Friday, October 1, 2010

Nigerian (African) Wedding Checklist

Have you ever wished you could find a checklist that was catered more towards the timeline of an African wedding? I'm sure there are many.

Amazingly enough, I was able to find a wedding checklist that does just that. Now that I will begin planning my own wedding, it will be quite helpful for me. Although it is somewhat similar to any of the other checklists that other websites have, there is a twist. Enjoy!!!
10 to 12 months before the wedding
  • Book the wedding hall (fix time, officiant)
  • Book time for rehearsal in the wedding hall the 1 or 2 days before the wedding
  • Book Reception Hall: consider a place close to the wedding hall
  • Choose someone to decorate the hall
  • Book hall for the traditional wedding: (In the U.S., most people do this wedding in their backyards)
  • Choose your wedding colors. Remember wedding colors for

--- Bride’s side for traditional wedding;

--- Groom’s side for traditional wedding; and

--- For the wedding.

  • Inform Your Wedding Party: You don’t need to know every detail of what your bridesmaids and groomsmen will wear at this point, but you do need to ask them this early so they can plan for the expense. Be honest in giving them a sense of what it might cost. Consider either asking on the phone or sending out an e-mail or letter that really expresses why you think they are perfect for the position.
  • Save the Date Announcements: Now that you have fixed halls and fixed the dates, send save the date announcements (it is perfectly acceptable in the Nigerian community to do this via E-mail. You may consider sending a beautiful power point e-mail attachment to announce the date.) If you are expecting guests to come in from Nigeria, you may want to send save the date announcements in the mail to your parents’ friends and “dignitaries” (have a family member send them out in Nigeria to avoid the cost of mailing from here).
  • Guests List: Prepare a guest list and from our experience, expect at least 100 more people to show up (unless you state unequivocally that the wedding is “strictly by invitation” or “no kids are allowed.” Even then, still plan for 50 more)
  • Choose a Caterer: you need to do this early because Nigerian wedding caterers can typically handle only one wedding per day because of how they are staffed. If you really want a particular caterer, you may want to book before that one is taken.
  • Choose a DJ/Live Band for Reception: same issues as with the caterer.

8 to 10 Months Before the Wedding

  • Aso-ebi (aka and co): Determine if you’d like your friends to wear similar outfits during your wedding. The people chosen to do this are usually referred to as the hosts and hostesses. If you choose to do this at your wedding, here are some tips:

--- Choose one of your friends that you trust to handle things from start to finish to coordinate this for you. This could be a really detailed part of the wedding and there are usually lots of questions, so have someone else take care of it.

--- Determine the material, head tie etc

--- Ask the coordinator to determine how many people are interested in buying (some people ask only certain people to buy and others open it up to all their friends. It’s all up to you. Remember, though, that some people get really offended if they are not asked and others may feel burdened if they are.)

--- Ask around for help with finding someone to help you buy materials from Nigeria.

Note: Your friends typically will pay for the clothes. If you want something really expensive, though, you may want to consider paying for part of it.

  • Buy your wedding dress (and purse, veil, shoes). Make sure the dress meets the dress code of the organization (church/mosque) in which the service will take place.
  • Order Bridesmaids dresses
  • Book DJ for your wedding ceremony
  • Book Photographer
  • Book Videographer
  • Order wedding cake
  • Reserve hotel rooms for out of town guests
  • Honeymoon

6 to 8 Months Before the Wedding

  • Reserve rental equipment (if you’ll be needing any for the traditional wedding)
  • Book hair dresser
  • Book someone to do your head tie and make up (your mum and aunties are not necessarily the best people to tie your head tie for you. Look out for people who do a good job and consider paying someone if needed. It’s an Art and not everyone knows how to do it)
  • Arrange for help with dressing up in traditional outfits. If you’re Efik, for example, and want to have the pins on your hair, you really must find someone way in advance who will be available that day to do this.
  • Create your wedding website (if you plan to have one)
  • Register for gifts: it’s good to do this early because the “D” day is still far away and you can take your time to choose what you really want.
  • Arrange transportation (to wedding ceremony and from wedding ceremony hall to reception). If not booking limos, confirm whose cars you’ll be using and who’ll be driving. We strongly suggest booking a reputable limo service. Nigerian weddings tend to be all-weekend long affairs and people get tired and stressed. It might be worth the expense to get a limo service.

--- 1 limo for bridesmaids and bride

--- 1 limo for groom and groomsmen

  • Order programs
  • Order invitations
  • Purchase and rent groom and groomsmen’s outfit
  • Purchase wedding rings
  • Rehearsal Dinner: Determine whether you want to have a rehearsal dinner and when. It’s common to have this the evening before the wedding in the U.S. However, Nigerians in the U.S. usually opt for either placing the traditional wedding on the night before the wedding or having an engagement party or some other “young ones” party on that night.

4 to 6 Months Before the Wedding

  • Choose M.C. for traditional wedding and reception
  • Give a list of important shots to your wedding photographer
  • Discuss your menu with your caterer
  • Meet with your officiant to discuss the service
  • Write your vows
  • Mail Wedding Invitations (if overseas; 2 – 4 months if within the US)
  • Meet with your hairstylist and/or make up stylist to experiment with styles and colors
  • If your state requires it, make blood test appointments
  • Complete name change documents (if changing names)
  • Send wedding announcements to local newspapers

2 to 4 Months Before the Wedding

  • Go over your checklist and make sure you are on target.
  • Do anything you’ve not done yet
  • Apply for a marriage license

Month of the Wedding

  • E-mail schedule of events to members of the wedding party
  • Have a final fitting for your gown (you should have a bridesmaid there to learn how to bustle your train and fasten and buttons)
  • Check in with your bridesmaids and groomsmen:

--- Make sure they have all their outfits,

--- Confirm when they are arriving,

--- Answer any last minute questions

  • Check in with your vendors: confirm arrival and delivery times
  • Make sure you have your wedding program
  • Write thank you notes for gifts you receive
  • Ask a member of your wedding party to contact invited guests who have not RSVP’d

1 to 2 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Arrange seating plan (most Nigerian weddings just let people sit wherever they want. You might want to leave things that way)
  • Let your caterer know the final number of attendees
  • Prepare your toasts for the reception (and rehearsal dinner if having one)
  • Break in wedding shoes (by wearing them around the house on the same kind of floor you’d have in the wedding)
  • Pick up your dress (make sure it fits)
  • Determine decorations for cars (if doing so)
  • Practice your dance moves for the wedding(s). (if necessary)
  • “Spray Money:” You will dance and it is a given that people will “spray” you. Put a trusted friend or family member in charge of picking up the money and keeping it for you. This amount can be quite substantial and people do it intending for you to get the money and appreciate it. Don’t let little children or plain thieves pick the money for themselves (that said, don’t go after anyone who picks up your money for himself).
  • Communicate with the traditional wedding MC and other important guests about your expected order of events for the traditional wedding. Consider preparing an informal program and informing the MC and parents, and close uncles and aunts on both sides of how you plan for things to go.

1 Day Before the Wedding

  • Do something to relax and enjoy the company of your out-of-town friends
  • Assign responsibilities to your wedding party (greeting and seating guests, checking on vendors). Designate people to share your favors. Consider creating packages that include each so you can distribute easily at the wedding.
  • Designate a friendly person to help any out of country visitors feel relaxed. This person simply keeps an eye on those few visitors and watches to see if at any point they seem in any way confused. A simple “do you need anything” can go a long way.
  • Confirm transportation, photographer, make up artist (or hair), caterer, cake, decorator for hall and church, church arrangements
  • Have a manicure and pedicure
  • Rehearsal Ceremony
  • Explain logistics of transportation to wedding and reception (if necessary)
  • Remind everyone of times (and hand out a schedule to everyone in the wedding party)
  • Provide printed directions
  • Hold rehearsal dinner or whatever you planned for the evening

Wedding Day

  • Give wake up calls to wedding party
  • Decorate cars for Wedding Party (if necessary)
  • Give gifts to your wedding party (if planning to do so; not always necessary)

2 to 4 Weeks After the Wedding

  • Call all the “mommies” and “daddies” that came for your wedding
  • Call all members of your wedding party
  • Gradually get to all the guests who gave you gifts
  • You should also send thank you notes, but thank you notes don’t appear to be as important in the Nigerian setting as making that phone call to say thank you for coming.

**Of course, this list is not completely comprehensive, and the likelihood is that I will do some of the things on this list differently than what has been stipulated. Please utilize as you see fit.**


BadBam said...

this is really great... just what I was looking for... I've just bookmarked ur website :)

Anonymous said...

Very detailed. I wished I saw this when I was planning my wedding six yrs ago.I recommend this to all soon-to-be-Nigerian brides!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. This is a life saver. Very applicable to a Nigerian wedding. I was thinking how I will plan everything. You have just blessed me.

God bless you real good.

Mobola33 said...

ah God bless you!!!Just what i needed xxxx

Jasmin Braithwaite said...

I'm living in New York City, U.S., and marrying a wonderful man from Nigeria. This is helpful information. But, I must correct a comment you made in the 10-12 month section about most people in the U.S. using their backyard for wedding receptions - that's not true at all. Most of us rent wedding Halls, and maybe only a quarter of the people here have outdoor receptions. It's not a good idea because it might rain outside.

Babes said...

thank you sooooo much, this means a lot to me.

sarafina said...

You just eased my stress but how come you didn't talk about cakes? I love those. Thank u so much for this. It's what I need right now

Anonymous said...

Originally published on.

Anonymous said...

so detailed, thxs for saving me the stress.