A wedding ceremony, for the average Nigerian, is expected to be a glamorous affair. But of recent, more and more couples, including celebrities, are opting for low profile ceremonies. RITA OKONOBOH examines the various reasons couples opt for quiet weddings and what to put in place to pull it off.
CATHERINE Adekoya (not real names) was at her wit’s end. She was determined to have a quiet wedding but her mother would have none of it.
“What exactly are you hiding? Do you have any idea how many of my friends’ weddings I have attended? The hundreds of thousands of naira I have spent on aso ebi and souvenirs, even for daughters of friends of friends?” her mother queried.
“I understand, Mom. It’s just that Raymond and I have agreed that…”
“Agreed that what?” Mrs Adekoya interrupted. “Agreed that what? Even if you are six months pregnant, which obviously you’re not, we must have a big wedding. My daughter, a whole medical doctor, quiet wedding.?” her face cringed at the mention of ‘quiet wedding.’
For the average Nigerian family, weddings are expected to be glamorous ceremonies. They are planned as an announcement to the world that the single status of the bride and the groom has changed. However, in recent times, more and more people seem to be embracing the low profile wedding option for a variety of reasons.
Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’banj, stated that “I am not married, but even when I am ready, I will opt for a quiet wedding. I am tired of people asking me that question. It is my personal life. It is not going to change my music or my life.”
Popular gospel artiste, Psalm Ebube, in a recent interview also gave his reasons for making his wedding a low-key affair.
According to him, “It was more or less like a family wedding. I actually wanted to make it loud, but I followed God’s instruction strictly. Honestly, despite its noiseless nature, it was a very classy wedding such that those who were privileged to attend have always been talking about it.”
Financial drawbacks, unplanned pregnancies, keeping up with the Jones’, prophetic declarations, and, sometimes, choice, are few of the reasons a couple may choose to have a quiet wedding.
Quiet weddings, in Nigeria, are subject to personal interpretations, because of the various definitions given to it. According to a survey carried out by Sunday Tribune, quiet weddings in Nigeria take place for reasons ranging from advanced age, spiritual warnings, elopement, pregnancy, cheating, job security to financial challenges.
‘Unplanned pregnancy made me go for quiet wedding’
According to Mrs Emmanuela Chidieberem (not real names), who shared her experience with Sunday Tribune, she had to get married secretly because her parents were afraid of what people would say, seeing that she was already pregnant.
“I didn’t know I was pregnant for almost four months because I thought I was just adding weight. All of a sudden, it started showing and I had to inform my parents. My parents have not forgiven me till today because, according to my mother, I am a continuous reminder of her biggest disappointment. Considering my faith and where I come from, it is almost a taboo to have sex before marriage and if you do, never ever make the mistake of getting pregnant before marriage. My parents said they couldn’t bear the shame and we had to hush up the preparations. It was just the family members and one or two of our friends. More than 90 per cent of those who should known had no idea. All my mother said when people ask is that we got married before my husband travelled out of the country and that there wasn’t enough time for an elaborate wedding. Then she distracts them with the fact that my husband is a successful businessman, and he spends so much on the family. It is really sad what society has reduced us to.”
‘At 33, with my parents’ rejection of my fiance, I had no choice’
Mrs Dupe Oluyemi, who also narrated her experience on why she had a quiet wedding, told Sunday Tribune that she had to, else, she would have risked losing a man she truly loved.
According to her, “There was this guy I was dating earlier but I never really liked him, even though my parents did. He was our pastor’s son and it was expected that such a union would bring good, but to tell you the truth, that marriage would have been a disaster. I met and fell in love with Dayo but my folks, especially my mother, would hear nothing of it. I was 33 at the time. We went to the registry and got married. My father was aware but my mother, who had been at the forefront of the former union, wasn’t interested.”
Three reasons couples may want quiet wedding
The General Overseer, Revolution Fire Christian Ministry, Ojodu, Lagos, Prophet (Dr), Emmanuel E. Nwazuo, in an interaction with Sunday Tribune, gave three reasons couples may want quiet weddings.
According to him, “I know of so many people that have died as a result of disobedience to instructions by God not to make their weddings a glamorous affair, but they chose to do otherwise. There was a couple that was warned to keep the wedding a secret, otherwise, they would die on the same night after their wedding and that happened as was foretold. Many people, out of stubbornness and penchant for disobedience, will choose to please man and self and displease God; and they end up paying for it afterwards.”
According to Nwazuo, another reason a couple may go for a quiet wedding option was if there were financial challenges.
“Suffice it to say that many people, in order to show to friends, neighbours and even their enemies that they have arrived, go to the length and breadth of this earth to raise money to impress and end up terribly indebted soon after their weddings. But a good number of people always remember that life and feeding must continue after the wedding and thereby choose the quiet wedding so as to cut costs.”
Another reason is the stipulation of the church doctrine. As the cleric noted, “Sometimes, churches have elaborate wedding patterns that may make the couple go crazy on heavy spending to satisfy church authorities. However, there are a few churches now that advise couples to make the affair a quiet one. I make bold to say that I have advised so many to go for quiet weddings so as to save cost and ward off some terrible spiritual implications.”
‘It was either a ring before NYSC or the end of that relationship’
Speaking on his experience as a ‘quiet’ groom, David, noted that his experience stemmed from avoiding a fracas as a result of his cowardly betrayal.
“Invitation cards weren’t even printed. My father is late, so it was really my mother, sister and an uncle from my side of the family. I used to date some clients of mine, because my fiancé was out of town for her B.A. degree. However, somehow, she got wind of the affair and gave me an ultimatum. I had postponed plans to settle down many times, because like I always told her, I wanted to be very comfortable before settling down. However, the ultimatum came. It was either a ring before NYSC or the end of that relationship. We had put in three years into the relationship, and in all honesty, she had been such a wonderful companion, and my family had already accepted her. I had to give her some sort of assurance, and with the promise to throw a big ceremony after she concluded NYSC, and we had the quiet wedding. However, deep within me, I was grateful there wasn’t so much noise because I never really liked the terrible way things ended with the other lady.”
Planning a quiet wedding
Seyifunmi Thona Aivoji, a wedding planner in an interaction with Sunday Tribune, listed the requirements for a quiet wedding.
“The word ‘quiet’, as it relates to the Nigerian setting is relative. I’ve attended a wedding, which was described as quiet, with about 60 people as guests. However, over N500,000 was spent. If I were to advise a couple on planning a quiet wedding I would first ask for the budget. This is important because people can be funny. You would see couples making plans that would cost N1 million, yet they have a budget of N200,000. So, an idea of the budget is necessary.
Quiet weddings vary in Nigeria because it is not uncommon for invitees to invite other people. I would suggest not more than 50 guests from both sides of the family. However, for food and drinks, plan as if you invited more people. The guests should also be made up of some family members and a few friends,” she said.
Sharing her experience of organising a quiet wedding, another Lagos-based events planner, Mrs Nonso Anderson, , stated that “quiet weddings can take place as simply a registry affair with a reception, probably in the living room of the couple or as a traditional or church wedding ceremony involving a few family members and friends. The venue can be as the couple wishes, but the couple has to ensure that the number of guests is limited and that invitation specifications are strictly adhered to. Preferably, use the parking space of a house, a small hall, or a small field, depending on the weather. Also, use security, to restrict the allure of unwanted guests.
“I actually prefer quiet weddings because they are better organised and the couple feels the intimacy and can savour the moment as they take a big step in their lives together. The ceremony makes more meaning. One ceremony I planned recently, the bride was over 40, and I guess that’s why she went low-key. Big weddings are too disruptive, impersonal and usually ends with the fear that the planner cannot quite satisfy the client because, whether the person likes it or not, there will be complaints.”