The High Cost of Nigerian Weddings – What I’d Spend

The High Cost of Nigerian Weddings: A Personal Reflection

Nigerian weddings are spectacular events, but let’s be honest – they can be incredibly expensive. When I get an invitation along with the cost of gele, women’s material, fila, and men’s material, I’m not always filled with immediate happiness, especially if our families aren’t particularly close.

My initial reaction is to inform my husband that under no circumstances are we buying the aso ebi. No way, Jose. Sometimes he reluctantly agrees, but other times, he goes behind my back to buy it anyway.

For the most recent wedding, he did just that. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy when, during a drive to Sainsbury’s, he casually mentioned that my material is ready. The main reason I don’t like purchasing aso ebi is that it’s an expense I never prepare for. Perhaps I should start anticipating it every year and begin setting aside aso ebi money at the beginning of January – maybe.

Another reason is that I am picky. Not all Nigerian seamstresses are created equal. And if you want a good one, you have to pay for it. Last year, I willingly bought the aso ebi for my mum’s sister’s 80th birthday. She had been generous all my life, and I wanted to participate fully. I decided on a plain maxi skirt and went to a well-known seamstress who quoted me over £300. I immediately declined. Unfortunately, I received the material rather late, and all the other good seamstresses were fully booked. I had to attend the celebration in my own attire.

For this wedding, I received the material in good time and was patient enough to find a good seamstress willing to sew an entire dress for £350. Instead, I decided to go for a skirt, costing about half the price, and get a skirt made for my daughter as well.

The True Cost of Nigerian Weddings

The cost of getting dressed is just one reason Nigerian weddings are expensive. The bride and groom spend a lot more. Their materials are of better quality, making them more costly. It’s likely they’ll change outfits three times during the traditional wedding celebrations. Did I mention that there’s a traditional wedding a week before the white wedding? So, in addition to the three luxurious traditional wedding outfits, add the cost of the wedding dress to that.

We don’t do things by halves, and in the age of Instagram, where aesthetics are everything, you’re looking at about £5000 for hall hire for a weekend celebration for a large crowd. Most Nigerian weddings are large anyway, so…

Hall hire for the traditional wedding may be a bit less, so let’s half it to £2500. Catering could easily be another £7500 for both days. Flowers, décor, makeup artists, hair, transport – it’s mind-blowing. We’re easily looking at £20000. Considering my wedding 20 years ago was only five grand less, it’s likely closer to £25000 now. And I haven’t even factored in the wedding dress, rings, and honeymoon. Mercy me.

A Simpler, More Affordable Approach

I’ve spoken to people who say they would do it all over again.

I wouldn’t.

I’d spend the most money on the rings – a couple of thousand. I would buy a beautiful, simple dress from ASOS for about £350-500. That’s a treat. How often do you spend money like that on a dress? I don’t very often.

I’d have the reception at home with close family and friends. My cousin had to do that during the pandemic, and it was lovely. I’d get friends and family to pitch in with food, décor, and photography. No more than £3000 if I can help it would be my budget.

I just think that the money spent on a wedding can be put to better use afterwards, like a new home and other financial investments. Unless you come from a very wealthy family, I don’t see the sense in it. No one truly cares or even remembers how you did your wedding, but you’re left with the financial burden because you thought you needed to save face.

I can only hope that after the countless times I’ve told my children not to overspend on a wedding, they heed my advice.

However, I don’t want to be a stick in the mud. Do what makes you happy, especially if you can afford it.


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@bessobarotimiSounds silly but honestly take lots of photo so you can remember what it was like and be happy that you didn’t waste your youth♬ original sound – bessobarotimi

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