A big wedding is not an option in Nigeria, it is an expectation. The expectation is so huge that guests lists can go up to one thousand. Here, wealthy couples spend millions of naira on this very big day.
The traditional outfit alone is priced between 500,000 to 1,500,000 naira or 1000 – 4000 US dollars. Gift presentation and groom prostration are just examples of the fusion between tradition and contemporary that make Nigerian weddings so unique.
This wedding ceremony is put together by Deola Okeshola, one of Nigeria’s most sought after events planners.
“The event planning industry in Nigeria is growing, it’s booming. Everyday planners rise up and you know, it is a good thing because it translates to the economy in Nigeria. There are quite a lot of wedding planners, a lot of people doing their thing and you know the wedding industry in Nigeria is very big, it’s really, really big now. We are doing so many awesome things, a lot of people are doing creative things you know it was different 10 years ago, 8 years ago, even 2 years ago compared to now. There are a lot of things, if you really, really are into the wedding industry you would see that things change. There is creativity, people are not just going to eat and drink, they are going to a wedding to have an experience now,” said Deola.
Deola was formerly an investment banker in the United States and she came back to Nigeria six years ago to start her business, 2706 Events. The company’s portfolio includes over 50 events with a speciality in big budget, high-return weddings and parties.
Her staff of 50-100 professionals from stylists, decorators, caterers and craftsmen spend months bringing their clients’ vision to life.
The wedding industry in this West African nations is worth millions of dollars, although exact figures are not available.
It is also highly competitive with new businesses, offering new products and bespoke services trying to get in on the action.
But not every Nigerian can afford a lavish wedding.
‘‘People will keep trying to outdo each other, I mean it is always competitive so there will always be a bit of things that will… those are things that will drive the cost up basically, so in the bid to outdo your friend, colleague or whatever you spend more and then the event managers, I don’t think they are making things easy for people because it is good for them to have very expensive weddings under their portfolios. I mean one can… okay not this wedding but I know one that came boasting she has handled a wedding that they spent about 25 million on the wedding that was her selling point,” said wedding guest Daji Saliu.
The glamorous party scene seems to have survived recent trouble in Africa’s biggest economy, which is coming out of a recession.