1. Make two lists; a Must-Have List and a Nice-to-Have List. Grab your fiancé to do this with you.
Your Must-Have list contains things you know you need to make the wedding the most successful to you. Your Nice-to-have list is for anything else that will be good to have but does not determine your wedding’s success or your happiness. Let’s not deceive ourselves, not everything is a must-have so be true to yourselves as a couple and make that clear from the beginning.
2. Review your Must-Have list and put a timeframe to each item with the corresponding cost. Thankfully, I have created a wonderful Wedding Budget Template to help.
3. Make notes of when the next stream of income will come and plan for it. If you earn monthly, plan ahead on how much of it goes into your wedding.
4. According to priority, review your Nice-to-Have list and add the maximum you can spend on each item.
5. When money comes in, check off something on your Must-Have List. Repeat until everything is checked off.
6. Use extra income to start checking things off your Nice-to-Have list, in order of priority.
7. When help is offered, as long as you have items on your Must-Have list, channel all help to this list first before anything else.
8. Repeat as often as required. In my line of business, I’ve realised that the smartest brides are those who always stay on top of their finances.
Remember, the whole essence of this is for you to take one day at a time. There is no need getting so frustrated about what isn’t available or living beyond you.
You’re on your own budget! #NoComparison.
Always remember, you’re not alone and I’m always here to help.
Doreen Nyamaka has always had a passion for wedding dresses, decor, and planning, since her childhood. But she finally stepped into the business of wedding planning in 2015 when she was getting married and her husband had insisted they plan the wedding themselves without asking for contributions or help from family and friends.
Doreen could not get a professional wedding planner to handle her wedding preparations, that was when she noticed there was a gap in the wedding industry.
From there, Doreen quit her job, went to a wedding planning and management school and got a certificate in wedding planning in 2016.
How did you get into wedding planning in Tanzania?
Wedding planning is actually a new thing in Tanzania. Normally weddings are paid for by family and friends who help the couple with contributions and the whole planning process which is never professionally.
As you’d expect, this leaves the couple super stressed and with no authority over their own wedding.
I am determined to introduce it and make people save themselves the stress of planning a wedding, and reducing boring and repetitive weddings which do not represent their vision.
How do you differentiate yourself from competitors?
First, I take my job very seriously and treat every wedding as my own. I want to make it right for the things I could not do at my wedding. This is my passion, so I give it my all when I get a client. Apart from that, I am a professional, with an MBA and wedding planning, flowers and decor certificate.
Most of my competitors go with passion and intention to make money. I have the passion, skills, and commitment to turn my client’s dreams into reality.
What has been your challenges in this business so far?
My biggest challenge so far is awareness. People do not know what wedding planning is, and how it can save them stress, time and money. It has been difficult to introduce the new culture and win clients over.
Are there peculiarities to doing business in Tanzania compared to other countries?
I guess so. In most countries, couples do not ask for contributions, the couple fund their own wedding with maybe a little help with close family members. I doubt that people go all the way to do a fundraising just to get money for their wedding. I think this only happens in Tanzania.
What do you wish you knew before you started the wedding planning business?
I wish I knew that this new culture of wedding planning will take a while to be acceptable and that the old culture of planning a wedding is deeply rooted and will take time to be uprooted.
What is your best memory on the job?
The last wedding I planned and coordinated in 2016. The father and daughter danced to Luther Vandross’s song “Dance with my father again”. That moment was so epic and emotional, I can still feel the goosebumps.
Final words to other entrepreneurs…
Before you jump into a business, make sure it connects to your core. Don’t go into it because of the money only, but because you love what you are doing from your heart. That way even if you face challenges and you can’t find a way, you’ll still hang in there, and step forward.
Do you have a business idea that isn’t popular in your country?
Have you recently gotten engaged? Congratulations! Are you deep in the trenches of the madness that is planning a wedding? E-hug. I had no idea what I was getting into when I began to plan my wedding. Prior to getting engaged, I had invested little to no time envisioning my wedding, and I generally dreaded attending weddings (with some exceptions). What I have always enjoyed though, is research and strategic planning. Likewise, when it was time to plan my wedding, I treated it like I would any professional project.
It’s been a year since I got married and with the rear view mirror in sight, here are 5 tips I would give any #BossBride:
1. Develop your wedding brand
To begin my wedding research, I followed major wedding sites like Bella Naija on social media. I pored through every single post on blogs like Aisle Perfect and bought books like Vogue Weddings: Brides, Dresses, Designers. Once I had a better grasp of things, it was time to decide on my wedding brand. What will my wedding look like? What will it feel like? I asked myself these questions because I didn’t want my wedding to be a copy-and-paste smorgasbord of every trend. It was especially important to me to have a bit of my personality stamped on the wedding.
Accordingly, I put together a concept note describing my vision for my wedding (aka #Blavid2015). I have always been passionate about the arts and I created my vision around this. Both my traditional and ‘white wedding’ were like mini-concerts: I had traditional dancers, a choir, musicians, a quartet and poetry reading. Of course several things went wrong on my wedding —but what most people (hopefully) remembered, was the music and the ambiance.
2. Get the budget figured out early
A vision without the finances to execute it is pretty much useless, so it’s important to get the finances figured out early. While the bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding in Western countries like America, this is not always the case across the African continent. My husband and I come from different Nigerian cultures, with different traditional rules about who pays for the wedding. Thus, it was important for both families to discuss who was paying for what and decide on the budget early in the process. Getting a budget together will require getting various price quotes and a lot of prioritization, so it’s best to get an early head start.
3. Do not waste your human capital
Once I had a vision and a budget, it was time to figure out who would help me execute my vision. Beyond the usual suspects like my maid-of-honor and best friends; my mother and I delegated tasks and asked favors from whoever asked what they could do to help (perhaps to their shock, Ha!).
For example: a family friend who owns a marketing firm designed our logo and handled the programs; another who is a creative helped design my wedding website and invitations. One of my photographer friends did my engagement shoot, and another friend with a hair business hooked me up with a great hair extensions. A former family chauffeur organized a tour of the city for our foreign guests, and my brother-in-law’s fiancé made our bridal train proposals. I could go on and on, but the point here is: #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork.
4. Beware of social media vendors
Beautiful Instagram feeds do not a good vendor make. Some vendors spend so much time boosting their social media profile that they neglect their actual products and customer service. Additionally, particularly in Africa, some of the best vendors might not be social media savvy or on the Internet at all. No matter how many popular wedding hashtags a vendor is affiliated with, no matter how many blogs rave about a vendor, no matter if a vendor is a family member or friend —do not choose a vendor whose work you have not seen, touched, tasted, heard, etc.
5. Negotiate your contracts like a CEO
I shamelessly negotiated prices with every vendor I worked with and they all gave discounts. Two of the most stupid mistakes I made however, were paying some vendors 100% upfront and not insisting on written contracts. As a lawyer, I am very ashamed to admit this. I blame my desperation to book these vendors and what I’ll call PWSS (Pre-Wedding Stress Syndrome).
One vendor failed to deliver on almost everything he had promised—it nearly brought me to tears at my reception. When I wrote to him after the wedding, he apologized and explained that a bus with some of the materials he needed had not arrived on time. One year later, a promised refund remains buried in a labyrinth of excuses and justifications. I wanted to sue, but my pastor-mother insisted on leaving it all to God. The moral of this story: a) protect yourself by insisting on paying a balance after the wedding, and b) document all your expectations in a detailed contract.
A final note: flexibility and adaptability are important skills for any seasoned professional or entrepreneur in today’s world. The same applies to a wedding: you may have to make concessions to make your family, in-laws and partner happy. I was resistant to some things at first (Type A problems), but I eventually realized that I would have a much happier wedding if all the important parties had some buy-in. I also rolled with the punches—or danced with them, I should say. I decided I would be happy on my wedding day no matter what, and for every mishap I noticed, I danced a bit harder. By the end of my reception, my curls were undone, my foundation had bled, and I had danced my happy heart out.
Here comes the bride! She may be looking kind of stressed but it’s her big day. Preparing for a wedding can be hectic but thanks to the Internet, brides can ease the burden a bit. Hadassah Bridals is a growing brand that delivers wedding gowns to brides through its website. Its founder Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole recently completed a World Bank-sponsored course at the Enterprise Development Centre at Lagos Business School. Here she shares tips on running an online business in Nigeria and how to make the most out of your wedding day.
Who is the person behind Hadassah Bridals?
My name is Ifedolapo Olayemi-Okewole. I’m the woman behind Hadassah Bridals, a business that came to being in December, 2012. The idea for this business was birthed in Manchester, UK in 2012, a year after I got married. I recall that it was my experience as a bride that was at the heart of this business idea. I had a very tight schedule during preparations for my wedding.
When I was doing my wedding shopping, I didn’t have the luxury of time and resources to visit a lot of stores for wedding gown trials and the likes. I did most of my shopping online and I received all my packages in good condition, including my wedding gown.
Our business idea then was to make wedding dresses of different varieties available to brides online and at reasonable prices. So we decided to offer bridal gowns of very good quality and designs to target this class of brides.
We stock our gowns from other designers; we also have options for custom-made wedding gowns. Custom-made wedding gowns are made based on the specifications of the bride. This gives the bride the opportunity to add a lot of details to her dream wedding gown. We take such requests and forward to our designers.
Why the name Hadassah?
The name ‘Hadassah’ is from the Bible. Its one of Esther’s names (Esther 2:7) and it means Compassion.
Tell us a bit about your experience with the World Bank sponsored program.
The program is a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Management sponsored by the World Bank. I won the Women X scholarship last year. I took that step because I needed hone my entrepreneurial skills. I was not sure I was doing everything according to the books. A friend sent me the application details online and I applied. An interview was conducted and about 50 women were selected for my class, which was Cohort 4 in the Women X scholarship program.
The 6 months in-class training changed my perspective totally on business and living a fulfilling life. I met women who were in different stages in business and this made me realise that I am not alone in the entrepreneurship drive. The school faculty was and is still highly supportive because they provide us platforms for business growth.
As a Nigerian company based online, how do you make effective sales?
Our idea is to understand our market sector and develop strategies online to reach them. Because we started online, we use a lot of the social media platforms for sales. This is complimented with an open cart-enabled website. We also use eCommerce stores like Konga and Kaymu to drive sales.
What online platforms do you use to cater to your clientele? Have you had any challenges with them?
Over the years, we have built a robust BBM channel. This has our largest followership and has become a critical platform for our business outreach. Customers place orders via our BBM channel or Whatsapp Social chat platform. We also use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest for our social media campaigns.
We have a physical store in Ifako, Gbagada, where we also attend to customers.
Most online Nigerian businesses focus on Abuja or Lagos, how do you reach clients in other/smaller cities and towns?
We can confidently say today that we have a clientele that is widely spread from Maiduguri in Northern Nigeria to Bayelsa in the South-South region and from Cuba to cities in Europe and South Africa. This has been made possible through our online platform and partnership with a leading courier company like Courier Plus. They handle our door step deliveries to all the states in Nigeria, and also our international shipments.
How can a woman make the most of her wedding day?
A woman should be happy on her wedding day. She is the center of attraction and she dictates the mood of the event. A vibrant bride makes for an enjoyable ceremony. One of the things I tell my brides is to ensure that they have light breakfasts on their wedding day. The wedding day is filled with a lot of activities and the bride often forgets that part.
What old wives tale should all brides listen to at all costs?
One old wives tale is, “don’t look at the mirror when dressing up on your wedding day”. Uh, how easy is this? A bride wants to know what magic the makeup artist is performing on her face but I think she’s better off being told that she is beautiful so she doesn’t get too conscious of her face on her wedding day.
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This is question that runs through just about every girl’s mind once she counted as a woman. In the 70’s, women were often married off by the time they were 18-years-old, even earlier when cultural norms were considered. If you were 25 and still unmarried, you were seen as an old spinster. Emphasis on the word “old”. But after the 70’s, the average age at which women got married only continued to rise instead of falling despite terms like, “old spinster”. This happened across the world as the dynamics around what and who a woman was as well as what her duties and limitations are began to shift.
The historical angle
There was a point in time when the status a woman got was solely attached to her father’s name and her husband’s after that. For this reason, I think women, even those born into families with strong reputable names, made sure that they married into status. This had to be done as soon as possible, of course before all the good men with the good names got swept up.
But once women were able to get their own jobs, make their own money and demand more respect than they were only able to in previous times and environments, there was a sudden shift. Women had more liberties then and the need to achieve more for themselves outside the aspects of family grew. What all this has done in subsequent years is, it’s made more and more women think about themselves, their own name, reputations, careers, and futures. But we still yearn for companionship. We still want that place in a family as wife and mother.
A right time to tie the knot?
But is there a right time to tie that knot? Everyone has an opinion about when the right time is and their own reasons for backing it. Your grandmother might say the moment you turn 20 you are ready. Your auntie, the nosy one who’s in everyone’s face, might say when you’re 24. Your mother might say when you’re done with school. But when are you done with school? You get your first degree, and then perhaps your second. Then your masters and then suddenly getting a PhD seems like the next best option. There will be those people who will say that you just must marry before your eggs “grow old” and preferably before you turn 30, the apparent age when everything in your body starts to shut down, so that you can have kids and be young with your children.
“You don’t want to have to run after a 5-year-old when you’re an old and tired,” they will say. But now technology has given us a way to preserve our eggs, get sperm donors, use surrogates and along with the increased awareness and great regard for fitness and nutrition, this reason to tie the knot earlier rather than later has started to weigh less than it did before. More women are adjusting their timelines for just about everything.
What does the public say?
I went out to see what the Ugandan public thought was the right time to tie the knot. One lady I spoke to felt that any time is the right time when you’ve met the right person and are physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially ready to take that step while another without hesitation replied 28. One unmarried guy seemed to agree with this adding that you need to be at a place where you are willing and able to provide for a family. When the married people, both women and men, were asked for their opinion however, they had this to say,
“The time is right just when it is. There is no formula when it comes to emotions.”
“You’ll never have enough money. If you love her and she loves you back and you both see each other in each other’s lives long term, get married”
“You’ll never be perfect and rounded in all the ways you want to be. If you’re both on the same wavelength and love each other, just do it.”
“After you have found yourself and your centre because if it is because if your reason for marrying is loneliness then you’re making a big mistake. Loneliness is a spiritual, emotional condition.”
After considering the replies of happily married people, we can with some confidence, say this much. Before you join yourself in holy matrimony with someone else, make sure you are happy, fulfilled, whole, healthy as an individual and ready to give 100%. There is no certain universal time when a person is at this place in their lives. Despite all this, marriage is an institution that requires two whole persons not two half empty vessels.
When is the right time to tie the knot? You decide.