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Big budget weddings cross N100 million mark -How the very rich stage fabulous nuptials

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WELL-heeled Nigerians have raised wedding budgets skywards with scores of the richly endowed and blessed surpassing one another with mind-boggling sums to please couples and guests.

From wedding attires, invitation cards, aso ebi, venues, decorations, entertainment, food and drinks, and other associated costs, rich compatriots have no limits on what to splash on nuptials.

The fabulously rewarded have always taught us how to put good money into spectacular events. And as far as the eyes can see, lavishing dozens of millions on shindigs is not new at all in Nigeria.

Slow down, catch your breath and think about the weddings staged by Dr. Mike Adenuga, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chief Kunle and Pamela Adedayo, the Fowlers and Kukus, Hajia Bola Shagaya, the Alakijas (Folorunsho and Modupe) and P-Square (Peter and Paul Okoye).

More than scores have surpassed the N100 million benchmark…and this year alone, from the nuptials of President Jonathan’s adopted daughter (Faith Sakwe), Sir Tony Ezenna’s daughter (Cynthia), Senator Florence Ita-Giwa’s daughter (Koko Maeyen), and many more, the ceiling was effortlessly scaled.

Ceremonies formalizing the union of lovebirds have been elevated to very big business, and enterprises attending to these needs are springing up by the day.  Lucky and very good service providers in the industry are making big money. And new entrants are finding their feet in the sector which has turned many into millionaires.

With cost centers that glamorize events, transforming them into fairy tale ceremonies, it is not difficult to cross the N100 million threshold …

PRE-WEDDING PHOTO SHOOT

After the engagement is announced, couples who are blessed to have rich parents willing to splash on their nuptials begin the spending game.

Elaborate pre-wedding photo-shoots, by renowned and specialized photographers, are plotted.  Scenic locations, many times out of our shores, are picked for romantic shots which are later documented in either special publications, reception programme and DVDs, apart from a photo-book.

The shoots are elaborate as crew members of the photographer, make-up artistes and stylists are involved.

Many times, the photo shoots take several days, and all those involved are paid well.

For the package alone, good and experienced photographers can pocket between N250,000 to N350,000, excluding travel cost.

INVITATION CARDS

Elegant and classy invitation cards, from the simple to the elaborate are making their way into the social scene.

The well-travelled pick regular but exquisite cards without fuss. While those who want to make an impression vote for box invitation card.

Many of the cards are printed abroad, and some come with gifts such as brooches.

The cards start from N1,750 per unit to about N10,000.

WEDDING OFFICE, EVENT PLANNER

Special teams are set up to manage information about the nuptials – and from compiling guest list to reminders and distributing aso ebi and accessories, the dedicated staffers are in charge.

Notification starts with a letter, intimating guests about the forthcoming nuptials enjoining them to save the date.

The invitation card and aso ebi follow, and several reminders.

Many times, the management of this office is awarded to a consultant, usually the event planner whose fee is between 5 to 10 per cent of the total budget.

ATTIRES AND RINGS

From pre-wedding photo-shoot, introduction and engagement and the nuptials proper, well appointed garbs and accessories are chosen by those who are willing to splash on other items on the budget.

So, elaborately considered apparels, from the most exclusive designers are bought.

Remember, the couple have many ensembles to adorn for the pre-wedding photo-shoot.

For introduction and engagement, there are more traditional attires and accessories to wear.

And the wedding demands the most gorgeous they can find. The wedding gown is specially commissioned, as well as the after wedding attire. And some start at $15,000.

The groom also picks the best suit and accessories he fancies, with designer duds beginning at $10,000.

The wedding party as well as the couples’ parents and extended families also wear special aso ebi.

The engagement ring and wedding bands might well be the most expensive items when we are talking clothes and accessories. Prices can settle at $20,000 upwards.

Gems and stones come tops for those who have the money.

MARQUES, LIMOUSINES AND HORSE CARRIAGE

The wedding party always chooses surprise. And one of the ways to dazzle is the choice of car, limousine or horse carriage that ferries the couple to church, reception and home.

From Rolls Royce to Range Rover, limousines, horse drawn carriage, many companies specialize in providing luxury and unusual mode of ferrying the couples about.

Cars and horse drawn carriages range from N150,000 to N250,000 and more for eight hours.

MAKE-UP

One of the cost elements is the make-up artistes fee. To beautify the bride and enhance her good looks or totally transform her visage, a make-up artiste is hired for the engagement and wedding.

From the early hours of the day, the artiste is glued to her client and apart from the major transformation of the morning, she’s on hand to dab one or two things on the bride’s face as the ceremonies get underway.

Make up artistes charge N120,000 to well over N200,000.

VENUE RENTAL

Banquet halls and grand ballrooms, majestic marquees and choice locations abroad have hosted some of the most extravagant wedding receptions.

Eko Hotel & Suites, Oriental Hotel, Sheraton Hotel & Towers, This Day Dome and many grand locations are the venues of choice among the rich and famous.

And millions of naira exchange hands for the exquisite locations with some crossing the N5 million mark.

Those who opt to move their weddings abroad, from Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Marbella (Spain), the United Kingdom or the Maldives, have to factor in the cost of flight and hotels of guests and wedding party.

Big venues cost an arm and a leg, with Eko Hotel & Suites leading with N8 million for the Expo Centre and Oriental Hotel charges N5 million for their Grand Ballroom. Some marquees cost N5 million, but many hover around N2.5 million and N3 million. The field of Tafawa Balewa Square in Onikan (Lagos) attracts N5 million, excluding the cost of your marquee and associated miscellany.

When you use a hotel, don’t forget that costs escalate… With food per person going for N8,000, finger foods N4,000 and champagne N35,000 per bottle.

COCKTAILS, SMALL CHOPS AND CANAPÉS

The trendy and well exposed who don’t cut corners usually welcome their guests with finger foods and drinks. As soon as they make their way to the reception venue, they are treated to soft music, canapés and small chops with colourful drinks passed around by well decked waiters.

After spending hours in church, event organizers reckon guests will be hungry and thirsty but before the real food comes and the wedding train arrives, the finger foods and cocktails perform the magic.

High-end small chops go for N1,500, and regular start from N350 to N450 per head. Cocktails command N800 to N1,200 per glass.

DECORATIONS AND LIGHTING

There are top notch event decorators who transform venues into majestic palaces and spots where splendor and elegance rule.

From the tables and chairs, object d’art positioned everywhere, flowers and props, event venues are turned into magnificent enclosures.

Everywhere shimmers and glitters in beautiful symphony.

From the entrance through the carpeted walk-way and hall or marquee, the decorators stamp their signature of refinement everywhere.

There are all sorts of themes, and scores of different raised dais and seats for the couple planted for all to see.

Decor and lights can set you back by N8 million to N50 million.

DJ’S, BANDS AND MUSICIANS

High-flying DJs, popular bands and musicians are also raking in big money from weddings, skyrocketing the cost of hosting family and friends at civil ceremonies.

The couple and their friends prefer young and versatile DJs who can mix and churn out danceable melodies to thrill and titillate their friends. And this element costs N350,000 to N1 million.

The well-endowed also throw in popular singers, the young and raves of the moment who have hits everyone loves. They charge about N1 million to N10 million.

There are bands, from classical music to juju and those who sing everyone’s tunes. And demand about N600,000 to N1.2 million.

Many times, a nuptial will parade all these elements of entertainment to ensure that the day is remarkable.

MASTER OF CEREMONIES AND COMEDIANS

The reception is anchored by a popular master of ceremonies or several, and many times comedians are thrown in.

Many comedians are combining the role of master of ceremonies and laugher merchant and smiling to the bank.

Those who don’t care about cost invite veteran broadcasters or more known celebrity anchors for their reception.

For a few hours job, millions exchange hands. Many ask for N800,000 to N2.5 million.

VIDEO COVERAGE

There are videographers who capture weddings Hollywood style as if they are on big budget films.

Like the photographers, but with more elaborate gadgets, they follow bride and groom everywhere from the morning of the nuptials and record all the happenstances which are later edited into an interesting keep-sake.

It is not uncommon to see cameras flying in the air and over head to record events.

These elaborate productions don’t come cheap and many music video directors and producers are making big money from nuptials now. Good ones are from N600,000 to N2.5 million.

PHOTO COVERAGE

Experienced photographers with modern gadgets and well-plotted areas of coverage, usually accompany the groom and bride from their homes or hotel rooms to the church, reception and after party events.

They capture almost every moment on the glorious day, taking pictures of the couple’s attires and accessories, as well as when make-up is being applied and as they adorn their beautiful apparels.

The couples are also joined by the party train, and many fun moments are captured.

The photographers are never far away, and all through the day, many cherished moments are frozen. They negotiate for about N600,000 to N2 million depending on the number of ceremonies and photo books.

FOOD AND DRINKS

From buffet to plated, multi-course meals are on offer at highbrow nuptials. Nigerian delicacies, continental and Chinese are usually on the menu.

Those who care offer starters, main dishes and desserts. Good caterers ask for between N3,500 to N5,000 per head.

And all the drinks under the sun and sky are at the beck and call of guests without discrimination.

From water to wine, spirits to champagne and beverages and beer, everything is available. Drinks bill sometimes cross the N20 million mark for those who splash champagne afield.

Don’t forget the wedding cake which can start at N1.2 million to N3.5 million.

SECURITY GUARDS

One of the fastest growing areas in events staging is provision of security guards – and there are many urbane private companies providing young men and women kitted in fanciful uniforms to help secure guests and venue.

Big and bulky and menacing, they keep away mischief makers and uninvited guests. They are paid from N10,000 and N15,000 per guard.

GOODIE BAGS AND MEMENTOES

Gifts are oftentimes distributed to guests as mementoes, especially to those who adorn the aso ebi.  Apart from the couple’s families, friends and associates also join in handing out their own gifts to guests.

With names and photographs of the couple, different items, from the most expensive to the mundane are distributed. At some of these occasions, expensive gist are distributed to guests – from plasma TV sets, water dispensers, iPads, high-end phones, Rolex watches…

BROCHURE, MAGAZINE AND PROGRAMME

Beautifully packaged programmes (either as a brochure or magazine) are becoming common at weddings of A-listers. Packed with information about the couple, sometimes with interviews and pre-wedding pictures, and the day’s programme of events, the publications are becoming keep-sakes.

These packages can attract from N400 to N1,000 per copy.

CAR GIFTS AND MORE

Those who don’t cut corners lavish the couple with expensive gifts, from a house to cars and more.

Lucky bride and groom get a home they can call their own or an automobile to start life with on a good pedestal.

Some have ‘received’ apartments in the better part of town, and many have been handed keys of luxury cars. At a wedding, the groom got a N38 million Rolls Royce…

PR AND OTHER MISCELLANY

For very public events, journalists are invited  and some of these media outfits are paid for the coverage.

Feel-good magazines and colourful weeklies as well as popular TV programmes can command millions of naira, depending on the number of pages or duration of the ceremony featured.

-KUNLE BAKARE

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