How Do You Plan a Lagos Wedding on a Budget?

July 21, 2022

When it comes to owambes, Lagos takes the cake with planning things out. But how much does it cost to put together a wedding that actually bangs? In this article, five Nigerian women broke things down. 

Adeola* , 30, wedded in Ikeja

April 2022 was when I got married and I planned most of it with my mum. We only hired a planner to handle coordination on the wedding day. The initial budget was ₦20 million and my parents were meant to cover most of the bill because it was a cultural thing. I’m Yoruba while my husband is Igbo. Traditionally, in Yoruba land, the bride’s family is the host. But in modern-day weddings like mine, the groom’s family contributes financially too. 

Beyond the culture factor, my husband’s family had less than 100 out of the 500 guests we targeted. I had a larger family based in Lagos and coming in from Kwara state too, so we had to cover those expenses. The 500 people were even a gamble because I was the last child getting married. With my older siblings, we ended up with over 1000 guests. It was hard to be strict with such a large attendee list. And Nigerians no dey RSVP invitations; trust me, I tried. 

Anyway, as a caterer, I was able to cut back our ₦20m budget to ₦15m. It may not sound like a huge difference, but trust me, putting ₦5m back in the bank when you’re getting married is a huge feat. The ₦15m covered both the engagement party and wedding. 

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Wedding planner

The most prominent wedding planners in the game were charging us between ₦1m – ₦2.5m. The not-so-big ones went for ₦500k. But I ended up getting a friend to help out and she took ₦250k for coordinating the wedding day. 

Dress and makeup

My wedding dress and other outfits were the same approach. One dress from any big brand was going for ₦1m – ₦1.5m and upwards. Initially, I was willing to rent a dress at ₦200 – ₦300k, but I ended up finding an upcoming designer willing who made a custom piece for a little over that range. The engagement outfit was the same price, and I kept my accessories under ₦50k.

My husband didn’t also stress. He used an upcoming designer as well and paid ₦60,000 for the suit. He had a shirt he wanted to wear already, but the tie, pocket square and boutonnière all cost ₦11,500 while his shoes cost about ₦20,000.

We all know bridal makeup and gele are expensive. And for the engagement and wedding, I’d be paying ₦1m upward if I used a premium service. But my friend recommended someone who was doing a promo package at the time and paid  ₦140k for everything.

Food

The catering would have been our biggest cost. As a caterer myself, if I was to charge for feeding 500 guests, their bill would look like this:

And I’d still add a 15% service and transportation charge. All for a service that isn’t premium — no fancy seafood, continental dishes, fancy dorime services or displays. But we only spent half of that amount (₦1.6m)for the engagement and wedding because we catered the event ourselves.

Venue and decorations

With all the basics settled, the venue was the next challenge to face. We were planning to get a place on Victoria Island, but when the best deal we found was ₦2.5 m, the reality of inflation dawned on me. And the venues that cost less on the island weren’t good at all. So we kuku went to face the mainland. 

In Surulere, there were only two options that could house 500 guests. One was already booked for our date while the other was under renovation. Eventually, we found a decent wedding hall in Ikeja for ₦1.5m Luckily, we got a ₦200k discount An engagement venue close by cost another ₦300k. There were cheaper options for ₦100k – ₦200k but each had one issue or the other — there were either no taps, air conditioners or security. 

The rest of the money went into items like videography, photography, catering to logistics and accommodation. But cutting costs made it possible to splurge on a few things other things, fresh flowers for my bouquet. 

Faux flowers cost ₦5k in the market. Custom-made faux flowers cost about ₦15k – ₦20k while fresh flowers cost ₦60k – ₦100k or more — roses and tulips are the most expensive. But I paid a florist ₦40k for mine.

Halima*, 28, wedded in Surulere

I got married in March 2022. I had my Nikkah ( the religious ceremony for Muslims) and reception at Surulere on the same day. 

During Yoruba weddings, the lady’s family does the planning for the wedding, but the groom and bride cook separately. I’m not sure how much my husband spent, but the budget on my side was a little over ₦2m. 

For a start, finding an affordable venue was difficult. And planning everything while I was five months pregnant didn’t make it any easier. After checking through Island locations to fit 1000 people and ending up with quotes from ₦1.6m upwards, we settled on getting an open space in Surulere. It cost us ₦600k with the tables,  and decorations and chairs cost me another ₦800k.

In between searching for the venue, my husband and I designed our wedding bands — were customised gold rings with our names on them for ₦220k.  We had these done at Ojuelegba.

The night before the wedding, family members showed up at the house. So we had to plan for food. About 20 guests showed up and we had to buy a carton of turkey and fish, half a bag of semo and 10 cups of rice. I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for food, but the most expensive thing was the two cows that cost us ₦750k.

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As for my dress and make-up, I made sure to keep it simple. The white material for my wedding dress was ₦25k while sewing it cost ₦18k. My aso oke was a bit more expensive because it was an express order. The material cost ₦35k and we spent ₦24k for sewing. 

My accessories cost ₦60k. And my nails and makeup were ₦73k. Logistics, accommodation for our family coming outside of Lagos and my hotel room were handled by my husband.

Amaka*, 28, wedded in Yaba

We planned for something very small because the wedding happened during the pandemic. Beyond the limit the government put on gatherings, we always wanted something quiet.

Our court, traditional and white wedding cost about ₦2m in total. The majority of the money went into the transportation to my village in Imo State. My husband’s people had to come down from Lagos. Hotel accommodation and transport alone cost us ₦600k. 

Igbo people also organise something called Igba Nkwu, a traditional ceremony where the groom performs rites for the bride’s kinsmen. There was a whole list with wine, foodstuff and money requests to cover. They cost about ₦350k.

The rest of the money went into my wedding dress, food and picking a small hall around Yaba. As a Deeper Life church member, I didn’t need to think about earrings, hair or makeup. Styling my natural hair myself worked fine.

Ronke*, 26, wedded in Gbagada

If you don’t have money, your wedding will stress you. Mine was relatively pricey because inflation just makes everything go up by the week these days. The exchange rate was epileptic this year [2022] so planning for 450-500 guests cost a lot. Feeding alone was more than ₦1m. Then the hall was at Gbagada and was to cost ₦1.2m – ₦1.5m on weekends. But I had my wedding on a weekday and paid ₦750k instead. There was really no way to avoid spending that much money on food and venue.

The next thing that took quite a bit of money was travelling to Akwa-Ibom. Since my father had a house in my village, the cost was on my husband to cover his family’s bus fare and hotel. That alone cost ₦500k. 

I also wanted to have a lot of memories from the experience, so I really went all out on my media team. I paid about ₦500k to cover the events across cities. It was expensive but worth it for me.

My most questionable expense was the MC service. He charged ₦250k and I’m sure we could’ve gotten someone for ₦100k for the kind of forgettable experience he provided. That money could have been spent on a wedding coordinator instead, but we move.

Another thing that takes money is designing the wedding programs for the church wedding, but I did it myself in Canva. Most people just end up leaving it in church anyway. I can’t remember how much it costs to print them, but it was way cheaper since I did it myself.

Everything eventually came down to ₦6m for other expenses like my dresses and accessories, the live band, drinks, cake and a bunch of other things I can’t remember. Honestly, even if you have a budget, add ₦1m to everything on the list to be safe, and ask yourself what the intention of every item l on your list is. If it’s to show off, remember that everybody will go home, last last.

Dolapo*, 24, wedded in Isheri

I got married in April 2022. My husband’s family took most of the financial responsibility, but my husband made sure there was a spreadsheet documenting everything.

The hall and decorations were the most expensive. We went as far as Isheri, but we still paid ₦1,660,000. The photographer my father-in-law decided to hire was also quite expensive. I didn’t understand why we needed to pay ₦750k. I tried to push back but he decided to fund it. He also hired a live band for ₦700k. I had to give up and let the man spend his money at that point.

We had about 700 guests, so the food was around ₦2m. There was lots of amala going around, a whole ram grilled in front of the church and lots of drinks. The small chops and non-alcoholic drinks came down to ₦224,700; our wedding cake was ₦100k. 

The food, venue and media coverage took the most money. I got my wedding gown for free and fixed the weave my sister gifted me for ₦4k.

Planning my wedding showed me that everyone needs good friends and family for support. It’s been three months since our wedding and we’re still getting gifts from people. It’s the most thoughtful thing.

Now that we’ve gotten the money talk out of the way, also read: 10 Things to Be Prepared for When Planning a Wedding in Nigeria

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