Getting Married In Nigeria: All the Things I wish I knew beforehand

close up of wedding rings on floor

Planning a wedding is hardwork. We are talking about an event you think about years before it happens. Getting married in another country can be even more stressful because its unfamiliar territory.

I got married in Nigeria this summer, and while it was an enjoyable experience, there is so much I would have changed about my attitude.
So I’ve listed everything I wish I had told my pre-married self.

Don’t get a dress until you have secured a wedding venue

So, here’s the thing, I went on a whole excursion with my friends to put a deposit down on a massive dress I didn’t even buy because plans changed. The venue we originally planned to use changed due to events beyond our control.

That said, God still came through for me and restored that money tenfold through generous contributions from friends and family. So I didn’t have to stress as much, but I still told myself off for being too hasty.

People will come through for you!

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but your friends and family and community will come through for you. Getting married is a big step for you, and they know that. They will do everything in their power to give practical help in the form of advice, prayers, well wishes and even donations. So stop fretting; do what you can, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

Pace yourself, you will get there

In the weeks leading to the wedding day, I was such a nervous wreck because so many things were not going to plan, and so at times, I’ll tell myself, ‘Las Las, you’ll sha marry’

Every night, I went to sleep late and woke up super early just because of everything I had on my mind.

I wrote up a to-do list and worried about the magnitude of the things I had to do. Thankfully, the more time passed, the more straightforward things got.

Worrying will get you nowhere

Stop. Just stop stressing. It will get you nowhere. I told myself this many times, but I still fixated on things that were often beyond my control.

I couldn’t control my bags getting delayed because of the travel crises over the summer. Yet I still had sleepless nights tossing and turning while hoping and praying our remaining delayed bags would turn up. Thankfully, two days before my wedding day, they finally turned up!

This takes me to my next point.

Where possible, always book direct flights

This is your wedding girl. Book a direct flight and not a connecting one. This will save you a whole lot of misery. I wish someone had told me this before I booked the cheaper Air France flight to Nigeria.

If we had booked direct flights the following things would have haappened;

  • We wouldn’t have had to deal with the crazy queue in France
  • We wouldn’t have had to go through yet another security line
  • Our checked in baggage would have arrived on the same day we landed in Lagos.

Focus on what is important to you

This one is curtesy of a dear friend of mine who talked some sense to me when I was fretting about wedding plans. She said to me calmly over the phone ‘pick 3 things you want to focus and make sure you focus on getting those things done

These are the 3 things that were most important to me

  • Actually getting married
  • My siblings being able to witness it
  • The photos had to be on point

All three were accomplished but I still fretted over other things too. Sigh!

Walk slower if you don’t want to stand out!

In the UK, why do we walk fast? Is it because everything is always urgent? In Nigeria, it is the opposite. For example, if you walk really fast, the locals will notice, and you will stand out. They might even say you are walking as if you are going to war.

For example, one evening, as we speed walked through the airport again to check on our delayed baggage, the security airport staff asked us why we weren’t walking at the same slow pace as others. We didn’t answer them because we were so pressed about finding our delayed baggage, so they decided among themselves,’ it is because they are going to war’. 

Get used to tipping/bribing people to do their job

There is a very thin line between bribing and tipping. Right from the airport when you land you’ll be hearing, “anything for us” from immigration officials as they stamp your passport. I also wrote about this on my blog post about My Trip To Nigeria During A Pandemic.

Despite what this sign says, immigration officials still ask travellers for money.

After the wedding you’ll certainly calm down

After the wedding an overwhelming sense of relief will descend on you. You won’t need to think about wedding stuff again and can finally focus on your honeymoon. So for the next few weeks you will travel around Nigeria enjoying the sun, food, and of course your husband.

Utter bliss after a successful wedding!

Throw that intimate wedding idea in the bin

You can not come all the way to your home land and restrict people from attending your wedding. No, that small and intimate wedding you had planned will not be possible. Your parents friends (even though you have never heard from them in all these years) will be greatly offended that they were not invited, and they will still turn up on the day.

In fact, it is an insult for them not to attend because they want to show how much they loved your parents by coming for your wedding. And don’t you worry – there will be enough food for them to eat on the day. Even though you will look out on your wedding day and not recognise half the people in the crowd. This is not about you, this is how things are done here and you have to be okay with that. If you dare to complain the response will simply be, ‘welcome to nigeria’ .

People will be calling you Iyawo until the next person gets married

This is something I find to be very annoying. When you get married as a yoruba woman everyone will be calling you ‘iyawo’ which translates to ‘wife’. They will no longer call you by your actual name. In fact, being a wife is what now defines you and you should be happy about that.

Even though you will tell people to stop calling you ‘iyawo’ some will stubbornly refuse and you will just have to be okay with that.

Get used to saying ‘my husband’

After the wedding, all will be right with the world again and you realise what that you are somobody’s wife. Then one day, you will drop in the casual ‘my husband’ in conversations with friends and family. At first, it may sound strange but as the endearing words rolls off your tongue you will take it in and smile and then bless God, for this is the very thing you prayed for.

Final thoughts

Getting married in Nigeria was a beautiful experience. I am so lucky to be married to my best friend. I also appreciate my friends and family who gave me advice, organised my bridal shower and prayed with me.

Lastly, my aunties and uncles, who stood in place of my parents, were amazing. I will always cherish and appreciate them for all they did for me. It was not easy to get married without my parents but I am glad I was able to do it in the country of their birth.

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