Do you know the one single wedding area you can touch and your entire wedding cost will immediately reduce? Also, do you know that there’s a single type of wedding expense that makes up over 40% of every wedding budget? You’ll find out in this post – plus other factors that make Nigerian weddings super-expensive.
This post is aimed at couples who are looking for ways to make their weddings or parties more affordable, while sticking to their budgets. The truth is that there are some expense areas that if you cut down a little will get your wedding/ party cost to drop a lot, and your wedding quality will not be affected. There are other cost areas that if you cut even a lot, your total wedding cost will not drop much.
After reading this post, you will be in full control of your wedding budget, and know exactly the small cuts you can make that will result in a big cost saving while keeping your wedding less expensive. Find out the different things that cause Nigerian weddings to be very expensive, and learn how you can apply this cost-cutting wedding planning technique to make your wedding less expensive.
6 Things that Make Nigerian Weddings Very Expensive
a. Large Number of Guests
It’s a blessing to invite as many people as possible to your wedding, but there is a cost that comes with every single guest – the cost of food and drinks, and the cost of space (more guests require a bigger venue, which cost more).
Food and drinks cost as much as 40% and more of the entire wedding budget, and since they are priced on a per-person basis, the more guests you invite, the more money you’ll spend on food and drinks, and the more money your wedding will cost. Every single guest/ invite is a cost.
For example if you’re in the middle of wedding planning and are looking for a way to cut down cost, try cutting down the number of invited guests and you’ll see your total wedding cost reduce – because your catering (food and drinks) cost will reduce. If you can afford it, fantastic! But if you cannot afford the cost of providing enough food and drinks, and ample space for a large number of guests, consider cutting down your guest list to the number you can afford.
BENEFITS OF CUTTING DOWN GUEST LIST: Every single guest costs money – cost per plate of food, cost per portion of venue space. by cutting down the number of guests, your required planning budget will be lower – because you’ll need less money for the venue, food, and drinks.
THINK ABOUT IT: Is it by force to invite everyone you know their names? No. Write down your guest list on paper before you pay for printed invitation cards. After that, cut down your guest list to a number you can feed and accommodate (venue seating capacity).
I usually advise that couples first set out a bulk amount for their wedding catering (food and drinks) – which you will know if you use our wedding budget calculator. Once you know what your catering budget is, you can use it to know exact number of guests to invite. We explained a way to calculate it, and thank me later.
LESSON & SUMMARY: When looking for how to cut down the cost of your wedding or party, consider reducing the number of guests to invite. Below are examples of how you can save money by cutting down guest number.
- For example: if you have N500k and initially planned to invite 100 people. Let’s say that you have done a budget breakdown and wedding expenses list on paper and the total cost is more than your planned N500k. Using the idea above, if you go back to your guest list and reduce it to 90 or 80 guests, you can re-calculate your catering cost (based on the per-plate-cost your caterer quoted. You may be surprised to see the total wedding cost drop.
- Another Example: We have seen some couples say they desire to have a honeymoon but money was tight. When they told us how many guests they’re inviting, we suggested they cut down the guest list. Just by doing that alone made them save extra money that was enough for a decent honeymoon vacation in Nigeria. How cool is that! For honeymoon planning ideas, check out The Nnani’s Beautiful Mauritius Honeymoon Story.
b. Too Many Catering Options (Food and Drinks)
We’ve all been to weddings where there was all types of the same food. For example: rice in different forms (fried rice, jollof rice, ofada rice, rice and stew) and all types of swallow (Semovita, Pounded Yam, Eba, Akpu), and many types of meat/ fish (beef, chicken, goat meat, Crocker Fish, Titus Fish, Cord Fish).
Too many menu and drinks options cost more money. The more the food options, the more expensive your wedding/ party will cost. If you have limited funds, consider limiting the number of food and drinks options at your wedding. It’s fantastic to offer assorted menu and drinks options to your guests, but if you’re a low-budget couple, but if you have limited cash plan your wedding, you still offer assorted menu options by limiting the options for each type of food, going with people’s most favourite option.
For example, consider serving one or two popular swallow options (such as Eba and Pounded Yam, or Eba and Semo) instead of serving 6 types of swallow foods. Similarly, consider serving one or two of the most popular party rice food (Jollof Rice, Fried Rice) instead of serving 10 options for rice meals. For meat, if you’re a low-budget couple or looking for ways to make your wedding less expensive, consider serving one or two popular proteins (such as Beef, Chicken) instead of 10 meat options.
c. Invited Guests that Bring their Own Guests without Asking
Imagine planning a wedding to seat and cater for 200 guests, and on your big day it turns out your venue was overcrowded and the food and drinks run out, leaving some guests hungry. In addition, the wedding hall was stuffy and hot, with some guests standing outside. After your wedding day, you look at the video and see many strange faces you don’t know.
That’s the reality at many Nigerian weddings – because guests usually bring their companions (spouses, children and friends) without asking the hosts. Sometimes, you can find one guest bringing four children, and there are many guests with this kind of extra guests. Aside from that, RSVPs are not a thing in Nigeria – even where they are written on the invitation cards, many wedding guests either don’t know what it means or ignore it.
How to Avoid that: It’s important to plan to make sure that the guests you invite will be comfortable. The way to do it is to make your wedding or party ‘strictly by invitation’. State it on the invitation card, and more importantly, hire bouncers or event security to enforce it and ensure that only guests with invitation cards can pass through the entrance.
If you don’t want Bouncers or Event Security, then increase your catering budget to cater for the guests of guests, and your real invited guests.
So, either way you have to plan for extra budget – for entrance security or for extra food for your guests’ extra guests. You decide. If you have a lot of money to spend, feel free to not restrict your wedding, but be considerate of your guests and don’t make them come and not eat – or they’ll think you’re greedy for their gifts.
d. Random Strangers Crashing into Weddings
In Nigeria, at every wedding or party, you can find over 20% are random strangers who crashed into the reception party. This always happens and the result is that you have more people to feed, and you now have more people than the venue capacity. To ensure that their real guests get food, wedding and party hosts have to budget for extra food to cover the gate-crashers, making that wedding more expensive than it should have.
WHAT TO DO: Make your wedding or party ‘strictly by invitation’, and hire Bouncers or Event Security to demand for an invitation card before being allowed inside. Would you rather have your guests not get food because an uninvited guest got the food and food has run out, or would you spend extra cash to secure the wedding reception entrance?
Your guests would rather not get a Souvenir than to honour your invitation and not be served food. So, if you’re wondering where to get money to cover the cost of venue security, consider striking out one wedding expense area that is not a must-have, such as Souvenirs.
e. Not Budgeting or Sticking to a Budget
Budgeting is a big part of planning any project, including wedding. Making a budget before starting to pay for wedding things is very important in, and helps you not overstretch yourself, so that you have a wedding within your affordability and still have some change to start your married life. Most Nigerian weddings are expensive because some couples make the mistake of starting out without a budget, and others make the mistake of not sticking to their budget.
- RELATED: How to Make a Nigerian Wedding Budget in 7 Easy Steps
- How to Stick to Your Wedding Budget (and Avoid Overspending)
Here are the types of behaviour that make some Nigerian couples end up with a more expensive wedding.
The No-Budget Couples: Many couples just fly blindly into shopping for wedding things and paying for wedding vendors, without any planning or record of expenses. Every month they pay for one wedding thing or the other, and keep going at it until when they feel most things are taken care of and then they fix a wedding date. At this point, they have blown several months or years of income on wedding things and don’t even know how much (total) they have put in.
This type of couple then invite everyone to their big day, and the wedding is crowded with food not enough for all guests – because they did not bother to find out how many guests their budget can feed, or the size of venue that can seat all guests. This type of couple usually get burnt out and broke before their wedding, and start their marriage broke and begging a committee of friends.
The Not-Sticking-to-Budget Couple: Why make a budget if you cannot stick to it? It’s all a waste of time having a budget and not using it. I know of a bride that postponed her wedding because she ran out of money about two months to her wedding date, and could not book the venue. So, it turned out that she did not even know how much the venue cost was, and the reality was that she had overspent her (and her fiancé’s) financial capacity.
She assumed that money will be coming in, and she kept booking vendors, buying wedding attire and all. Imagine that she was planning with her wedding budget in sight? Of course, she would have been guided to spend within the limits she budgeted for every item planned for, and she would have money to cover the venue cost.
f. Over-the-Top Venue Decoration Cost
Over-the-top wedding decorations are very expensive. Let’s face it – we all love the modern wedding decor and lighting effects we see on Instagram and Bella Naija Weddings, but not all couples can afford them. That’s not to say that you cannot find affordable wedding decoration that is both classy and beautiful enough to wow your guests.
If you are looking for a way to make your Nigerian wedding less expensive, and you have your eyes on trendy wedding decorations, such as Ini Dima’s wedding décor, consider going for a toned-down alternative that won’t make you go broke.
Explore different event venue decor and lighting options, and also consider looking for affordable tried and trusted Event Decoration vendors that are not too popular. The most popular vendors tend to increase their fees a lot, but there are good ones who are not yet social-media-popular. So, spend time researching good but affordable venue decoration service providers.
How the Number of Guests Affect Different Wedding Costs (and What to Do)
Couples who are just starting to budget for their weddings, always wonder exactly ‘how expensive is a wedding?’. Well, let me share a fun fact with you: the size of your guest list is responsible for how expensive your wedding will be because it controls the cost of the most expensive part of a wedding (food/ drinks and venue).
The Venue Location, Class, Type and Seating Capacity and Cost Implication
The size of the venue space, location and the class of the facility determine how cheap or how expensive the venue is. Go through the Checklist of Things to Look for When Choosing a Venue to ensure you pick the venue without hidden costs that will surface later. Before deciding on number of guests to invite, be aware that more guests cost more money with regards to venue space, and I explain why below.
Here are the factors that make an event venue expensive:
a) Number of Your Guests vs Seating Capacity vs Venue Cost of the Venue
When you go looking for your wedding venue, the question you’ll be asked is: how many guests are you having? They want to be able to know which of their venue spaces can comfortably fit the number of people you are expecting. If you ask them about each venue and the cost, you’ll see that the larger venue spaces cost more. Also, location matters when it comes to even venues in Nigeria. Wedding/ event venues in high-brow locations cost more.
- SITUATION: If you plan to have more wedding guests, you will require larger venue space with a high seating capacity and that costs more. The more guests you plan to invite, the more costly the venue you’ll require.
- WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you have a tight budget, consider reducing the number of guests so that you can go for a smaller cheaper venue if you want to cut down on the cost of the wedding venue. However, if you can afford a bigger venue space (to accommodate your large guest number), by all means go for it.
b) Venue Type vs Cost
When looking at event and wedding venues in the same area/ location, they would be different based on their types. The price points of wedding and event venues are different depending on the venue type – some stypes are more expensive than others. For example, hotel-owned event venues are more expensive than restaurant-owned event venues, and garden-type event venues are less expensive than restaurant-based event venues. If money is not an issue, by all means, go for the venue of your dreams.
If that’s not the case, consider more affordable venue types such as gardens, open-fields, school fields at weekends and school halls. For Sunday (weekend) weddings, some restaurants convert to event venues. Whatever type of venue your money can afford, there’s a way to make that venue look upgraded and extra-ordinary. We have seen couples transform cheap venues to look expensive. You too can do that, if you’re working with a low budget.
What is not cool is spending so much on a venue and being stingy on food and drinks or a good DJ which both give guests a good experience. To learn more about picking a venue, check out my posts on Picking a Wedding Venue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you absolutely want your wedding at a specific location, go get pricing for the different types of venue options and then compare the prices so you can choose the one that fits your taste and budget. It’s not cool to have a taste for 5-star hotel venues and you only have a 2-star restaurant venue, and be bent on sacrificing everything to have that. Sounds ridiculous but there are people like that. There are venue options with different price points and sometimes couples on a low budget choose expensive options.
c) Location vs Venue Cost:
Another thing that makes venue prices more costly is the location and class of the facility. Also, venues in high-brow parts of any city are more expensive. There are high-class venues, such as 5-star hotels or high-brow restaurants or high-class event centres. The location of the venue also affects the cost. A high-class hotel event venue in Lagos will cost more than the same class of hotel venue in Ibadan.
For example, event and wedding venues in Lagos Island are more expensive than the same quality and class of venues in Lagos mainland. Why? The location. We’ve seen couples who work and live in Abuja or Lagos choose to locate their weddings in their home states just so they can pay less on a high-class hotel event venue. That’s a thing to consider. To know about other things to consider, read our tips on what to look for in a wedding venue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you absolutely like the idea of a top-hotel wedding venue and can’t afford the hotel venues in the state where you live, consider locating your wedding in another cheaper state/ city such as your home state where you can have that same type and class of event venue but a lot cheaper.
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Conclusion and Recap: Tips for an Inexpensive Nigerian Wedding
Weddings cost a lot but you should have the right to control how expensive your wedding will be. If you can afford it, by all means go for it, but if you have a limited budget to plan with, use the tips in this post (above) to control your wedding cost.
We covered how a big wedding guest number is the biggest reason why Nigerian weddings are expensive, followed by the presence of uninvited guests, providing too many food and drink options, not budgeting or sticking to a budget. I also provided tips on ways to control your costs, with regards to each point. I hope that you can apply the tips in this post to make your Nigerian wedding less expensive.
Now, it’s your turn: tell me, how many guests do you plan to invite to your wedding? What are you doing to keep the cost of your wedding food and venue within what you can afford? Tell me in the comments down below.