Congratulations on your engagement! So you’ve started planning your wedding and are feeling a little overwhelmed? There’s so much to keep in mind while planning your big day between picking a date, finding the right venue, and creating a guest list.
But do not worry – we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll show you how to plan an African wedding step by step! We’ll walk you through each step of the wedding planning process so you can stay organized and on track while avoiding common wedding planning mistakes.
Let’s jump right in!
- Pick a Wedding Date (Consider Different Seasons)
- Set a Wedding Budget & Track Your Expenses
- Pick a Wedding-Planning Tool
- Consider a Wedding Planner or Coordinator
- Select a Wedding Theme
- Make a List of Wedding Day Priorities
- Find Wedding Inspiration
- Choose a Venue
- Start Your Guest List
- Notify Important Family Members
- Pick Your Wedding Party
- Start Your Wedding Registry
- Create Your Wedding Website (Optional)
- Book Other Wedding Vendors
- Get Wedding Insurance
- Finalize Your Guest List
- Send Your Save-the-Dates
- Plan Entertainment
- Buy Wedding Attire for Bride and Groom
- Plan the Honeymoon
- Plan & Attend Pre-Wedding Events
- Send Wedding Invitations
- Buy Wedding Rings
- Attend Premarital Counseling
- Create a Seating Chart (If It Works for You)
- Get a Marriage License
- Keep in Touch With Your Vendors
- Book Hotel Room Blocks
- DIY where it makes sense
- Take Some Time Off
- Plan Your Rehearsal Dinner
- Finalize Setup Details
- Make a Playlist
- Write Your Vows
- Get a Wedding Day Survival Kit
- Pick Up Everything
- Say Thank You
- How to Plan an African Wedding FAQ
- Final Thoughts
Pick a Wedding Date (Consider Different Seasons)
Your first task will be to pick a wedding date. Although this may seem like an easy task, there are actually a lot of factors to consider when choosing a date for your special day.
You’ll want to consider things like the season, availability of venues and vendors, and even holidays.
For example, if you want to get married in a particular venue that’s only available during the summer, you’ll obviously have to pick a date during that time.
Or, if you want to avoid holiday weekends when everyone is away on vacation, you’ll need to steer clear of those specific dates.
Keep in mind that certain months or seasons are more popular for weddings than others.
Once you have a general idea of when you’d like to get married, start narrowing down your list of potential dates by checking the availability of your favorite venue and vendors.
Expert tip: Most couples start planning their weddings about a year in advance. Due to the current pandemic, we recommend booking the most important vendors at least 12 to 15 months in advance.
Set a Wedding Budget & Track Your Expenses
After picking a date, it’s time to start thinking about your budget. This is one of the most important (and sometimes tricky ) parts of wedding planning.
First, start by evaluating your finances – this will help you set a realistic budget for your wedding.
You’ll need to sit down with your partner and figure out how much money you’re willing to spend.
When creating your budget, keep in mind the following:
- The cost of the venue – This will be one of your most significant expenses.
- The cost of catering – We all know food is a huge part of African culture!
- The cost of photography and videography – These are some of the most critical vendors, so make sure you budget accordingly.
- The cost of decorations – This includes everything from the flowers to the table centerpieces.
- The cost of music – You’ll need to budget for a band or DJ and any other music-related expenses.
- The cost of the wedding dress – Obviously!
- The cost of invitations and other stationery – Don’t forget about postage.
If you want to get married on a budget, consider getting married on a weekday instead of a Saturday.
You can also save money by DIYing some of the decorations or favors.
And, if you’re flexible with your guest list, you may be able to invite fewer people and stay within your budget (we are aware that this can be hard to achieve for African weddings).
Once you start booking your vendors, remember to keep track of your expenses. This will help ensure that you stay on track and don’t overspend.
You can track your expenses with a spreadsheet or download a wedding budgeting app.
You can also download our free wedding Budget Planner and track your expenses right away.
Pick a Wedding-Planning Tool
Ok, so we might be biased, but using a wedding-planning tool can make your life SO much easier while you’re trying to plan everything out.
Wedding planning tools help you manage all the different details in one place. They are also helpful for keeping track of your timeline and can give you access to checklists and customizable templates.
We recommend using our printable wedding planner. It’s the perfect tool for couples who want to stay organized while planning their big day. It’s easy to use and comes with many great features (track your guest list, wedding budget, wedding vendors, and much more).
Consider a Wedding Planner or Coordinator
Many couples choose to hire a wedding planner to help them plan their big day. Here are the pros and cons to consider when deciding if you should hire a wedding planner.
Pros of hiring a wedding planner
- Wedding planners can take a lot of the stress out of the planning process by taking care of all the details, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
- They have years of experience working with vendors and know how to get the best deals.
- They can also deal with any problems that could come up while planning your wedding.
- They can help you stay on budget and give you plenty of advice.
- They can introduce you to new ideas and concepts you haven’t seen before.
Cons of hiring a wedding planner
- You don’t have all the control, so you might not know every detail of your wedding.
- Wedding planners can be expensive. Depending on the level of service you need, they can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
- They also require a lot of input from you – from what type of wedding you want to what kind of flowers you like; this could get overwhelming.
If you decide not to hire a full-time planner, you can always hire a day-of coordinator.
These professionals will help you set up everything on the day of your wedding and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Select a Wedding Theme
Your wedding theme will set the tone for your big day. It can be something as simple as a color scheme or a more specific concept like “vintage” or “beach.”
Once you’ve decided on a general direction, start thinking about how you can incorporate your theme into every aspect of your wedding, from the invitations to the decorations.
Make a List of Wedding Day Priorities
One of the most important things to do when planning your wedding is to make a list of your priorities.
What is the most important thing to you? Is it the food? The flowers? The dress?
Once you know what is most important to you, you can start making decisions.
Find Wedding Inspiration
One of the best ways to get inspired while planning your wedding is to flip through wedding magazines, browse wedding blogs and spend time scrolling through Pinterest.
Apart from getting ideas for decorations, food, and attire, you’ll also get a sense of what’s popular right now.
Follow us on Pinterest for more inspiration.
Choose a Venue
Your ceremony and reception venues will play a big role in determining the overall look and feel of your wedding. Do you want a grand ballroom or a more intimate setting? A church or a garden?
Think about the type of wedding you want to have and start looking for venues that fit your vision. Once you’ve found a few potential venues, schedule tours so you can see them in person and get a feel for the space.
When visiting each venue, pay attention to the following:
- Will you be able to incorporate all your traditions?
- Have they dealt with different cultures in the past?
- Is it the right size for your guest list?
- Is it available on your desired date?
- Does it fit within your budget?
- What is the cancellation policy?
- What is included in the rental fee (tables, chairs, linens, etc.)?
- Is there a food and beverage minimum?
- Can you bring in your own vendors, or are you restricted to a specific list?
- Are there any restrictions on decorating?
- Can you bring your own food? (We know this is SO important for most African brides!)
Start Your Guest List
Make a list of everyone you would like to invite, including family, friends, and coworkers.
Once you have a preliminary list, start whittling it down by considering the following:
- Your budget – The more people you invite, the more expensive your wedding will be.
- Your venue – Make sure your venue can accommodate your desired guest list.
- Your relationship with each person – If you’re not close to someone, they might not need to be on the guest list.
Once you have your final guest list, send out save-the-dates so your guests can start making arrangements.
For more help creating your guest list, take a look at this post.
Notify Important Family Members
The sooner you notify your family members about your upcoming nuptials, the better. Most people like to give their families plenty of time to make arrangements, so sending out save-the-dates at least six months before the wedding is a good idea.
For important family members who live far away, give them even more time to make travel plans. This is especially important for destination weddings!
Pick Your Wedding Party
Now we’re getting to the fun part!
When choosing your wedding party, it’s essential to keep your relationships with each person in mind.
Do you want to ask your best friend to be your maid of honor? Or your cousin who you haven’t seen in years?
Think about who would be the best fit for each role and make a list of potential candidates.
Once you’ve decided, it’s time to ask your friends and family members! Be sure to give them plenty of time to say yes or no!
Start Your Wedding Registry
Start by making a list of everything you’ll need once you’ve settled in.
Then, start looking for registries that offer those items. For example, most major retailers offer wedding registries, as do websites like Zola or Amazon.
Create Your Wedding Website (Optional)
If you want to keep your guests in the loop, a wedding website is a great way to do so. Wedding websites can include everything from the ceremony and reception details to your registry information and directions to the venue.
Book Other Wedding Vendors
Once you’ve planned your budget and style and found your venues, it’s time to book the rest of the vendors.
Start by finding a photographer and videographer who fit both style AND budget. Then find a DJ or band who can set up all those fun tunes at the reception! Then, proceed to book the rest.
Get Wedding Insurance
Consider getting wedding insurance. It could protect you from potential disasters such as lost deposits, weather-related cancellations, vendor no-shows, etc.
Most policies cost between $100 – $250. This benchmark includes two main types of wedding insurance coverage; Liability Insurance and Cancellation or Postponement Coverage.
The cost differs based on the different factors such as the number of guests, venue, and amount of coverage you need.
Finalize Your Guest List
Now that you’ve booked most of your vendors, it’s time to finalize your guest list. This is especially important if you’re having a destination wedding or if your venue has a limited capacity.
Send Your Save-the-Dates
Sending save-the-dates lets your guests know that your wedding is coming up and gives them a heads up to make arrangements.
When sending save-the-dates to weddings, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
First, send them out well in advance – 7 to 9 months before the wedding is a good rule of thumb. This will give your guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements if they need to.
Second, be sure to send them to the right people. Save-the-dates are sent to notify your guests that your wedding is coming up, not invite them to attend. So, only send them to people you definitely plan to invite to the wedding.
Finally, save-the-dates don’t have to be super fancy. In fact, a lot of couples choose to send out a simple postcard or email instead of an expensive card.
As long as the message gets across, it doesn’t matter how you send it!
When planning your wedding, it’s important to think about how you want to entertain your guests.
Do you want a band or a DJ playing music throughout the night?
Think about what type of music you and your guests would enjoy and start planning from there.
Don’t forget about other forms of entertainment, like games or a photo booth.
Don’t forget to plan entertainment for the kids attending your wedding.
Buy Wedding Attire for Bride and Groom
It’s time to purchase your outfits! However, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to wedding clothing.
First, remember that choosing something you’ll feel comfortable in is important. You’ll be wearing your outfits for a few hours, so you don’t want to choose something too tight or constricting.
Second, think about the style of your wedding and aim to choose an outfit that will fit that theme.
For example, if you’re having a beach wedding, you might want to choose a flowing dress or light suit.
If you’re having a more formal affair, you might opt for a longer dress or a tuxedo.
Finally, don’t forget to factor in the weather. If you’re getting married in the middle of summer, you’ll want to choose a light and airy outfit.
Conversely, if you’re getting married in the middle of winter, you’ll want to choose heavier attire that will keep you warm.
Plan the Honeymoon
Don’t forget to plan your honeymoon!
There are a lot of different places you can visit, so it’s essential to think about what type of trip you want.
Do you want to stay in a hotel or rent a villa for the week? Are you looking for a beach vacation, or would you prefer to ski in the mountains?
Once you know what type of trip you want, start researching different destinations.
Plan & Attend Pre-Wedding Events
You’ll need to plan and attend a few pre-wedding events.
The first event is your engagement party (if you are going the modern route). This is a great way to celebrate your engagement with your closest family and friends.
The next event will usually be your traditional African wedding, followed by your bridal shower.
Then finally, there’s the bachelor/bachelorette party. The party is often thrown by the bridesmaids and groomsmen and is a last chance for the bride and groom to let loose before the big day.
Send Wedding Invitations
Send out your wedding invitations well in advance – 3 to 4 months before the wedding is a good rule of thumb. This will give your guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements if they need to.
Buy Wedding Rings
It’s time to purchase your wedding bands! Make sure you pick rings that you love – you’ll be wearing them for the rest of your life! Don’t forget to factor in the cost. Wedding bands can range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, so set a budget before you start shopping.
Attend Premarital Counseling
Consider attending premarital counseling.
Couples undergo the process to help them understand their relationship better and discuss any issues that may arise in the future. It can also help couples learn more about each other, develop better communication skills, and set expectations for their new lives as a married couple.
In addition, the couple needs to know what they’re getting into. It takes work to maintain a healthy marriage, so attending counseling can be a great way to start on the right foot.
Finally, premarital counseling can help reduce the stress of the wedding planning process.
Create a Seating Chart (If It Works for You)
Seating charts can be logistically challenging to implement at large African weddings, as there may be hundreds of guests in attendance.
This might be a good option if you are having a smaller intimate wedding.
Regardless of the approach, it is essential to remember that seating charts are not a universal solution and that couples should adapt their plans to fit the needs of their guests.
If you decide to create a seating chart, you’ll need to consider the venue’s layout. You’ll want to make sure that people are seated in a way that makes sense and that they’ll be comfortable.
Get a Marriage License
You can’t get married without a marriage license! So make sure to apply for one well in advance of your wedding date.
Once you have your marriage license, make sure to keep it in a safe place – you’ll need it on your wedding day!
Keep in Touch With Your Vendors
Remember to always keep in touch with your vendors. This will help them understand what you want and need from them. It will also help them stay organized and on schedule.
Communicate all the essential details and let them know if anything crucial changes. Of course, you’ll also want to let them know your final headcount.
Book Hotel Room Blocks
Book hotel room blocks for your out-of-town guests. By doing so, you are essentially reserving a certain number of rooms at a hotel for your guests and making sure they have a place to stay.
DIY where it makes sense
Have you ever thought of DYIng some aspects of your wedding?
Here are a few benefits of DIYing:
- You can save money
- You can have a unique wedding that reflects your personality
- You can get creative and have fun with the process
- You can watch your vision come to life
- You can DIY many things, but be careful not to take on too much.
The last thing you want is to be stressed and overwhelmed on your big day!
Take Some Time Off
Don’t forget to take some time off! Planning a wedding can be stressful, so it’s essential to take a break when you can.
Schedule some quality time for yourself and your husband or bride-to-be. Trust us – it will help you stay sane during the wedding planning process.
Plan Your Rehearsal Dinner
A rehearsal dinner is a small gathering of the wedding party and close family members the night before the wedding.
This is typically a more informal affair than the wedding itself, so it’s an excellent opportunity to get everyone together for some fun and relaxation.
Finalize Setup Details
Now that you’ve done most of the hard work, it’s time to finalize the details.
This includes deciding on your final menu, choosing your favors, and sending out the invitations.
By finalizing these details early on, you’ll give your vendors plenty of time to prepare for your big day.
Make a Playlist
Don’t forget to make a playlist for the DJ or wedding band!
This is an excellent opportunity to bring together your favorite songs and create a soundtrack that will make your wedding day even more special.
Write Your Vows
The best wedding vows are personal, intimate, and relevant to your relationship. But if you’re anything like most people, writing your vows can be daunting. After all, how can you capture the love you feel in just a few short paragraphs?
Your vows declare your love and commitment to your partner, so they should be genuine and reflect who you are as a couple. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- First, take some time to reflect on why you’re getting married. What are the things you love most about your partner? What values do you share? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? This will give you a good foundation for writing your vows.
- Keep it simple. Your vows don’t need to belong or be flowery – in fact, they’ll probably be more meaningful if they’re short and to the point. Just say what’s in your heart.
- Be yourselves. Your vows should reflect your personalities, so don’t hesitate to inject a little humor or personality into them. A little lightheartedness can go a long way in making your vows memorable.
- Practice, practice, practice! Once you’ve written your vows, read them aloud several times before the big day so you’re comfortable with them.
- Remember that your vows are for your partner, not for everyone else. This is your chance to express how you feel, not impress the guests.
Get a Wedding Day Survival Kit
A wedding day survival kit is a must for any bride. This kit should contain everything you need to survive your big day, from pain relievers to deodorant.
You’ll be glad you have it when your big day finally arrives!
Pick Up Everything
Now that your wedding day is almost here, it’s time to start picking up all of the final pieces.
If you have any last-minute items that need to be taken care of, now is the time to do it.
Say Thank You
Last but not least, don’t forget to say thanks! Wedding planning can be a lot of work, so thank your family and friends for all their help.
And, of course, don’t forget to thank your fiance. After all, they are the reason you’re doing all of this in the first place.
How to Plan an African Wedding FAQ
Planning a wedding can take anywhere from six months to two years. It depends on the size of your wedding, whether you’re DIYing or hiring vendors and how quickly you want your big day to come about.
1. Set a realistic budget.
This is probably the most crucial step in planning your wedding. Sit down and figure out how much money you have to work with. Decide what items are most important to you and allocate your resources accordingly. This will help you determine what kind of wedding you can have and what kind of vendors you can afford. You’ll be able to keep track of your spending and ensure that you don’t overspend on any one item.
2. Start looking for deals and discounts.
Once you have a budget in mind, start shopping around for deals on big-ticket items, from the dress to the venue.
3. DIY where you can.
One of the best ways to save money on your wedding is to do it yourself! There are plenty of DIY options for everything from invitations to decorations. With a bit of creativity, you can have the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.
4. Consider a less traditional venue.
If you’re flexible with your venue, you can often find cheaper options just as beautiful as more traditional venues.
5. Don’t forget to negotiate.
Remember, you always have the power to negotiate with your vendors. If you’re not happy with their initial quote, don’t be afraid to haggle! You might be surprised at how much you can save.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind:
1. Your budget.
Your budget is one of the most important things to consider when planning your wedding. There is nothing worse than overspending on your big day, so sit down with your partner and figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend.
2. Your guest list.
Another vital thing to consider is your guest list. This will determine the size and scale of your wedding, so it’s essential t to get it right. Start by making a list of everyone you want to invite, then whittle it down from there.
3. The date and location.
Once you have your budget and the guest list sorted out, it’s time to start thinking about the date and location of your wedding. These two factors will heavily influence your big day’s overall feel and tone, so choose wisely.
And there you have it! You are now officially ready to plan an African (white) wedding. Remember to take your time, do your research, and delegate tasks to trusted friends and family members.
Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! After all, a wedding is only one day, but the memories will last a lifetime.
What do you think?