I can’t believe it has been one year since my traditional wedding! Man, time really does fly. 🙂 My traditional wedding was hands down one of the most amazing days of my life.
Good food, good music, GREAT people, and not to mention traditionally marrying the love of my life. *swoon face* As a Nigerian, I love my culture, celebrating with loved ones, and any opportunity to share our rich traditions with others.
But let’s talk about the real. Planning a traditional Nigerian wedding is no easy feat. The learning curve is steep, but with my seven tips, you will be well on your way to having the best traditional Nigerian wedding ever!
1. Talk to your family
Tradition is all about the parents. I cannot stress this enough. You cannot have a TRADITIONal wedding without tradition, and guess who teaches tradition? Your parents and family. This is the time to listen and learn from your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, future in-laws and any other relatives that may be the guardians of your family traditions. This is how you figure out the right and wrong way to do things.
What is the actual order of events for the ceremony?
How many outfits do you need to wear?
Who is paying for what?
The non-negotiables. Trust me. Your family will have some non-negotiables.
My husband and I are both Igbo and both from Imo State, but from different villages and local governments. Although we have very similar backgrounds, our families had certain traditions that were specific to them. We sat down with both of our parents, not once, not twice, but MULTIPLE times along the way to make sure we were keeping in line with tradition and paying due respect to our family and ancestors. I promise you this will remove half the stress from your traditional wedding preparation.
2. Weigh the PROS and CONS of a traditional wedding in Naija or “Abroad”
Having a wedding “abroad” pretty much means anywhere, but Nigeria. Typically where the bride’s or groom’s family has immigrated to (i.e. USA, UK, etc.). Some couples will not have a choice in this matter. Tradition or their families will dictate this decision, but if this is the case and you listened to Tip #1 above this will not come as a surprise. My husband and I had our traditional wedding in the US. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas and this is where my parents still reside.
If you do get a choice in this matter, things to keep in mind are:
– Costs (don’t forget about flight tickets)
– Guests (i.e. are more of your guests coming from abroad or based in Nigeria)
– Ability to allocate all the necessary items that you may need for the traditional wedding (i.e. fabrics/clothing, jewelry, traditional trinkets/decorations)
Of recent, it has become easier to find traditional items here in the US or to have them brought from Nigeria by friends or family members. My sister-in-law helped us to curate all the fabrics, head ties, jewelry and traditional trinkets in the markets in Nigeria. We even had groomsmen’s and bridesmaids/”maidens” first outfits sewn in Nigeria. My in-laws then brought all the items over with them when they were coming.
3. Budget and Timeline
If you have followed the first two tips, then you are ready to create a budget and timeline. A traditional wedding is just like any wedding and still a major event that requires major planning to ensure success. It should be treated no differently. Unfortunately, during my planning, there weren’t many resources I could find that were specific to Nigerian traditional weddings. But I do advise to decide on a budget and stick to it! I cannot stress that enough.
I also advise creating a timeline of events. I created one that detailed the start time of the event, the start time of each segment of the day’s agenda and the allotted time for each segment. I am sure it is not a secret that sometimes Nigerians/Africans let time get away from us (LOL), so I wanted to make sure our emcee had a specific set of instructions in hand that mapped out the event so he could keep everyone on track. You may even want to consider a planner or entrusting a relative(s) to help oversee the day’s events. For other super-detail-oriented-type-A personality brides like me 😉 , click here for downloadable templates you can use to plan your day.
For us, our families were pretty involved in the planning. They asked us our opinions on decor and food and pretty much took care of a lot of the little details. The hubby and I were very much appreciative of this show of love from both of our families.
4. Choose a LARGE venue
Although you will personally invite guests, traditional weddings are typically open to all. And this often means that if you invite 200 people you should anticipate double that number of guests. For our traditional wedding, we invited about 400 people. YES. Four hundred. My parents are very well known within the Nigerian community, not to mention all the people that I know. Needless to say, well over 700 people showed up to celebrate with us on that day.
It is also a good idea to keep some extra chairs in the back of the room or easily accessible so they can be pulled out as overflow/for latecomers.
5. Guest List/Asoebi
Make sure you do not skip a formal invite. Whoever must be formally invited needs to be sent an invite. I can’t refer back to Tip #1 enough. Make sure you talk with your families about who to include on your invite list. This also goes for Asoebi or “special friends/guest”. Typically these distinguished invitees will receive a chosen fabric to make an outfit for the festivities. You may even divide them into smaller groups and have multiple fabric options. We did this.
Just ensure that anyone that needs to be included is asked to take part. Yes, there is always room for discussion with your parents/family about who to include or not include, but remember when it comes to Nigerian traditional weddings, you want to minimize any actions that would be deemed disrespectful. Weddings are about inclusion and merging of families. No one wants to feel left out.
6. Pick a bomb hashtag!
Get your guests involved! Social media is one of the simplest ways to engage your guests as well as create an easy highlight reel. On that day everything will happen so fast, but having a hashtag will keep all these moments in one place. Try to be as unique as possible. Using a combination of your names with the year is the often go to. I have also seen some other super creative ones that play on common wedding phrases/words. If you have a hashtag in mind, check to make sure you won’t be sharing your it with anyone else. Check out our wedding hashtag, #KeleChika. It is a combination of both our Igbo names. We used it for both the traditional and white weddings.
7. Relax and Enjoy!
You and everyone else involved in the success of your big day will have such a great time if you do this. If you prepared well, God will take care of the rest. Trust me. 😉
Want to see more pics from our traditional wedding? Check out the slideshow below.
Oh did I mention my amazing Hubby gifted me with a new car? Total plot twist. See my tears of joy LOL.
Click here for a cute highlight video one of my bridesmaids made to capture the surprise moment.
Click here for our YouTube highlight video.
Happy (traditional wedding) anniversary to the love of my life!
Do you agree with the tips I mentioned? What are some additional tips that you have for planning traditional weddings? Share in the comments below and feel free to share on social media by using the super-easy share buttons! Also, subscribe to my blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to hear about posts/giveaways!