Planning a traditional Nigerian wedding isn’t as difficult as you’d think even from a different location – all thanks to instagram. After mine, I got a lot of DMs on who I booked, how I booked, prices, how I organised my girls (had 21 of them and 20 showed up) etc. I responded to the questions I saw but realised some weeks ago that some people sent messages I managed to miss, hence the essence of this post.
I’d also like this post to give you options of what’s out there and what to expect from who. My sister-friend, Amaka recently got married (click here for the video) so I have decided to share hers as well.
I will describe an average Igbo wedding to you (I had to do just this for my photographer still..).
ps: I arrived Nigeria 6 days (Anambra, 2 days) to my wedding and it was perfect.
The bride will wear an average of 2 looks on her day. These days, like Amaka & I did, most brides wear 3. The first look is the greet the inlaws (kene ndi-ogo)with ‘maidens’ looking like a maiden as well. The second is the essence of the day, giving your husband wine to drink (igbo-nkwu). The third look is the least important, worn just to dance and end your day.
For my 21 girls, I sold the fabric and head-tie to them via my ‘manager’ in Lagos (pay then delivery/collection to avoid debts and tales). More on people management below. Most bought between July & August.
Iku Aka (introduction)
This is where the groom comes with a few relatives/friends to the father of the brides’s home to state his intention. They come bearing kola-nuts (an important symbol of the igbo culture), money etc.
The mum of the bride, is called in after which she brings in her daughter (bride). This can be done in the absence of the bride to be honest. Neither Amaka nor I were present at ours. If she is available, she’d be asked if she knows the visitors and if their gifts can be accepted. (My dad just kept sending me photos that evening. Lol). Bride will then take her exit.
A list of things usually given to the groom to fulfil. Most times, he just pays for it all instead.
Ime Ego (bride price)
This mostly happens on that day of the wedding. Only the male older family members partake in this. Some villages have a fixed price. Most don’t, the father or older male just takes a piece or two from the bundle of money presented. ‘my daughter is not for sale’-type situation. This stage doesn’t;t take more than 30 minutes.
Igbankwu (wine carrying)
This is the actual name for an Igbo wedding. Takes place at the bride’s father’s house.
The in-laws arrive, greeted by the bride’s father and the fellow village elders (Umunna) at the entrance. The in-laws get comfortable at their seats in their section.
The mother of the bride then comes out to greet them. She is accompanied by her friends dancing in happiness.
Then the bride then shows up with dancing ladies (in my case, younger girls) looking like maidens.
At a wedding I’d attended in Enugu State back in university, the bride came out the second time to sells eggs to get ‘money she’d use at her husband’s home’.
At mine and Amaka’s our second looks was to come out with the bridesmaids (asoebi girls), search for our husband, find him, kneel in front of him and give him a cup of wine given to us by my dad (hers, a male elder).
The couple then goes to the bride’s dad who blesses them.
We also got money gifts from a group of lovely women who also prayed for us and kola-nut + ose-oji from the Umunna – we were told to eat these at midnight.
After this, the cake is cut and more dancing ensues.
My Look 1 – @dauraadee
she also made the outfits for the younger girls as well as Olga’s and Anna’s (asoebi girls) looks (tailored for N12k/£25 each). Affordable and delivered in time.
This was a hook up by my sis, Nelly. Sent my measurements down and fitted the dresses a few days before. Due to the Indian nature of the fabric I’d bought, they had to bring out the best in my outfits by attaching another fabric (N44,000) to make my corset top just the way I wanted and also give the george wrapper more life. Sewing cost about (N50,000 each / £110)
For the cost of N280,000 /£600+, I wished May8 hadn’t labelled the fabric ‘perfect for Igbo bride’ as it was more Indian and I had to spend more to get it to make sense.
Buifabrics’ piece was super stunning, romantic and just gorgeous with no extra costs attached.
Both outfits ganeared huge compliments.
Beads & Horse-Tail for Look 1:- Mum’s
Amaka’s Look 1 beads:- @godsgiftbeads
Choosing Lui as a vendor was totally random. I for some reason remembered her while hanging out with her friend in London, afternoon I asked after her, my mate showed me her IG page and I was like, ‘awww lovely, would be good to patronise and ex-QC girl’. Did just that. Prior though, I’d introduced two people to her who got their items late but still had good words to say about how she kept them in the loop politely and professionally. My neckpiece + earrings and bracelet cost N35,000/£75.
Amaka also got hers from her.
Earrings for Look 2 & Purse:– @pinkperfection_accessories
Wifey to a friend of mine I’d watched and loved the pace of her business growth. Got my purse, 2nd earrings an after-wedding party earrings from her. Got a purse that could go with the last two outfits.
Amaka also got her purse from her. Purses were N30 – N35k/£70 – £75.
MUA – @stmmagicalcreations
Very professional lady. Communication great. She arrived early and got the work done. Fell in live with her brows. Her bridal makeup + bride’s mu cost N120K/£258. This was paid for me by Nelly, my ‘planner’, friend and sister. 💕
Amaka’s MUA – @annklairmakeup
Photog – @tobi_skillful
Of all the vendors, my photographer was the most stressful. Doubt he had handled an Igbo wedding before. Unlike other photographers (e.g Amaka’s) I’d seen at work, taking charge to ensure certain shots got taken, Tobi was kinda sloppy. At the end we couldn’t get dope couple shots. Even of my girls! Thankfully the girls had great phones that took photos I could use.
We had had a misunderstanding a few days to the wedding. I’d sent him a video for inspiration + an order of photography but he focussed on the drone effects and other stuff complaining about what he’d been paid etc. Such a bad vibe and I should have taken a hint. He’d later apologised and seemed to try to understand what I meant. We never go to the getting the shots I’d requested for my girls.
I’d given my vlog camera to Ify, @iscreeem thankfully so as she captured so many precious moments. My wedding was two months and some weeks ago, I still haven’t gotten my album or video. Squeezed out the shots (mostly give general edits) finally after arguments, call ignoring and replies only after my husband had messaged/called. Still never kept his word even after that. He eventually sent me some 15 shots I’d selected to be properly edited a month and weeks after.
Had to give another photographer, @akinakintola_ on Instagram some badly edited ones to help re-work (Tobi did not send me raw files I’d requested).
Apparently he’d charged N350K/£ 752 to the person who’d gifted his services to us.
You need a photographer who would take charge of capturing moments and people strategically. This could lead to arguments with family members/friends not being where they should but the photos in the end will all be worth it, trust me. No need for sloppy.
Decor – @instinctdecor
An amazing DJ. Kept everyone dancing. Made the video that got my kene ndi Ogo video posted on @bellanaijaweddings Instagram page. He has so much life and is so talented. My husband must have booked him because my mum had mentioned someone else.
He cost about N150k (those I referred to him told me this).
Food – Mummy, Head Chef (god-mum) and friends
Asoebi fabric for my girls – Chinelo (in-law)
Girls Gele (head-wear) – @adebimpe_asooke (Ibadan-based amazing seller)
Her delivery and communication plus patience were impeecable.
Perfection. Cake was beautiful and tasty. Nelly also got her to make the small chops and bridal shower cake. Delivery and communication so perfect. Love her.
She styled my hair the way I wanted for my first outing. Punctual too. Referred to me by the MUA.
Look 1, 2 & 3 – @geoimagination
Organising my girls
First and foremost if they are your friends you’d have told them once engaged. After the congratulatory messages, some would offer help for whenever the wedding time comes. Sorting my girls out was my first step once we decided on a date, 7 months prior.
The most crucial point for a beautiful and seamless process during planning and after, is getting them involved in your process too. My friend Chioma sent me a colour circle thing to help with choices, Amaka and Michelle sent vendor links plus so many other inputs and private conversations.
I had invited 22 ladies, one was pregnant so couldn’t make it (didn’t get the fabric either). One cancelled last minute. One planned the heck out it all; fabric vendors, accessories, cake, sewing you name it, thanks so much for being a blessing that you are, Nelly!
To me, the girls getting the fabric, choosing a style, getting it sewn, and taking time off work were things I had no control over so the earlier the better. Fabric were from my husband’s wholesale cousin.. the gele’s (headwear) were by a wholesale vendor in Ibadan, @adebimpe_asooke.
Once 19 girls had purchased, I formed a WhatsApp group with 17 of them (excluding my 2 sister-in-laws), introduced everyone had a few laughs – this was in October, 19th to be precise (1.5 months to the wedding). A few days later got the sisters and 2 other ladies.
Obviously not everyone one speaks but we were able to find people who were flying from the same city to be on the same flight, some 3 people hired a mini car etc, I also pasted each person’s photos + instagram names later on just so people got familiar. On the group too we planned hotel roommates.
This group also helped Funmi who decided to plan my surprise bridal shower to do so. #thanksLove.
We also decided on the logistics and after-wedding party dress code. Obviously leaving the floor open for suggestions.
Just a big shout-out to all 20 of you that showed up for me. May God give me the strength to be there for you when you need.
Thanks so much for your time on here. I hope this was substantial enough. Feel free to drop comments or ask any questions if you’ve got.