My husband popped the question on the 1st of January 2016 and we didn’t get married until the 1st and 3rd of December, 2016. I had my introduction in April after which I started planning my wedding! That’s 8 months of planning for #PDA16!
I look back now and wish that there were more people who were real with me about the process of planning weddings. I wish more people told me how best to deal with vendors, how to manage the stress and that if you’re not careful, the process of planning a wedding can actually put a strain on your relationship.
I can tell you for free that if you base your wedding journey on what you see on Social Media, you will have the shocker of your life.
Hence, this article has been put together to prevent brides from making some mistakes I made and just make lives a little easier.
We all know how big the wedding industry was in 2016. I got married in 2016, I have been a bridesmaid and a chief bridesmaid numerous times hence, I guess I’m in a safe position to give the following advice to upcoming brides:
1. Wedding Venue
Immediately you have your date, book your venue: No matter how far your wedding is, please book your venue down. It is better to have a place reserved and to ask for a refund later if you change your mind, than to not have any hall at all as months draw close. There are so many people getting married on so many Saturdays, you will be surprised how many halls have been booked even 2 years ahead. In addition, consider the distance of your reception venue from your church. You do not want guests to be held up in traffic. Some will go back home!
DO NOT ever select your vendors because of the number of Instagram followers they have, because they are popular or in summary- because you want to trend! I cannot go into details on all that I experienced with vendors. I actually selected some vendors based on the works I saw but I can tell you, the vendors that gave me the least or zero stress were the ones I selected based on referrals. The best way to select your wedding vendors is based on referrals. Let someone who has used the vendor be the one to link you both up. Do not ever pick vendors based on what you see on Instagram/Facebook! Never!!!
3. Planner or Coordinator
Do not assume you can do things all by yourself. Planning a wedding is stressful. If you don’t want a planner or a coordinator you should have friends or family members help you with the running around. If you do not have a 9-5 job and have more free time than normal, then you might not need a planner. A coordinator will be just fine for you. However, if you have a day job and are really busy, you definitely need a planner. Now don’t assume that you will be 100% jobless and the planner will take up all the responsibilities, it is your wedding so you will still work closely with the planner. There are times when the planner will ask to see you; you both will be in constant communication exchanging ideas etc. No matter which you plan to go with Planner, family or coordinator, you will still have some work to do as a bride, so get ready!
4. Bridal Train and Friends
It is very important to select diligent and hardworking bridesmaids or groomsmen. People that you know will give their time and go all out for you. In my opinion, the ideal number for bridesmaids or groomsmen is 3-8! This is because you will have to consider the cost of accommodation, feeding, transportation and much more. From experience, the smaller the bridal party, the less stress you will have.
It is also very important to be sensitive with your bridal train and even friends. This is where I bring in the idea of pre-wedding parties and aso ebi. It is really insensitive to do aso ebi of over 50k or even 10k when you have friends that do not have steady income. I didn’t do aso ebi and I got married! Please consider friends when you are also planning bridal showers, pre-wedding party, pre-wedding dinner and much more. Consider the pockets of your people.
In addition, it is necessary to reward your bridesmaids. Being a bridesmaid is not easy. Contributing money, time and “ginger” just to make you happy, is not the easiest thing. It is important to buy a gift or two just to appreciate your bridesmaids for all that they did for you
5. “Ember” Weddings
This I can say was one of my surprises. No one told me that December weddings were relatively more expensive. Luckily for me, I got engaged in January and I had booked all my vendors down by May after my introduction however, there are only few vendors that didn’t give me that “Ah! December wedding! Let me call you back about the cost”. I never and still don’t understand why, but if you want to save some money, don’t get married in December except December is such a special month to you.
6. Include your Partner
You will be a lucky bride, if you have a partner that doesn’t “drag” wedding details with you. I was a lucky one. My husband cared less about the details all he cared about was how much money we will save from what was planned in our wedding budget. He was in charge of the funds and I was in charge of the ideas so, we had to discuss everything because there is no way I will have an idea approved without funds and there is no way he will pay for something that didn’t come out of an idea. We had to always talk. We had a group chat; my planner, my sisters, my husband and myself. Everyone knew what was going on, vendors booked, payments that had been made etc. I have heard of grooms who were surprised on their wedding day and that caused arguments afterwards.
7. Make sure your Wedding Portrays who You Are
Please this is also a very important point. I advise that every bride should have a theme! This also guides the planner and the decorator on what to do. However, your theme should reflect who you are. Don’t ever do a wedding just because of the trend. I had a fairytale wedding because I think I’m a princess – LOL! And blue is my best colour, hence the “ice themed wedding” idea where I had a mix of white and blue décor. My best friend had a movie themed wedding as a movie producer that she is and it sure contributed to the happiness of her day. Do your wedding for you and not for anyone else!
May I also add here, do whatever you want to do on your wedding day. I love to sing, my husband loves to dance and sing. I remember thinking to myself – “Am I sure I really want to sing on my wedding day with the calibre of people coming and the journalists’ around?” What if I go off tune, what if? What if? Hey! I sang and I was so happy I did that!
My husband loves to dance, our first dance was first a slow song and then we spiced things up and danced till we could feel our feet no more. You do not have to follow any status quo-please do whatever you want to do to make sure you are happy on your day.
Listen to family and friends but make sure you put yourself first- It is your wedding!
8. Enjoy your day, Not many things go as Planned
Your first dance song may start playing from the 2nd verse, one of your bridesmaids may not be able to make it, your zip might pop, the makeup artist might send her trainee assistant instead, a musician you paid for might not show up, food might finish, someone you didn’t give an invite will come to dance with you, fireworks might go up at the wrong time, so many things can go wrong but you need to focus on what matters- You and your man! Your new life and beautiful future ahead! Care less about this details- they don’t matter!
Make sure you dance! Enjoy your day and dance well! This is one of the many secrets of getting more money from your wedding! When you dance, people will spray you. Don’t sit down crying over the light that didn’t come up or the earrings that broke on your way to the hall!
Enjoy your day! Dance!!!
9. Wait for Pictures! Everyone Else Will Wait
Pictures are the most sacred things to behold after a wedding. This is why you also have to make sure you smile all through your day. Plan your day well and allow 1 hour at the least for pictures. Tell the aunties and uncles to step aside and call your photographers forward! Pose! Smile! Take it all in! Don’t rush into the reception hall! Allow at least an hour between church and reception for your pictures! Take pictures! Take as many! While walking down the aisle, smile! Cry if you want to! While dancing with your groom, tell your planner to tell everyone to go off the dance floor so your photographer will capture the moment. Go around tables at some point and take pictures with friends. Make sure you do! Walk like a queen, take your time. It’s your day, create moments. Cry, laugh, jump do anything and when you look back at the pictures, you will be happy you created those moments!
10. Don’t Break the Bank. After the Wedding Comes the Marriage.
There are so many ways to save money and still have a banging wedding. The important things to spend money on are Food, Drinks and Music. These three are the success triangle for a great wedding. Get a good DJ, get as much food and get as much drinks (Water and alcohol are very important depending on your social circle).
The other things are secondary. Don’t break the bank on the minute things. Natural flowers vs artificial flowers? What will natural flowers do for your marriage? Dior chairs vs plastic chairs? I don’t even remember any chair I have sat on in any wedding. Designer dresses and shoes – How many people will really bend down to see your shoes or check the back of your dress for the label? If you can afford the Louboutins and the Vera Wangs, and still have money for the marriage- please go for it. But if you can’t, please note that you will still be happily married and these material things contribute zero to your marriage. For Dami and I, we had an amazing wedding and the after party was a hit – food wasted, drinks wasted, our DJ was the hit but what gave us more joy was how much money we saved and used for more activities during honeymoon and for setting up our home. Can I point out here that the first few months of the marriage, a lot of expenses are needed for setting up the home so please when budgeting for your wedding, include the budget for the 1st 3 months as well and DO NOT SPEND IT! After the wedding, you will get praises and also get goodbyes and then you will be on your own! So think mostly about the future than on one day. However, make sure you plan wisely to enjoy that one day to the fullest.
11. PRAY! PRAY!! PRAY!!!
When I asked brides about their experience when planning their wedding, almost all of them included this point. Marriage is an institution ordained by God hence, the devil is not happy when two people want to get marriage. I can go all spiritual but I won’t for now. Many things happen when you are about to get married. Some people have even broken up in the process. Some fall sick, so many things happen. The only way you can have a seamless process is when you include GOD in the mix. Please pray with your partner daily, fast if you can, pray with your bridal party and ask your extended family to put you all in prayers! This way, absolutely nothing will come in your way!
BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL UPCOMING COUPLES! Here’s wishing you a lovely day and stress-free process.
BellaNaija Weddings will feature Phoebe and Dami – the #PDA16 wedding this January. Look out for it here!
Photo Credit: Jide Odukoya Photography | @jopstudios