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 weddings? So many questions… I have answers below to give you clarity on how to plan both your traditional 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 plan on having your trad’ and white wedding on the 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):
PROGRAM #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;
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#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. Find out more tips on how to avoid being late at your own wedding;
#4. Order of Program (Example): Here’s how I have seen many couples structure their program of events for the 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.
- To ensure that their wedding day dress-change(s) will be fast, the couple should book a hotel room near the reception venue. Better still, they can book a venue that has a bridal suite or changing room that can be used for a quick change of outfit.
- The 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 likes, they can also have a small, inexpensive traditional wedding cake in addition to a white wedding cake. Some couples who only made one cake serve guests small chops when they go out for a dress change, and later cut and serve the wedding cake, which could be the traditional-themed cake.
#4. Hire a good Master of Ceremony (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. You can find a good MC and other vendors by following our tips on where and how to find good Nigerian wedding vendors.
#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. If your MC does not know you that want the reception to not last longer than 3 or 4 hours, s/he will drag on and on with the usual MC jokes. So, let them know what you want;
#9. Go through the traditional wedding part of the program with the Master of Ceremony (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 and Send it 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;
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#12. Choose a Venue Decoration that Will Work for Both Wedding Ceremonies: A neutral theme venue vibe will work for both types of wedding receptions. So, opt for non-traditional-themed venue decoration. Keep your venue decoration not too traditional, so that it will look appropriate for a white wedding reception as well as for a traditional wedding.
Generally, 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 traditional 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.
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#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;
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#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;
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#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;
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#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.
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