The Challenges of Planning a Nigerian Wedding vs. United States

So…That special day is approaching…The day many young girls look forward to, and fantasize about growing up…their Wedding Day!

Does a young bride-to-be in Nigeria approach that life changing event any differently than their western counterparts in the United States? How does the planning process, and the big day compare?

One thing that certainly seems common on both continents is that most brides want a fun party with music, food, and dancing for themselves and their guests! So how does the happy couple get started planning this epic celebration? In the United States, a very busy (or perhaps more wealthy) bride might opt to hire a ‘wedding planner’ that would take care of all the details based on the requests and input from the wedding party. The wedding planner would be responsible for the overall success of the event, which could be a great relief for the bride, but would also certainly influence the choices of design and theme based on their experience and preferences. In some cases, the bride may feel she is losing control of her own wedding and the father of the bride, if he is footing the bill, may feel he is losing control of the cost.

Alternatively, in many cases, the bride or her family may have a clear vision of how they want the celebration to unfold, and therefore want to plan a lot of the details themselves. They can do this by leveraging a local event rental company that can provide almost anything a bride would need —dance floor, tables, chairs, lighting, music, photography and many other specialty items. All the bride and groom need to provide is the quantity of items needed based on their guest list, and the date and location to deliver all requested items. This way the bridal party has control over the details and a very clear picture of the cost for the setup of the venue before moving on the catering requirements for the event.

So…this is where the divide between a U.S. and a Nigerian wedding startsthe guest list. In the United States the guest list is a very finite item whereas in Nigeria the guest list can be more of a suggestion and actually define the ‘least possible number of attendees’. A wedding guest in the U.S. would never consider bringing additional attendees that were not specifically invited without making that request to the bride (who would most likely decline). That practice is not always adhered to in Nigeria and sometimes the size of a wedding can double or triple what was planned for since invited guests may bring multiple uninvited guests with them. In the U.S., this might be seen as rude and disruptive, whereas Nigerians may view it as expanding the celebration and bringing extra good tidings for the bride and groom. No matter the reasoning a Nigerian bride must be flexible! Extra tables and chairs on stand-by, a second wave of food that could be called upon if needed. And certainly, an expandable dance floor to accommodate all the additional well-wishers that will certainly want their turn to dance alongside the bride and groom.

As they say in Nigeria, “Eku ori ire” or in the United States “Congratulations”!