whole day (which annoys guests). Sit with your MC (emCee) to schedule an interval of activities to be short-short;

#4. Order of Program (Example): Here’s how I have seen many couples structure their program of events for traditional and white wedding on the same day: Couple go from church and dance into the reception venue > A few minutes of MC introducing and opening the event > Couple cuts the wedding cake (non-trad cake) > The Toast – guests toast to the couple  > Couple have a short dance, and dance to the outside to leave and change into traditional attire AND while this is going on, cakes and small chops are served to keep guests busy before couple returns > the trad part of the occasion starts and leads to program end.

[NOTES: To make dress-change fast, the couple should have booked a hotel room close to the reception venue or booked a venue that has a room that can be used for a quick change of outfit; bride should have chosen a double-duty hairstyle and makeup (see details below); the initial event activities before outfit change should be very quick so that the bride’s makeup will still be fresh, as there may not be enough time or money to have fresh new makeup done. If the couple like, they can also have a small, inexpensive trad wedding cake – some couples who have only a trad cake, only serve guests small chops when they go out for a dress change, and later cut and serve the trad cake].

#4. Hire a good MC that is conversant with your indigenous traditional wedding process, OR hire 2 MCs – one for the trad part of the event and one for the white wedding reception part;

#5. Carry Important Stakeholders Along: Let your people (parents and relatives) know in advance to keep the traditional engagement activities shorter than normal because you still have the white wedding reception program later.  It won’t work if someone has to always run around to whisper to someone to round up in the middle of their activity. let key participants know weeks in advance, so they can plan for a shorter program;

#6. Keep the Trad Part Within 3 Hours or Less: Plan for the traditional engagement part of the reception to last not more than 3 hours, and schedule it to start not later than 8 am;

#7. Involve Relatives in Drafting Trad Engagement Program: Sit down with your relatives who would be key persons (in the traditional engagement) to draft a flow of activities for 3 hours or less;

#8. Involve the MC: Sit with your MC to draft out a list of activities for the white wedding part of the reception party. That way, they will easily flow in directing activity flow at the reception;

#9. Go through the trad part of the program with the MC you hired to give them some familiarity. If the MC is from your tribe or familiar with your culture, they will have no problem with the program, and will even offer useful suggestions;

#11. Create the Program of Events to Ship Out for Printing: Still with your MC, merge the two separate program (the trad part and the white wedding part), to get the day’s program of events that you can go and print copies for wedding guests;

#12. Choose a Venue Decoration that Will Work for Both: Neutral venue vibes will work for both types of the wedding reception.  So, go for non-trad decor. Keep your venue decoration not too traditional, so that it will look appropriate a white wedding reception as well as for a trad wedding. Generally, the white wedding type of venue decoration also looks appropriate for a trad wedding setting.  You don’t want confusing backgrounds in your wedding pictures. Instead, you want your white wedding pictures not to be behind a trad wedding decor.  Here’s a hack: If you have enough space, you may want to decorate a wall, especially for trad wedding pictures and also where to display a traditional wedding cake, if you have one. But also adding a traditional-oriented decoration is optional, as a simple decoration will work for both types of wedding reception;

#13. Wedding Cake: Keep your wedding cake design simple and in neutral colours (no strong colours), so that the same cake can go for both types of reception.  The reason for merging both the trad and white wedding on the same day is to save money on cakes and every other thing. If you like the two different cakes idea, a wedding cake money-saving idea that you can use is to split your wedding cake budget into two and make two small cakes (one for the trad and one for the white wedding) instead of making one single big wedding cake.

#14. Choose a Double-Duty Hairstyle that will work for both: Because you may not have time to change your hairstyle between the two weddings, choose a hairstyle that will work for your white wedding veil and also for your traditional wedding gele and/ or traditional beaded headpiece;

#15. Choose a Double Duty Makeup, especially eyeshadow and lipstick colour: As with hairstyle advice above, choose a simple but nice makeup that will double for both the trad and white wedding reception. However, have someone on-ground to touch-up and freshen your makeup after the church wedding when you have an outfit change into your trad wedding outfit;

#16. Music – Have Your DJ Create Separate Playlists for Each Reception Part: Ensure to let your DJ and/ or live band know to switch to the appropriate songs for each type of wedding reception. It is a good idea to have them come up with two different songs playlist a few days before your wedding day, and you should have a listen to vet it;

#17. Food and Drinks: Should be the same as what is served at any Nigerian wedding reception;

#18. Venue Organization and Clearance: It will be a good idea to have people on the ground to clear the venue of some or all of the traditional wedding items before the white wedding reception starts, or at least move them aside so that they don’t show in the white wedding pictures. Because you’re using the same venue for the trad and white wedding reception, ensure to let your people or vendors move things quickly when one type of wedding is transitioning to the other;

#19. Finger Foods to Minimize Guests Whining and Complaining: 2-in-1 Nigerian wedding receptions can sometimes bore guests, and some tend to drag for hours (which you should avoid). Guests will complain about timings, and serving finger foods in-between program switch from trad to white wedding reception will keep guests refreshed and not-so-hungry before the real ITEM #7 (food time). This doesn’t have to be expensive small chops like samosa and spring rolls – small-sized puff puff and buns PLUS the sliced wedding cake will do;

#20. Ensure Availability of Enough Convenience Rooms Before Settling for a Venue: Ensure that the venue you rent has an adequate number of functional toilets so that your guests don’t leave the venue looking for where to ease themselves.

how to plan same day traditional and white wedding

Selfie time for female wedding guests in iro and buba aso-ebi [Photo by Lumi Morgan / Instagram]

Method 2: Trad in the Morning and White Wedding in the Afternoon (Program Timeline)

Most Nigerian churches fix weddings in the morning, and that makes it convenient for a couple to fix the trad engagement and all-in-one reception in the afternoon. But some couples have had it the other way – church wedding in the afternoon or early evening.

If that’s going to be the case for you and you plan to have both the white and trad wedding on the same day, then it means you should fix the traditional engagement in the morning. With that saying, your program of activities will also be similar to the one above (for a white wedding in the morning and trad’ in the afternoon) – simply switch the timings in the program checklist above.

It is also important to get the time-consuming traditional marriage rites (bride price and engagement list settlement) out of the way in advance.

Reason to Settle The Bride Price Before The Wedding Day

When planning a 2-in-1 Nigerian wedding (with a combined traditional and white wedding reception on the same day), it is important that the entire event does not last too long. Setting the bride price and engagement list in advance is an effective way to cut down the event time. Let that one be strictly within the family members that must be there (no friends needed). You should target to have not more than twelve people there (from both the bride and groom’s family side).

So, if you want to have both weddings on the same day, get the bride price payment settled day(s) or weeks before wedding day or early in the morning before or during church or court wedding: Get the customary marriage rites settlement (engagement list and bride price) out of the way early, to avoid it stretching to the event time. You don’t have to invite guests to this one. It should be a low-key, intimate affair, with only close family members that need to be there (as this is not a party).

If the engagement list and bride price have not been previously settled, schedule for this to take place before the reception; while the court wedding is going on. That way, you don’t have to bore guests with what most will not be interested in – especially as engagement list and bride price settlement only require close members of both bride and groom’ s family. So, the court wedding and engagement list/ bride price payment happen will simultaneously, with the couple and a few close friends at the court and the parents at the reception venue overseeing the trad proceedings.

Another reason to settle the bride price and list in advance is that some churches in Nigeria do not allow same-day trad and white wedding, because they want proof of bride price payment before approving the couple for a church wedding date. In that case, simply settle the bride price ahead of time (without any party) and get proof to your church. The party should be scheduled at a later date on the same day as the white wedding so that you can have both receptions in one day and the same place.

Why Couples Have Both Traditional and White Wedding On Same Day (Combined Wedding Reception)

Some couples who are not sure whether having a combined wedding reception (‘for trad and white) is right for them often ask: ‘what are the reasons why some people fix both their traditional and white wedding on the same day?’

The answer is simple: Due to the bad economy and lack of good jobs, many couples in Nigeria have to cut down wedding expenses. Since Nigerians typically have multiple types of wedding ceremonies, with the minimum being two types involving the ‘mandatory’ customary traditional engagement and additional court registry or religious wedding ceremony. The usual way is to schedule each type of wedding on a separate date and also have a reception party after.  A typical Nigerian wedding has hundreds of guests, and ‘the more the merrier’ is the order of the day.

These days, most couples are having to fund their weddings on their own, without the financial support of parents – unlike the good old days. The financial implication of multiple weddings and reception are not affordable for most of today’s young couples in Nigeria. Hence the need for a way to cut down costs by having all your two Nigerian weddings (traditional and white) on the same day.

While saving money is the reason why most couples choose to have their weddings this way, for others, the reason is to avoid stress.  Some couples simply want to reduce wedding planning stress. Some couples feel they feel that planning one wedding alone is already stressful, and does not want to go through that a second time.

Is a Same-Day Nigerian Traditional and White Wedding For You?

The benefits of having a combined wedding reception by fixing the same date for both the white and traditional wedding are immense for both the couple, their family members and friends. It’s a win-win for all – one wedding party means less travel stress and related cost for everyone; friends of the couple also save money from buying only one set of gifts, one set of aso-ebi. The couple saves more money in the process. That’s all on this topic. If you enjoyed reading, please help someone else see this post by sharing it on social media.

So, what do you think about doing both traditional and white wedding on the same day, and having a combined wedding reception? Is it something you think you can do or do you prefer the classic way of having each type of wedding on a separate day? Also, is there any different way that you’ve seen people scheduling the program of events for this type of 2-in-wedding Nigerian wedding? Comment below to tell me, and let’s get the discussion going.

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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.

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