Update Post: November 30, 2023 4:44 pm
While organising or attending ceremonies can be necessary many times, cutting expenses on such occasions may be necessary, Justice Okamgba reports
Weddings are a massive occasion in Africa’s most populous country. It is a moment of merriment for both the host and guests. It could also be the same for the invitees. That’s all dependent on a few factors – such as the bond with the host, your earning power, etc.
In other words, the value of wedding gifts can vary widely depending on cultural norms, relationships, and personal preferences.
Inevitably, as you continue to build your social network, you will most likely get several wedding invitations.
As you accept those countless wedding invites, remember too that you are inadvertently putting your finances at risk.
Consider Chinwendu Utudume, a 28-year-old lady working with the Federal Ministry of Information in Abuja, who traveled to Port Harcourt to honour a friend’s wedding invitation. She had received at least three wedding invitations this year but decided to honour this particular one in Port Harcourt.
Flight, accommodation, gift, and a new dress for each wedding almost turned her excitement into apprehension as her bank balance dwindled.
“I love celebrating with my friends, but it’s hard not to feel the pinch,” Chiwendu confessed to The Punch. “I had to dip into my savings more than I was comfortable with, and it took a toll on my finances.”
The situation worsened when her departure date coincided with the Monday sit-at-home in the southeastern part of Nigeria. “I needed to pay more to extend my accommodation; I never knew this sit-at-home would affect my departure to Abuja. It’s crazy.”
“But, you can always find your way around it. The distance should always be considered. So, in my case, transport was the biggest dip,” she disclosed.
Cultural Dynamics & Social Media Pressures
Nigerian weddings are often grand affairs, with costs ranging from thousands to millions of naira.
According to a market research group, TNS Global, getting married in Nigeria is big business and is worth millions of dollars.
For context, the cost of an average Nigerian wedding can range from $9,460 (N3.5m) to $13,515 (N5m); and some weddings cater for as many as 1,000 guests.
So, when people attend these weddings, they want to look good. And the social pressure to conform to dress codes and the desire to look one’s best amplify costs, especially for young adults already grappling with the economic challenges in a country with high inflation and unemployment.
Historically, there has been a greater emphasis on women’s involvement in wedding preparations. The pressure to contribute, especially for women who are typically seen as significant spenders in such contexts, can lead to financial strain.
“Women are largely the biggest spenders. When they are invited, they come to buy fabrics, shoes, bags, and other items that will make them look good,” Owerri-based fabric seller, Ogechi Obanye told The PUNCH.
She said ladies often want to look their best and adhere to the dress code, which can contribute to high costs associated with wedding clothes.
“I am a businesswoman, my own is just to sell fabrics to them and sales are massive, especially from women,” she added.
After all, being financially responsible doesn’t mean missing out on celebrating love—it means finding a balance that ensures your bank account stays healthy along with your relationship.
Continuing, she said, “There are times that I didn’t honour some wedding invitations due to my financial situation at the time.”
“But for this year, I haven’t attended many weddings,” she said. But last year was different, I had about 6 last year and they were within the Owerri environs, so I didn’t need to spend so much on transport or even accommodation.
“The only thing I needed was to buy the clothes and some gift items, they cost money but I didn’t need to break the bank,” she said.
Navigating the intricate world of wedding expenses requires a tactical approach.
The Founder of Money Intelligence Coaching Academy, Tunde Oyedoyin, told The Punch that a key strategy involves establishing a well-defined budget for each wedding-related cost and adhering to it diligently.
He emphasised, “Equipping yourself with a financial blueprint can effectively stave off overspending and potential post-wedding financial regrets.”
Instead of indulging in extravagant gifts, consider embracing thoughtful gestures that won’t exert undue pressure on your wallet. Handcrafted presents, personalized notes, or contributing to a collective gift can carry just as much sentiment as a high-priced item.
Furthermore, it’s pivotal to individually assess the significance of each wedding invitation. While attending your closest friend’s wedding might be a non-negotiable commitment, it’s perfectly acceptable to graciously decline invitations that impose an overwhelming financial burden.
“You can opt to attend and find happiness in simply being present. If it’s a close friend or family event, you can participate without feeling obligated to buy ‘aso ebi’.”
He said if it’s within your budget, “you can consider it, but if not, you can decline.” He added, alternatively, one could purchase a gift that fits the budget.
“You also have the option to send a goodwill message instead of attending. In summary, it’s advised to accept many invitations, and you can convey your well-wishes even without physically attending.”
Personal Finance Coach Daniel Attai offers a perspective on the dilemma of accepting numerous wedding invitations. While acknowledging that the financial impact is undeniable, Attai underscores the importance of honouring invites due to existing bonds and relationships.
He advises, “While it’s not obligatory to accept every invitation, certain invitations hold sentimental weight and should be accepted out of respect for the deep connections you share.”
Remember, it’s crucial to strike a balance between your financial stability and your commitment to celebrating love and relationships. Open communication about your budget with friends and family can also alleviate the pressure to attend every event, ultimately fostering a healthier financial outlook.
A Financial Coach, Abi Chioduye, told The Punch the value of accepting event invitations, viewing it as an opportunity for future reciprocation. However, complications arise when one exceeds their budget in an attempt to impress the hosts.
“It’s advisable to establish a budget for each event you plan to attend, refraining from feeling obligated to purchase gifts if your financial situation doesn’t allow it,” Abi said.
“But the problem starts when you decide to start spending above your budget/plan in order to impress those who invited you.”
He advised that invitees participate in events without the pressure of purchasing presents; your presence holds its own significance. Gift-giving can always be done later and may even be more appreciated.
“Take weddings, for example. It’s common to observe that many received gifts remain unused for years, even decades, often due to duplication or lack of necessity”.
“Therefore, maintaining financial discipline and thoughtful planning is crucial for personal growth, particularly in the context of events where impulsive spending tends to occur.”
As the echoes of the music fade and the final remnants of confetti find their place, always keep in mind that being mindful of your financial decisions doesn’t diminish the value of cherished relationships.
While celebrating love remains significant, it’s equally essential to prioritize the protection of your financial well-being.
By thoughtfully managing wedding invitations and expenditures, you can dance through the wedding season with financial security intact.
In the journey to financial empowerment, remember that finding a balance between spending less and making more is the ultimate goal.