A DOZEN DOS AND DONTS OF NIGERIAN WEDDING PLANNING
By Joy Edoriagba
1. Do try not to expect anything from anyone- that way you’re not disappointed. If you make plans based on money you’re expecting from family and friends, you may sadly find that some are unable to give you as much as you expected, and others unable to give you anything at all. Cut your coat according to your fabric; anything else that comes in is a nice bonus
2. Don’t start planning your wedding until you both have agreed on a budget based on thorough research. Recently married friends are especially helpful here.
3. Do paint a clear picture of your wedding before you start planning. Will it be a big affair with lots of pomp or a simple blessing ceremony in the pastor’s office? Will you have a reception or give out take-away packs of food and drinks instead? Will you have a big Traditional Wedding and a quiet Church Wedding, or vice-versa? Will it be a one-day, two-day or three-day affair? Will you have a bridal train or just your maid of honour and best man? Will you include children in your bridal train? If you will, who should be in charge of coordinating them? And so on...
4. Don’t leave out pre-marital counselling, whether you are wedding in a church or not. Even if you’ve read a trillion books and believe you know everything, the importance of pre-marital counselling cannot be overemphasised. This isn’t Jand or Yankee. This is Naija. Trust me; you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.
5. Do identify the key players in both families (actually, the four families- maternal and paternal relatives on both sides), and ensure that you carry them along and seek their opinion regularly. It’s no use pretending that they are not that important or that the wedding is/should be about both of you and your immediate families. We are Africans, and that kind of stubborn independence will only see your wedding date, wedding colours and seating arrangements changed 20 times.
6. Don’t do anything because people are doing it; do what gives you joy. My colleague Bukola is getting married on the same day as I am. She’s giddy with happiness just looking forward to seeing her guests wearing her wedding aso-ebi (uniform). Yours truly, on the other hand, would hate nothing more than to look around and see guests at my wedding looking so identical. Bukola told me herself that I am lucky to be free from the aso-ebi buying and selling stress; even so she wouldn’t give it up for anything! You get the point?
7. Do make sure that your Church is licensed, if you’re getting married in a church. Otherwise, (I’m sure your pastors will inform you) make sure you do your registry wedding and then the Blessing of Marriage Ceremony afterwards. There is nothing like “Church Wedding”; there’s the Traditional Marriage which is under Customary Law, and there’s Marriage under The Act which is done in a government registry or a licensed place of worship. If your church isn’t licensed and you “wed” there, you’re not legally married, and that pretty paper they give you is just that- pretty paper.
8. Don’t forget about your friends. Regardless of whether they are married or single, true friends can help you remember what’s truly important when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and their counsel is invaluable. They can help you plan, raise funds, shop, and all the other nice things friends do for friends. They also help to make sure your life isn’t on hold just because you’re getting married (have you typed those notes your boss wanted? Have you called up the guest speaker for the next Youth Fellowship meeting? Have you even eaten today? Aha.) I’m assuming of course, that you can differentiate real friendship from growing up together, meeting and playing on Facebook, being old school mates, or things like that.
9. Do make sure that your maid of honour knows exactly what you need her to do. Even on your Traditional Wedding day, she is your personal assistant. Write notes/lists for her so she knows what to keep an eye on. Having someone who knows you well supervising things will help ensure that there are no photos of you craning your neck and frowning.
10. Don’t despair if you find that you’re no longer excited about your wedding. Sometimes this happens because you realise it’s not your wedding anymore (even though you and/or your fiancé may be paying for it all), and you just want to be married to the man of your dreams and get on with your life together. At times like this, throwing a “wedding” for other people may seem like an obligatory, albeit irritating, waste of time and money, but be encouraged; you are not alone, and this too shall pass.
11. Do watch out for the “I’m already married” feeling that settles over you after your Introduction. Standing before your parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and in-laws to be and publicly declaring “Yes, I accept this man, I will marry him” is a deeply moving, and binding experience that will make you vulnerable to the most intense sexual temptations you may have had to face. If you do not look at his handsome face and repeat, “He is not yet my husband; he is not yet my husband” as many times as possible, you may end up ruining all your hard work over the years (or months) by stealing from your wedding night, or starring in your very own Nollywood movie- The Pregnant Bride.
12. Don’t let anything weigh you down! Have you sinned? Repent and get back on your feet. Have you grown too fat for your dress? There are solutions; Google can help you find them. Does the whole planning thing seem overwhelming? It won’t last forever. Are your new in-laws annoying you? Pray, smile and bear it; this is part of reverencing your husband, which the Bible instructs us to do (thinking of his “darlingness” at such annoying times really, really helps.) There’s grace enough for you!
Hope this helps. Congratulations!
Naija Brides! What did I leave out?