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WEDDING PREPARATION CHECKLIST
This checklist is tailored to Nigerian weddings. We’ve attempted to prepare a comprehensive checklist of things to do before a Nigerian-flavored wedding in the U.S. Before you even start going through the checklist, be sure to determine your budget, which will be determined in large part by the number of people you plan to invite. Also, we understand the traditional wedding and the wedding ceremony are both important occasions, however, for convenience, we refer to the traditional wedding as such and to the so-called white wedding as the “Wedding.”
SCHEDULE OF PREPARATIONS
In preparing this schedule, we researched some schedules on other websites, compiled and streamlined them to suit a Nigerian wedding. We really liked the one on this website: http://weddings.about.com/blchecklist1.htm and have included some of their tips. We’ve highlighted things that are specific to a Nigerian wedding.
10 to 12 Months Before The Wedding
• Book the wedding hall (fix time, officiant)
• Book time for rehearsal in the wedding hall 1 or 2 days before the wedding
• Book Reception Hall: consider a place close to the wedding hall
• Choose someone to decorate the hall
• Book hall for the traditional wedding: (A good number of people do this wedding within thier residences)
• Choose your wedding colors. Remember wedding colors for
o Bride’s side for traditional wedding;
o Groom’s side for traditional wedding; and
o For the white wedding.
• Inform Your Wedding Party: You don’t need to know every detail of what your bridesmaids and groomsmen will wear at this point, but you do need to ask them this early so they can plan for the expense. Be honest in giving them a sense of what it might cost. Consider either asking on the phone or sending out an e-mail or letter that really expresses why you think they are perfect for the position.
• Guests List: Prepare a guest list and from our experience, expect at least 100 more people to show up (unless you state unequivocally that the wedding is “strictly by invitation” and “no kids are allowed.”
• Choose a Caterer: you need to do this early because Nigerian wedding caterers can typically handle only one wedding per day because of how they are staffed. If you really want a particular caterer, you may want to book before that one is taken.
• Choose a DJ/Live Band for Reception: same issues as with the caterer.
8 To 10 Months Before The Wedding
• Aso-ebi (aka anko): Determine if you’d like your friends to wear similar outfits during your wedding. If you choose to do this at your wedding, here are some tips:
o Choose one of your friends that you trust to handle things from start to finish to coordinate this for you. This could be a really detailed part of the wedding and there are usually lots of questions, so have someone else take care of it.
o Determine the material, head tie etc
o Ask the coordinator to determine how many people are interested in buying (some people ask only certain people to buy and others open it up to all their friends. It’s all up to you. Remember, though, that some people get really offended if they are not asked and others may feel burdened if they are.)
o Your friends typically will pay for the clothes. If you want something really expensive, though, you may want to consider paying for part of it.
• Buy your wedding dress (and purse, veil, shoes). Make sure the dress meets the dress code of the organization (church/mosque) in which the service will take place - this is very important as you dont want to end up with an expensive dress you cant wear because you did not follow simple rules regarding sleeves, dress color etc.
• Order Bridesmaids dresses
• Book DJ for your wedding ceremony
• Book Photographer
• Book Videographer
• Order wedding cake
• Reserve hotel rooms for out of town guests
6 To 8 Months Before The Wedding
• Reserve rental equipment (if you’ll be needing any for the traditional wedding)
• Book hair dresser
• Book someone to do your head tie and make up (your mum and aunties are not necessarily the best people to tie your head tie for you. Look out for people who do a good job and consider paying someone if needed. It’s an Art and not everyone knows how to do it)
• Arrange for help with dressing up in traditional outfits. If you’re Efik, for example, and want to have the pins on your hair, you really must find someone way in advance who will be available that day to do this.
• Create your wedding website (if you plan to have one)
• Register for gifts (not widely practised in Nigeria yet, but you can consider it if you have open minded friends and family)
• Arrange transportation (to wedding ceremony and from wedding ceremony hall to reception). If not booking limos, confirm whose cars you’ll be using and who’ll be driving. We strongly suggest booking a reputable car rental service. Nigerian weddings tend to be all-weekend long affairs and people get tired and stressed. It might be worth the expense to get a car rental service.
o 1 car for bridesmaids and bride
o 1 car for groom and groomsmen
• Order programs
• Order invitations
• Purchase and rent groom and groomsmen’s outfit
• Purchase wedding rings
4 to 6 Months Before the Wedding
• Choose M.C. for traditional wedding and reception
• Give a list of important shots to your wedding photographer
• Discuss your menu with your caterer
• Meet with your officiant to discuss the service
• Write your vows (if there is an option to)
• Send out Wedding Invitations
• Meet with your hairstylist and/or make up stylist to experiment with styles and colors
• If your religous institution requires it, make blood test appointments
• Complete name change documents (if changing names)
• Send wedding announcements to local newspapers
2 to 4 Months Before the Wedding
• Go over your checklist and make sure you are on target.
• Do anything you’ve not done yet
• Apply for a marriage license
Month of the Wedding
• Have a final fitting for your gown (you should have a bridesmaid there to learn how to bustle your train and fasten and buttons)
• Check in with your bridesmaids and groomsmen:
o make sure they have all their outfits,
o confirm when they are arriving,
o patiently answer any last minute questions
• Check in with your vendors: confirm arrival and delivery times
• Make sure you have your wedding program
1 to 2 Weeks Before the Wedding
• Arrange seating plan (most Nigerian weddings just let people sit wherever they want. You might want to leave things that way)
• Let your caterer know the final number of attendees(if known)
• Prepare your toasts for the reception (and rehearsal dinner if having one)
• Break in wedding shoes (by wearing them around the house on the same kind of floor you’d have in the wedding)
• Pick up your dress (make sure it fits)
• Determine decorations for cars
• Practice your dance moves for the wedding(s).
• “Spray Money:” You will dance and it is a given that people will “spray” you. Put a trusted friend or family member in charge of picking up the money and keeping it for you. This amount can be quite substantial and people do it intending for you to get the money and appreciate it. Don’t let little children or plain thieves pick the money for themselves (that said, don’t go after anyone who picks up your money for himself).
• Communicate with the traditional wedding MC and other important guests about your expected order of events for the traditional wedding. This is not so important for yoruba and igbo weddings as many of those occur in the states and everyone pretty much knows what’s supposed to happen. For other cultures or if the bride and groom are from different parts of Nigeria or if one of them is not Nigerian, consider preparing an informal program and informing the MC and parents, and close uncles and aunts on both sides of how you plan for things to go. If not, your igbo uncle may just ask the bride when she’ll be presenting the groom the palm wine at what you intended to be a yoruba styled event.
Traditional Wedding Tips
• if doing this at home, inform your neighbors that you may be loud and plead with them to be understanding.
• Have someone coordinate parking
• No matter how late your in-laws are, don’t get upset at them when they arrive!
• This should go without saying, but don’t raise your voice at anyone. You’re supposed to be extremely good-natured, especially at the traditional wedding. Yelling is totally unacceptable.
1 day Before The Wedding
• Do something to relax and enjoy the company of your out-of-town friends
Assign responsibilities to your wedding party (greeting and seating guests, checking on vendors). Designate people to share your sourveniers/favors. Consider creating packages that include each so you can distribute easily at the wedding.
• Confirm transportation, photographer, make up artist (or hair), caterer, cake, decorator for hall and church, church arrangements
• Have a manicure and pedicure
• Give wake up calls to wedding party
• Decorate cars for Wedding Party
• Give gifts to your wedding party
• Enjoy! And take good pictures!
2 - 4 WEEKS AFTER THE WEDDING
• Call all the “mommies” and “daddies” that came for your wedding
• Call all members of your wedding party
• Remind your mother to call all the members of the wedding party (it is expected that she will call as well, because it was “her day” after all)
• Gradually get to all the guests who gave you gifts
• You should also send thank you notes, but thank you notes don’t appear to be as important in the Nigerian setting as making that phone call to say thank you for coming.
This is Just the Beginning ………Have a Happy Married Life!