What is more important? the marriage or the wedding day? Weddings are so romantic, beautiful, emotional, and meaningful. Friends and family travel thousands of miles to spend a few hours to witness the union of two people dedicating the rest of their lives together. A Nigerian wedding comes with so much attention, pomp, pageantry and spending that, if you are not careful, it is easy to focus solely on two days of festivity and little else. However, truly it is not about the wedding day, it is about the marriage.
Here are some things to consider as you plan a wedding:
Royal wedding or Simple?
Your dream might be to have a royal wedding but can you afford it? Set a budget. Budgeting is simply balancing your expenses with your income. Creating this spending plan helps you to determine in advance whether you will have enough money to hold the wedding of your dreams. This is the time to differentiate between wants and needs.
Make a list of everything you will need for the traditional ceremonies as well as for the formal religious ceremonies and the receptions that accompany them. There can be so much involved but not all are necessary. Some of the costs can include the reception venue, clothes for both the traditional and church ceremonies; including the wedding dress and grooms suit. Jewellery, shoes, bags, food, drinks, rentals, flowers, photography, videographer, choir, organists, band, décor, party favours, rings, make up artists, hairdressers, stylist, gele tiers are among the costs. You might be engaging the services of a wedding planner, and several other costs that could pop up. Refine your budget as you get price quotes, and identify the things that are most important.
The costs can be overwhelming so be sure to prioritize. Small compromises can lead to huge savings; focus on what really matters and will make a difference on the occasion and always keep your budget at the back of your mind. One of the most significant factors that influence your costs is likely to be your choice of the reception venue.
Managing the Nigerian wedding guest list
The guest list has become a significant challenge in Nigeria as families try to manage societal expectations against their finances. Does your guest list have to include all your colleagues that you have ever worked with, directors of all the boards that you have ever served on, everyone in your church or mosque, members of staff, your extensive extended family and their relatives too?
Managing your guest list by knocking a few hundred people off your guest list will literally save you hundreds of thousands, even millions of naira. A more manageable crowd will create a much more pleasant experience for everyone. Consider inviting only your closest family and friends, particularly those that have a personal relationship with the bride and groom. It may leave you less popular though, but focus on what truly matters. The key is to prioritize.
Communication is important
A couple’s marriage is a merger of two families and the last thing you need is for relationships to be marred from the start over money matters. For some families, this can be the start of frayed relationships. It is just not worth it. Communicate early and as often as required with your child and their fiancé as well as your in-laws to manage expectations. With a good sense of what the couple wants, and what funding is available, you can be clear about how much you are willing and able to contribute.
How are the costs managed?
How you decide to split the costs of your son’s or daughter’s wedding depends largely on cultural nuances and preferences, the financial standing of each family, and on the bride and groom themselves. Early discussions are a good way to determine who pays for what. In the situation where the bride’s family is expected to pay the lion’s share of wedding costs, it can be a huge strain for the father of the bride.
The groom’s family may wish to pick some specific significant costs, such as catering for a significant number of guests, the venue or drinks at the reception. Don’t feel bad if you are the parent of the bride and can’t afford to pay for the entire wedding. Very few people expect that anymore. Don’t let your ego or pride come into play; if you can’t afford it, don’t pretend that you can.
The best way to decide who will pay for what is for both families and the couple to have a frank discussion about what each party can afford to contribute. Financial conversations can be uncomfortable so do handle this with sensitivity. If family A insists on inviting 1,250 guests and Family B is only able to fund 250, let Family A pay for the 1,000 guests.
Do not empty your retirement for your child’s wedding.
Naturally, parents want to give their children, especially daughters, dream weddings. It is nice to always put your children first. However, it is important to be mindful of becoming overwhelmed by societal pressure thereby dipping into your retirement savings to fund a wedding that you cannot afford. Remember you must still take care of your needs after the wedding.
Your retirement planning, your emergency fund, medical insurance are goals that must be priority. Don’t jeopardize all your saving and investing for your later years trying to impress people.
For example in the Indian community, because they have extravagant expensive weddings, they plan several years in advance and make a wedding fund part of their financial plan. This is particularly true where daughters are concerned. It is worth considering planning several years in advance for your children’s weddings so that you can give them a wedding of choice without considerable strain.
Avoid going into debt to fund a wedding
Some couples, or their families, decide they simply must pull out all the stops for a wedding. They want nothing but the best, even when they cannot afford to pay for it. This results in some parents taking out wedding loans or selling property and stock to meet the expenses. Avoid going into debt for the wedding dress, the wedding or the honeymoon. However, for parents who are up against temporary time constraints, borrowing sometimes makes more sense than selling assets. If you must borrow, it should be because there is an imminent inflow to offset the loan. It is not advisable to be paying interest to offset wedding costs. Your funds are better used in other investments or in a retirement account or to support the new couple.
If it is the couple footing the wedding bill, avoid going into debt for it. Scale down the size of the wedding and have a bigger celebration when you can afford it if need be.
Although the rings are important, don’t spend more money on them than you can afford. A ring is a symbol of marriage; focus on this and not the monetary value. Avoid spending millions on a diamond ring to dazzle if you don’t have money for more important things such as renting a home. For a significant anniversary, you can consider upgrading the ring if it is that important.
Weddings can be overwhelming and expensive. Starting out with millions of naira in debt for a newly married couple is not advisable. Remember that there will be other pertinent needs such as suitable housing, and planning for a family. What really matters is to start with a firm and solid foundation and build a future together.
After the excitement and fanfare of the wedding ceremonies, it will be time to face a financial future together. The marriage is more important than the wedding day. It is about real-life that follows all the ceremony. Remember, you can have a beautiful wedding day without breaking the bank.
Coming Soon! “Money Matters from the Mother of the Bride” by Nimi Akinkugbe.
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Written by Nimi Akinkugbe | For more personal finance tips, contact Nimi: Email: [email protected] | Website: www.moneymatterswithnimi.com |Twitter: @MMWITHNIMI | Instagram: @MMWITHNIMI | Facebook: MoneyMatterswithNimi