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Money Matters with Nimi: Don’t Fret About the Wedding… Contemplate the Marriage



Many couples are so in love with the idea of having a fairytale wedding that they forget to stop to discuss the actual marriage itself. Yet, after the excitement of the wedding ceremonies, it will be time to face a financial future together.

Financial problems can be the number one deterrent to a healthy marriage. Don’t start your marriage off this way. Indeed, research shows that financial concerns are one of the most common sources of friction, tension, separation and even divorce, yet most couples go into marriage without ever broaching this subject. It may not be romantic, but it is terribly important. Here are some things to consider as you plan a wedding:

How much will it cost?
A good first step, as you figure out how to afford an upcoming wedding, is to determine the extent of your financial responsibility. Start with a budget. Make a list of everything you can think of that you will need for the ceremony, the reception, the venue, food, drinks, rentals, flowers, photography, videographer, choir, organists, musicians, décor, wedding planner, party favors, wedding dress, rings, and all other attendant costs. Estimate what each item will cost. Refine your budget as you get price quotes, and identify the things that are most important. Small compromises can often add up to huge savings.

Some major factors influencing your costs are likely to be the reception venue and the number of guests to attend. With what can be endless costs, knocking one or two hundred people off your guest list will save you a tidy sum. Inviting just the closest family and friends can literally save you hundreds of thousands, even millions of naira. It may leave you less popular though, but does that really matter? The key is to prioritize.

Communication is key
Splitting the bill may appear to be a blessing, but when extensive extended families are involved it can also be like the National Assembly deliberating on the national budget! Those with the larger stake may feel entitled to control the details. Communicate early and often with your son or daughter and their fiancé to manage expectations. With a good sense of what the couple wants you can be clear about how much you are willing and able to contribute.

Who pays for what?
Tradition was not financially kind to the bride’s family who paid the majority of the wedding costs (In some cultures) While this was great for the bridegroom’s family, was a huge stress for the father of the bride. How you decide to split the costs of your son’s or daughter’s wedding, depends primarily on the financial standing of each family and on the bride and groom themselves if they are earning. Circumstances and common sense, not tradition should dictate who pays for what.

If your daughter is marrying a man who comes from a wealthy family, your future in-laws may offer to foot most of the bill, or they might pick up one or two of the big costs, such as the venue and drinks at the reception, which can be huge. Maybe you have been saving money since your precious daughter was born so that you could afford to give her a dream wedding. If so, you may prefer to cover most of the expenses. Don’t feel bad if you are the parent of the bride and can’t afford to pay for the entire wedding. Very few people expect that anymore. Don’t let your ego or pride come into play. If you can’t afford it, don’t pretend that you can.

The best way to decide who will pay for what is for both families and the couple to sit down together and have a frank discussion about what each party can afford to contribute. Some people are terribly uncomfortable discussing their finances in front of others, so handle this with sensitivity. Separate meetings are sometimes necessary, but it’s best if you can get everyone together at one time to brainstorm and share information and finalize arrangements. If family A insists on inviting 2,000 guests and Family B can only afford to fund 100, let Family B pay for 1,900!

Nowadays with many couples waiting longer to get married and can afford to foot some or all the expenses themselves, expenses shared quite evenly. In a growing number of cases, the couple and both sets of parents split the bill.
Parents, don’t jeopardise your retirement for your children’s wedding.

It is nice to always put your children first, but it is not necessarily always a good thing. You cannot afford to sacrifice your retirement to fund their weddings; you must always be able to take care of your own needs. If you don’t take care of your retirement, there is no guarantee that your children will be able or willing to take care of you; it might be nice to move in with your children in your later years for care, but not because you are broke. Your retirement planning, your emergency fund, medical insurance are goals that must be a priority.

Till debt us do part
Some couples, or their families, decide they simply must pull out all the stops for a wedding. They want nothing but the best, even if they can’t afford to pay for it. To facilitate their dreams, they take out wedding loans. Avoid going into debt for the wedding dress, the wedding or the honeymoon. It is never wise to begin a marriage carrying significant debt. But for parents who are up against time constraints, borrowing sometimes makes more sense than selling assets. But if you do have to borrow, it should be because there is an imminent inflow to offset the loan. You don’t want to be paying interest to offset wedding costs; that money would be put to far better use deployed in other investments or in a retirement account.

The Rings
Although the rings are important, don’t spend more money on them than you can reasonably afford. It’s completely ludicrous to spend millions on a diamond ring to dazzle friends, when you don’t have the money for rent or for a down payment on a house. A ring is a symbol of marriage; focus on this and not the monetary value. For your fifth anniversary, you can consider upgrading the ring if it is that important.

Weddings can be overwhelming and expensive; Starting out with millions of naira in debt is great stress for a newly married couple who need to plan for a family and look for suitable housing. What matters most is to start with a firm and solid foundation and build a future together. Remember, you can have a beautiful memorable wedding without breaking the bank.

Photo Credit: Pablo Hidalgo |

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. EE

    December 20, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Weddings are overrated, just ambush your priest and get it over with, no expenses involved.

    Make your diamond anniversary the occasion to party to. Then you’ll have children to sic the costs on.

    • Baby gurl

      December 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      I dream of doing this too!!!

  2. Aiphee

    December 20, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    yes o! weddings are overrated

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