Weddings in Nigeria are usually big events that take time, lots of money, and effort to put together. Over the years, as working professionals get busier with little or no time to plan their big day, the responsibility is passed to wedding planners who devote their time to making wedding events successful.
The art of planning and coordinating has become a very lucrative source of income for this set of people. For every event held, whether formal or social, wedding planners are paid huge sums of money to make sure that those events come out successful.
Wedding parties in most parts of Nigeria are known for their lavish display of colours, a parade of cultural attires, assorted dishes, drinks, energetic music, and stomping dance steps.
For many Nigerians, wedding days are some of the happiest days but also the most expensive days of their lives.
Oluwatosin Adebulehin, who has been planning weddings for over seven years, knows too well about the pomp and pageantry of the business as well as the blue days.
Having worked at the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Adebulehin was looking for the next big thing, probably some business to start. It was then she remembered how she used to be an event usher back in the university. She leveraged some contacts and kicked off her event ushering business in 2015.
Just like Adebulehin, many more Nigerians, especially among the millennial and zillennial age demographic, have quit their 9-5 jobs not just for the obvious reasons of finding greener pastures in foreign countries but because of the lack of higher pay, better benefits, rising insecure, toxic working environment, and, most importantly, flexibility.
There are even instances where individuals who have completed major career-related courses at the university end up working as wedding planners right away after completing their youth service.
A typical example of such an entrepreneur is Asitonka Aggrey-Abah, CEO of Asy Darlyn, an event and wedding planning company, who studied Petroleum engineering but veered into event planning.
“In 2012, during the year of my graduation after studying Petroleum engineering, oil prices were tanked and the people who promised us jobs were losing their jobs and I knew I had to do something else. After my youth service, I got into the ‘YouWin’ programme that the federal government was running at the time. After getting the business planning template which guided me in knowing how to set up a business plan and then I launched,” she said on her vlog channel.
The event planning industry, though not a popular career route to wealth, has produced some successes. Some have grown to multimillion status and are an inspiration to up-and-coming young Nigerians.
Yearly revenue of a wedding planner
“Wedding planners make a minimum of N3 million to N5 million naira annually,” Adebulehin said, “although, we have staff that works for us and we pay their salaries monthly.”
With the economic downturn biting the income of many Nigerians and inflation affecting prices of every product and service, there has been concerns that wedding planners’ fees are not for the light-hearted.
Adesuwa Olarenwaju, a professional wedding planner, said on her YouTube channel that the reason many wedding planners charge as much as they do is because it is their full-time job and it’s from the money they make as an event or wedding planner that they use to meet the daily needs of themselves and their families.
“The cost of paying for their offices’ rent, diesel, data, and transportation for us to be always available to our client is part of the reasons why we charge as much as we do,” Adesuwa said.
Adebulehin charges in line with how extravagant and bold her client is willing to go. She charges between N200,000 and N1,000,000 for her wedding planning services alone. She and her team would make contact with a variety of vendors, including caterers, photographers, makeup artists, DJs, decorators, MCs, and event security services. These vendors alone can cost millions of naira, depending on the wedding budget of the couples.
The cost of getting these vendors is usually a challenge for her clients as some of them with lower budgets want to go cheaper than the people she recommends.
“Some of the challenges I have most of the time is whenever I recommend a vendor, being in the business for a while and knowing full well that the vendor would give a top-notch job, the bride or groom would want to go with vendors that won’t give the top-notch services the couples want making my job look unprofessional,” she said.
She also mentioned that the rising cost of diesel affected the price of renting halls at event centres, where most of these wedding parties are held including other vendors.
“If we have a hall of 200 capacity that charges N300,000 to N400,000 now, they charge between N500,000 to N700,000 for 7-8 hours. The cost of hiring photographers also went up, costing between N450,000 to N1.5 million, depending on the client and their packages. Makeup artists’ charges go from N100,000 to N200,000. The DJs, too, are involved as the high cost of renting equipment also caused their prices to go up,” Adebulehin said.
She said it is better for couples to trust wedding planners to choose vendors since it is beneficial for everyone. In order to build a stronger relationship with them and increase their chances of receiving recommendations and work from them if they do a good job, vendors will provide discounts on services if they come through wedding planners.
When organising an event, things don’t always go as expected, but Adebulehin is convinced that there is always a solution. As a professional planner, she also makes plans for any challenges and always has solutions prepared. Vendors may arrive late or worse, cancel at the last minute of the event, thereby forcing Adebulehin and her team to look for a planned last-minute replacement or a plan B.
Many businesses came to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and uncertainty increased. People who had wedding events planned during that time had to cancel them or manage them internally, which Adebulehin refers to as an intimate wedding. She claimed that because the number of guests at these little weddings was very limited, the costs associated with organising them were significantly cheaper than they had previously been.
“During the lockdown, couples wanted to get married in their parents’ sitting room as it was against the Covid regulations to be outdoors let alone host a party. We had a package of 20 to 50 guests for a total package of N1 million which came with the inclusion of vendors,” she said.
Despite the cost of living crisis, Nigerians continue to splash out on weddings as getting married is seen as an important part of one’s life in this part of the world. As weddings get bigger and more creative, it seems as though wedding planners will remain in the picture for a long time to come.