I’d been thinking about what my first post this year should be and it just hit me: why not write about the first major thing that happened in 2019? My wedding!
I’ve always been a fan of small, low key weddings. So small that you do it at home and so low key there’s no noise about it. I love how Simi and Adekunle Gold kept their wedding quiet or at least tried to.
From ‘meeting the parents’ to the actual date of the Nikkah (Islamic marriage), we had less than 2 months. I wouldn’t say it was rushed, but everything certainly happened quickly. My dad insisted he wanted the whole business to be done with soon and his plan was to host a small thing at his place. On her part, my mom decided she was going to throw us a ‘proper’ wedding party later. Don’t ask.
January 3 (the wedding date) came and surprise surprise, pops threw a bigger party than we had imagined. There was a band and the food never stopped flowing, but it was still a small sitting room affair. At this point, we were thinking “is there any point throwing another party?” Yorubas never turn down an opportunity to party, so you can guess the answer.
Overall, the wedding didn’t cost us much because we were deliberate about keeping costs low. Would you like to do the same?
How to Plan Your Own Low Key Wedding in Nigeria
Getting married is not cheap, but you can save costs by cutting down on wedding spend. I’ll share some of what I did to have a simple, frugal, low key wedding and how you can do same.
Don’t tell vendors it’s a wedding unless you have to
My introduction and Nikkah happened on the same day and I didn’t want to give any vendor the picture that it was going to be a grand thing when in fact the plan was to have a small occasion.
Makeup artists, photographers, etc, tend to charge different rates for weddings and I wasn’t about to spend money I didn’t exactly have. I even considered doing my own makeup. I only got a makeup artist about a week to D-day and I told her it was my introduction. When she told me her price, I breathed a sigh of relief and didn’t even bother to haggle.
The makeup artist was the only vendor I dealt with personally, but you may have to liaise with the photographer, caterer or band/DJ. I’m not going to tell you to lie. How can you lie that you’re having a wedding anyway? But if it’s a small affair, emphasize that it is.
Do it at home or some other free venue
The venue is one of the biggest cash guzzlers. Why pay for an expensive venue when you can get one for free? It could be your house, an uncle’s house or somewhere else. I grew up on a campus, so I imagined I would get married in one of the gardens in the fairly large compound. And yes, a garden wedding would have been super cute!
Design your own dress
I considered making my dress myself. In fact, I had downloaded patterns and gotten myself a brand new sewing machine. But alas, I saw the expensive-looking fabrics my mom sent me and changed my mind real quick. Thankfully, I knew someone who could produce a fantastic dress at a good price and in good time. I dug into Pinterest and pulled up inspiration for my dress:
I wanted black and white, grey and white or blue and grey. You can see what I eventually went with below:
You don’t have to do the sewing yourself, but look for designs you like and have your tailor make something for you. There’s also the option of renting or buying a used one. I don’t know what the rates are, but making your own may still be cheaper.
Tip: Use Pinterest for wedding dress ideas. There are so many styles and colour combinations to inspire you.
Use family and friends as vendors
This is one of the best ways to ensure you have your frugal, low key wedding. Get a friend to make your dress or have your brother be your DJ. I’ll say this though – it’s better to hire a professional if you’re not certain your friends or family members will do a good job. It all gets down to finding the right balance between quality of service and cost.
Warning: please don’t expect friends and family to do stuff for free when they normally charge for their services. Hopefully, they gift you a discount or even free service, but try not to ask for it. If their service is expensive, get another vendor.
Offer publicity for discounts
Creatives never want to hear “I’ll give you exposure for your service.” We all want money please. That being said, you could ask a food or snack vendor to give you a discount while you let them leave their cards or flyers on tables, especially if they’re fresh in the business. Not everyone will be willing to accept this, but it could work. Don’t demand too much of a discount though.
DIY as much as you can
This one may not be for everyone, but my fellow DIY lovers shouldn’t have a problem with this. Doing stuff yourself will save you money in most cases. You could make your own decorations or use already available items to create a unique look you’d love. Ever use Canva? Why not make your invitation cards yourself?! You could print them if you like, but you could also send digital copies only.
Have someone else pay for stuff
I don’t know how it works in other parts of the world, but when a Yoruba man or woman is getting married, family members tend to send monetary contributions. Whether it’s 5,000 Naira or 300,000 Naira, never say no to cash. I had a low key wedding, but starting a new life cost a lot of money!
Also, I always go with the money when someone asks whether I want cash or a present except in cases where we mutually agree on what they’re getting me. But that’s just me. I like to pick out my stuff. I’m particular about things like colour and model when it comes to anything I intend to use.
Don’t tell too many people
If you want to limit the number people attending or talking about your wedding, don’t tell them. It’s that simple. I told a few people I was going to be a Mrs on the day I got married and many others, after. Only family and close friends knew beforehand.
Don’t forget your house!
Getting married isn’t just about the wedding day. You have to get your new home ready by fixing up the decor and all the stuff that make a home. Don’t forget food, especially if you prefer to buy in bulk like I do.
Final Thoughts on Having a Cheap, Low Key Wedding
Whether you want to have a small affair with no more than 20 people or something grander, but as low cost as possible, I believe my tips will help. The key is to be creative about ways you can save money.
Cheers to all the folks who got married on a low key and to those who intend to. Wishing you safe travels on your life’s journey with your beloved.