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Money Talk with Nimi: Till Debt Us Do Part



It is every parents dream when your child or grandchild announces an engagement. Weddings bring joy, excitement, emotion – you simply want to give your loved one their dream wedding and to support them in every possible way. But as we all know, nuptials can be extremely expensive.

Whether you are the bride, the groom, the in-laws, the parents or grandparents here are a few tips that should help you get through the big day.

Prepare a budget
It is important to keep the wedding costs under control. A good first step, as you plan for the upcoming wedding, is to determine how much it will all cost. Make a list of everything you might need for the engagement ceremony and the wedding day and estimate what each will cost. As you get price quotes, refine your budget and prioritize carefully.

Who pays for what?
With the traditional white wedding, protocol was not financially kind to the bride’s family as they were expected to pay for the greater part of wedding costs; often a huge strain for the father of the bride. Fortunately, times have changed and it is common practice these days for both families to contribute; circumstances and not tradition now dictate who pays for what; it’s more about who can afford to foot what can be exorbitant costs. If one family is far more resources than the other, they may opt to foot the bill for one or two of the largest costs such as the venue or catering. The couple may also be in a position to settle some of the expenses themselves.

Honest open communication and very early on, is key to ensure that the whole experience has as little friction as possible. A frank discussion with representatives of both families and the couple about what each party would be willing and able to contribute will help all stakeholders get a good sense of expectations for the day. This can be a somewhat awkward conversation, so sensitivity is important.

As a parent or guardian, don’t get railroaded into what you really can’t afford. A wedding does not have to consume your life savings. In difficult economic times, one expects that simpler, scaled-down weddings and other special occasions will become more the norm.

Keeping numbers down
The biggest factor influencing costs particularly in Nigerian weddings is the sheer number of guests that attend whether invited or not. Ideally one should be able to invite just the nearest and the dearest, but this is almost impossible to achieve in a society with large extended families, associates, and acquaintances. Being firm about numbers can save you lots of money but might make you rather unpopular.

The destination wedding is a growing trend, and can be a solution for the couple that craves a beautiful day without all the pomp and circumstance of what is becoming the typical Nigerian wedding. By escaping to a faraway location with closest friends and family, a couple can avoid the huge and often unmanageable crowd.

Destination weddings take away some of the major stress that comes with planning an elaborate affair. Many venues will plan the whole event with your honeymoon built in. Guests will usually have to pay their own way if they want to vacation and celebrate with you. It is a difficult choice for those with dear ones that might not be able to travel, but for if a couple is not looking to please everyone, it is an option.

Create a wedding list
Don’t be embarrassed
 about creating, and inserting a wedding gift list in the invitation. Most of your guests who are family, friends and colleagues would wish to buy you a present. You don’t want to end up with six toasters, four kettles and 3 water filters, so you might as well state clearly what you want and need for your new home.

If your favorite Nigerian stores do not have a Gift Service, introduce the idea to them and create one; they will be happy for the business and some will even manage the list for you and deliver your gifts after the wedding.

Don’t jeopardize your retirement
Whilst it is nice to put your children first, don’t jeopardize your retirement to fund their weddings. Your needs are just as important. It might be nice to move in with them in your later years for care and companionship, but not because you are broke. Putting away money for a wedding is secondary to contributing to your pension and retirement savings, maintaining an emergency fund and keeping your insurance up to date; make these goals your priority.

Start early, plan ahead
Once you have passed the financial hurdle of funding your children’s education, make it a priority to set aside funds towards their weddings so you aren’t caught without funds when the special day arrives.

Invest according to your risk appetite and time horizon and allocate assets accordingly in the money market for a wedding that is only a couple of years away, and in stocks for longer term savings, or mutual funds which offer liquidity, flexibility, diversification and professional management.

Use a wedding planner
Even where you are on a restricted budget, as most couples are, a wedding or event planner will help you create a realistic budget based on how much you have available to spend. The best ones usually come with a wealth of knowledge that they have garnered from vast experience relating to wedding etiquette, paying attention to the minutest detail, and handling last minute hitches. Having worked closely with several vendors they should be able to assemble the best team for your special day and negotiate discounts for hiring the venue, catering, photography, music etc.

“Till debt us do part”
Some couples…or their families, throw caution to the wind and pull out all the stops even where they can’t really afford to do so. Some will borrow to fund the wedding. For the bride and groom, as far as possible, it is best to avoid borrowing to finance the wedding. Don’t let the wedding ruin the marriage. Few things can set a marriage off on a shaky start than money palaver and debt. If however, due to time constraints or short-term cash flow problems, debt must be incurred have a clear plan in place to quickly pay off the loan.

Far too many couples are caught up in the euphoria of the wedding day that they don’t stop to discuss their financial matters Research shows that financial concerns are among the most common sources of tension in relationships and play a significant part in divorce; yet most couples go into marriage without ever broaching this subject. It may not be romantic, but it is important. After the whirlwind and excitement of the wedding ceremonies, be prepared to face a financial future together.
Photo Credit: Black Paris

Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private banking and wealth management. She is passionate about encouraging financial independence and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance and wealth management issues. She is married with 3 children.Find out more via

Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private wealth management. She seeks to empower people regarding their finances and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance.


  1. Toke

    October 29, 2012 at 9:49 am

    True talk o. My aunty, emptied her retirement fund (after working for the govt for 30years), on my cousin’s wedding. I wondered, during the planning phase, where all the money was coming from, cos I knew right from time, that they were struggling. I mean, they had 5 kids, both civil servants, and they raised 5 kids through to university, with small business at the side. So when the eldest daughter’s wedding came, the wedding was grand beyond belief. You would have thought they were millionaires. I knew the family of the groom, too couldn’t afford it, so imagine my puzzlement (it wasn’t only me, that wondered). Only to find out after the wedding, that they emptied their pension to pay for the wedding. For just 2days, they wanted to feel like the Joneses. Fast forward 5 – 6 years after, they hadn’t completed the house they had started building BEFORE the wedding (so they had money, rather than complete the house, they spent it on a wedding) and the landlord threw them out. The daughter they spent all their money on, couldn’t be bothered. She and her husband have a cushy lifestyle in Lekki and we know how life in the fast lane is now, they didn’t have the kind of money, or maybe they didn’t want to empty their accounts to help her parents complete their house. It is a very messy situation, they are crying, and lamenting, and asking for people to pity and help them. They are very bitter and regretful, and they keep blackmailing their daughter and reporting her to anyone who cares to listen. Not many people are sympathetic o, cos we are all mad, that they blew their retirement pot on a bloody wedding. So people, its just 2 days. My friend just spent 8mil on her wedding, and they are living in a 2bed rented apartment, in a grungy place in Lagos. I couldn’t laugh when I went to see them. 8mil, 8mil, and after all the grandeur, you live in a place like this. The people you were trying to impress with your big wedding, where are they now? Will they believe you live like this. Wisdom people, wisdom.

    • Lilly

      October 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      I wish there was a like and hug button…

    • LAteh L

      October 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      I second that … lmao

    • Purpleicious Babe

      October 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      kai……….. pls BN make this comment a POST…

      GBAM 110%. YOU TALK WELL no be small.

    • notaplayerhater

      October 30, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Exactly why they say cut your ‘iro and buba’ according to your Aso-ebi! If e no reach, sew Oleku!

    • O

      October 30, 2012 at 10:54 am

    • Lacute

      October 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      lol, so on point, u know Oleku can be stylish too, as far as the bride and d groom are joined in holy matrimony, d rest ( reception venue, decor, band, food,…) na jara o!

  2. ejogene

    October 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

    True talk my dear! The wedding is important but the most important thing is a happy marriage!

  3. busarni

    October 29, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Well said Toke; false life staring most ppl in the face. Forgetin that there is life after the wedding. My pastor once advised us against spending huge money on wedding/invitation cards; reason? Few days after ,most wedding cards are trashed. yes trashed, hard truth.Buh ppl will neva learn. God help us all,,

    • Go!

      October 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Lol….That’s a really important advice. How many people remember what the invite looked like a month after the wedding….people would have moved on from the initial “ooohhh” and “aaahhhh”

  4. nems

    October 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Nimi great article jare! Most people feel the pressure to have something elaborate because everbody is doing it, they forget that the wedding takes 3 days tops, THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IS WHAT MATTERS. You don’t wanna be in debt, for most people it takes years to pay off that debt and that is not a good way to start married life.
    I loved the destination wedding idea and would rather have a few people that I love than a truck load of aquintances and extended relatives that will be swearing for you behind your back!

  5. Idak

    October 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    How do you expect folks to escape debt in wedding planning with all the flashy weddings being shoved down their necks on this site? And the ladies all ‘claiming’
    it by faith?

    • MIss

      October 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm


    • Iffy

      October 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      I was going to ask the same question too oh,lolz!but i guess that’s where cutting your coat according to your ‘material’ comes in,abi?

    • sassycassie

      October 30, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Are you a baby?! No one obliged you or anyone to come to Bellanaija and go gaga over elaborate weddings!! No one can force you to do what you dont want to do!

    • olubukola

      October 31, 2012 at 11:11 am

      Na bella Naija dey cause all this things,dem dey show us big man pikin wedding so me too must do big wedding oooh. Shiooooooooooooo.

    • tokunbo

      November 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Well said!!!

  6. Jay

    October 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Great article and very good advice! for more personal finance tips

  7. Go!

    October 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Great stuff! The marriage is so many times more important than the wedding. When all your guests have gone and its just you and your spouse, then reality dawns on you. I really do not see the need to impress anyone if I do not have the means to. The pressure to “keep up with the Jones” is what drives people over the edge with their spendings.
    I planned my wedding myself because even the wedding planner was unnecessary cost for us. The key was starting early to reduce the pressure of planning.

    Good read!

  8. Seun

    October 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you so much Aunty Nimi. THis article has really addressed my current financial plans.

  9. Miss

    October 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks for this Nimi, it is very important in a society like ours and the importance we put on impressing others especially during weddings.
    I dont even like the idea of a ceremony, a court marriage, Nikkai and we all go home.
    I’d rather get a mortgage with the money to be spent or go on honeymoon.
    Maybe you should hold seminars to discuss this very topic, addressing the mothers of the brides cos they are the ones guilty of trying to impress and begging their husbands to spend more as ‘its my daughter’s wedding.

  10. NNENNE

    October 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    @ Idak… My dear, everything in life comes in sizes. That exquisite weddings were posted, would not force me to bite more than I can chew. The truth is that some people can comfortably afford it.So let it be for such people. Life is not and should not be uniform.
    I personally think that parents owe their children a good upbringing, direction, be it education or otherwise. It is not their job to pay for your wedding. I could not do that to my people!
    In traditional/cultural Africa, the first sign that you are ready for marriage is that you can afford these things.

    • Idak

      October 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      You missed my point. I never denied that men are sizes.

  11. sealed lips

    October 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Bless you Nnenne well said jare.I was just about to reply Idak when I saw your comment.PLS people learn not to have what the yorubas call ‘OJU KO KORO’ . If someone decides to have an elaborate wedding, thats their cup of tea. They dont do it so you can claim it or follow their foot step(though I hear some families compete). Self discipline ladies SELF DISCIPLINE. As far as I am concerned having elaborate weddings is waste of money GBAM. Yes waste of Money. Its not how much you spend for the ceremony that determines how happy and fruitful the home will be.Afterall we have seen people spend millions and after 3months they are seperated

    • tokunbo

      November 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm


  12. sealed lips

    October 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Trust this woman to give good advice.Loved reading her column on Genevieve magazine

  13. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    My friend is engaged to a Scottish man and one of the first things I love that her fiance did after he proposed is this: he sat her down, opened up fully about his finances (and I mean everything financial – salary, pension fund, share schemes, investments etc) and asked her to do the same. How many Nigerian couples are honest enough to have this conversation during the wedding planning stage? I honestly don’t know that many and suppose a lot don’t have to because their parents pay for a major part of the wedding…

    So anyway, my girl had this talk with her man and from that point, they knew exactly what their budget was to plan their wedding. Their main rule is “if we can’t pay for it in cash, we’re not having it” because her fiance insisted they weren’t taking any credit or loans to get married. I am honestly amazed by their restraint in this “buy-today-pay-tomorrow” society but what’s even more amazing is that everytime I speak to her, they’ve paid for something or the other. Photographer – check; cake – check; hall – check; band – check; florist – on hold but almost checked.

    She’s left me with one very good piece of advise, which is this: if she’d known before what she now knows about wedding costs, she’d have foregone a couple of shoes and bags to start her “Wedding Savings Fund” and so I better start getting ready for my own groom by putting £20 away per week and I could be surprised at how much it adds up to. That’s my word for you today, ladies “Wedding Savings Fund”. Even if you marry some Senator/Governor/Mogul’s pikin who doesn’t need your contribution, at least you can blow your wedding nest egg on those oh-so-popular bedazzled Louboutins (or however they’re spelled)… haha.

    Seriously, though, starting right now can go a long way towards part of your wedding costs.

    • lilly

      October 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      chei!!! i love you for this. that’s the difference between a white and an African man. My Bf (who is White-American) and I have said when we are ready to tie the knot(especially me cos right now i’m more worried about standing on my feet), it will be very small. No need of extravagance afterall it’s the marriage that matters NOT the wedding.

    • Idak

      October 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      There is nothing extra ordinary that the Scottish man did.
      I did same and even more.
      Every financial detail was made bare before marriage and even more. Even the contributions of our parents to our wedding was known by her. Such disclosure and openness is not exclusive to western men.
      My wife knows what i earn to the last kobo and as a matter of fact our savings account is in her name. The only other functional account i have is a joint account.
      We naija men are not all as you paint.

    • Lani

      October 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Idak jare, you have said too much. Its ok. From what you have said, you did the exact thing the Scottish man said. It doesn’t even sound like they are relying on their parents, whereas you are. My point is you are not better.

    • hateunrealisticpple

      November 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      I live in the UK and I never took out a loan for my wedding. One key thing we did was start our plans early. We paid for the hall a year to the wedding. Photographer and all were sorted well in advance. That way we didn’t really feel the cost.

  14. sweerymoi

    October 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    very well said!


    October 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm


  16. Smallie

    October 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Wonder why most Nigerians like living above their means. I had know even before i had a fiance that when it comes to my wedding i was on my own o, so i saved very very well. When the fiance came along we sat down made our budget and discussed where the funds was coming from. This helped us a lot as i made sure we stuck to the budget and not over spend. We could even still afford to go for our honeymoon with extra in our accoutn sef, even though i lost my job over that period.

  17. SisiEko

    October 30, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Cut your coat according to your cloak/fabric people. If you have it, spend it; if you dont, the society wont cast you out for having a small wedding. Wisdom is profitable to direct. The question should always be: what happens in the long term?.

  18. groom-to-be

    October 30, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Thank you Nimi for the article and God bless Toke and Smallie for their comments. I’m encouraged much…

  19. R

    October 30, 2012 at 4:53 am

    The first comment is a reality check.
    I don’t think there’s a problem with having a lavish wedding, IF you can afford it.
    Make the wedding as special as possible, within your budget.

  20. PH Boy

    October 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Nigerians are insatiable. No matter how much money you spend, some nitwit will complain about something to spite your efforts; that there were no shrimps in the menu, the coconut rice tasted like coconut, the ipad that was shared as Souvenirs was an i2 and not an i3, the money sprayed was in naira and not in $. The list is endless so why bother. When you look in the mirror, how many people do you see. It is easy to entangle oneself in the charade of a fantasy wedding but in reality who will be the dumber for it. People will most gladly squander your loan financed or borrow borrow to impress and will most certainly mock you when you are soaking garri. If you have to lavish money, lavish it on your bride. At least you will always see where the money is going into. By the way, the most important part of any wedding is the exchange of vows after that you can share kpof kpof for all i care.

  21. Bidi bang

    November 1, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Haters on the rise…Abeg let’s here word my own is this life is too short…if you will take a loan take it n show off you only live once and when you die n look back at ur life at least you enjoyed yourself it’s like buying a car on finance why not get the best edition when you still end up paying for it like if you bought the cheap edition….even the wealthiest country America is owing china trillions of dollars…if Jesus comes today do you think china will come n be asking for their money? Please ladies life is too short enjoy yourself well well jor…..don’t mind the bad belle ppl always having excuse for short comings and trying to bring everyone down to their levels.

    • hateunrealisticpple

      November 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO……………Interesting opinion!

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