Is it Compulsory to Have a Big Wedding in Nigeria?

Is it Compulsory to Have a Big Wedding in Nigeria?
Bride Marilyn - Photo Credit: Tap Studios
Bride Marilyn – Photo Credit: Tap Studios

Getting married is every woman’s dream. Since we were little girls while playing with Barbie and Ken, we all dreamt of the “Big Day”. I remember dreaming of walking down the aisle in my beautiful floor length wedding dress, with my Prince Charming who is all suited up in his three-piece suit and us saying the most important two letter words of our Adult life “I do” to one another.

These days the emphasis is placed on the ‘bride-to-be’ in Nigeria to host at least 300 guests, a true show stopper where family and friends come with their matching Aso Ebi in various styles. The bride’s family is to appear in a different colour and theme from the groom’s family to know who represents who on the big day. When planning a Nigerian wedding, one has to think of not just the wedding venue, but the decor, feeding guests and getting at least a three-tier wedding cake. One must also consider the outfits of the day with an option to change twice after the church/registry resulting in a minimum of 3 outfits just for the bride.

Ibilola & Dami's wedding.
Ibilola & Dami’s wedding

My question is; “Is it Compulsory to have a big wedding”, especially with Nigeria going through the worst recession in years. We all know that Nigerian weddings are not cheap because there are usually very high expectations from family and friends to have multiple options to eat and drink. They want to have fun which means you need to ensure you provide them with entertainment such as a Dj, MC, Live band or a celebrity performance from at least one artiste, depending on your pocket. Aside from the monetary aspect, some brides just want a small wedding of about 100 guests where almost everyone who attends knows one another. It’s your wedding so only invite the people you want to attend, such as your closest and dearest family and friends. Having a small wedding is very difficult for us Nigerians who have a big extended family. This is because apart from them, we will also have to consider family friends, university friends, employers, mentors, colleagues and so on. It is hard to choose who is important to attend as most of these people have watched you grow up.

Chioma & Noble Igwe Wedding Access Card
Chioma & Noble Igwe Wedding Access Card.

I am sure some ladies will agree when I say that it is not compulsory to have a big wedding. It all depends on you and your partner. What do you want? What is your budget? There is a paradigm shift amongst young Nigerians who now prefer intimate weddings whereby the attention is on the quality of the people who attend, rather than the quantity. We don’t want to deal with all the wahala associated with big weddings. We care more about having our loved one share in our special day because we understand that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We need to ensure we get it right. So, newlyweds are considering crowd control measures such as; choosing a weekday to get hitched, sending invites on short notice and even implementing the “No Invite, No Entry” policy. Every guest including their parents is given an invitation/access card and there are bouncers at the door to kick out those who show up without one.

While this works for the young couple today, the parent’s opinion differ. So how do we manage their expectation of inviting the whole community to their son or daughter’s wedding? They see getting married as one of the greatest achievements of their child’s life after graduating from University, having a great job or business or being in an influential position.

To be honest, it’s up to you what type of wedding you choose to have as long as you are realistic with yourself. Under no circumstance however, should you be pressured by your friends, parents, partner and other people in your circle of influence to have a big wedding with a festival vibe if you don’t want to. For budget and crowd control measures to achieve having that “intimate wedding”, couples should consider planning a ‘destination wedding’ instead.

Photo Credit: Mikael B
Photo Credit: Mikael B

Here are some of the benefits of having a small wedding. 

  • Spending more time mingling and socialising with closest friends and family
  • Overall better quality experience
  • Better food and bar menu so you can offer a three course sit down menu instead of buffet services
  • Sticks to schedule as there are fewer people to manage.
  • Saves money which can be used for acquiring a pair of designer shoes, going on a honeymoon, renting/furnishing your new home together, buying a new car or even starting a business. Don’t just think of now, save for the future.

What do you think? Are you still pro big wedding, or have I managed to sway you into considering a smaller wedding? Let us know your thoughts.


Mariam Tijani
Nigeria Born, England Raised & now Lagos Resident. I love Fashion, Design, Adventure, World Cuisine, Music, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I am on a mission to Inspire African Youths.

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