Planning an event is such a big deal and definitely requires a lot of attention, commitment, and hard work. Now when planning a wedding, we know how much work goes into making such a memorable day for the couple, the families and their guests. For this reason, we followed the amazing Nelly Wellington, CEO OF Wellington Events to find out how a day as a planner goes.
Nelly Wellington is the Creative Director and CEO of Wellington Events Limited. A Nigerian based exquisite events planning company. She discovered events planning in her third year at the University. After planning a beauty pageant as part of her final year thesis, she got the confirmation she needed. However, that did not happen immediately. She worked as a Sales and Marketing Executive and eventually as a Call Center Agent and then as a business Development Executive for different companies at different periods in Abuja before finally resigning to fully start up Wellington Events full time. Thousgh still young in the industry but it’s been a roller coaster of exhilarating experiences and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This, right here is where I belong.
Now let’s get into her day
So it is 6:30 am on a cold Saturday morning and I am thinking to myself “Do I really need to get out of bed right this very moment?”. I mean, the wedding ceremony isn’t till 3:00 pm and I had gone to bed quite late putting up a few finishing touches to my design and making new arrangements for 200 impromptu guests. “Maybe I can sleep in for another 15 minutes.” But I know better than this, 15 minutes of sleep and before you know it, boom! Its 9am. Not today! So I pick up my phone and scroll through Instagram for a bit and then drag myself out of bed. I head straight for the shower. There’s no time for makeup. I throw on something simple. I make a mental note to pick up my dresses from Peace Conno Inspired so I can change before my events.
By 7:15 am I leave for the wedding venue and also send a reminder message on the group chat telling my team not to be late. On getting there, the decorator is not quite done with her work. They had pulled an all-nighter to make sure they were able to meet up with the new demands. I notice they had switched a few table covers and napkins at the back that did not align with the design so I ask them to switch and rearrange them properly. A few of my staff and coordinators are on ground. Then proceeded to contact all the vendors again and remind them of the time they are expected to be at the venue for the hundredth time.
I head to the second venue for my second event of the day. Thankfully, this is an intimate welcoming dinner for a small number of guests for 7 pm. Wheew! The venue is open and the decorator has just arrived. I reconfirm with the vendors for the umpteenth time and ask my staff to follow up with them. Hassana, My bride’s makeup is to start by 11 am and a few minutes before then, the makeup artiste Simbi of LBV informs of her arrival. These are the kind of vendors that just warm my heart. The cinematography and photography teams are expected to arrive the bride’s location by noon as per the timeline schedule I’d sent earlier. The second Makeup Artiste for the bride’s step mum, Titi of Hermossa is equally at the location and has begun her makeup. I arrive at the bride’s location and she is almost done with her makeup. We are a little behind schedule because the family members just arrived and Hassana, the bride needs to come out to be presented with blessings from the elders. But that’s fine. When tradition calls, we answer!
By 1:58 pm, makeup and photo session are officially over. I realize I cannot pick up my dress from the designer so I put a call through to her to deliver it to my assistant at the venue via Uber. “I will just change when I get to the venue.” I thought to myself. Shortly after this, I get a phone call from my staff that the Nikkah ceremony at the mosque is over and that guests were already arriving at the reception venue! Wait, what?” It’s not 3:00 pm yet”. I immediately drive down to the reception venue and the decorators are just tidying up the last pieces. OMG! The Father of the bride is here! This hall is supposed to be ready like yesterday! And we can’t keep him waiting now. Can we? So here I am trying so hard to stay calm and not to go into the “Crazy Planner Mode”, yes, it’s a real thing. Luckily, this doesn’t take long. The doors are flung open and the guests are allowed to come in after presenting their access card.
In the midst of all this, I call my staff at the second location and she confirms the decoration is almost done. At about 6 pm, the decoration is completely done. So by 7:15 pm, the wedding reception is over. Thankfully, the event went smoothly. I ensure the wedding cake is dismantled and loaded into the bride’s car and then leave my staff to coordinate the remaining things while bidding the couple goodbye. I jump into my car and drive straight to the house of my second client in Maitama. The makeup artiste, Titi of Hermossa is almost done with her work. Khadijah looks ravishing and so does her baby, Nur. A few photo sessions after and we are all headed to the venue. As I drive on, I remember I completely forgot to change for the wedding ceremony. I quickly change into a dinner dress on getting to venue number two and aid Khadijah in changing into her second dress. Everyone seems to be having a good time as the event comes to a close.
Its 11:48pm. I get home, I get into the shower, take a warm bath and retire to bed. My phone tells me I’ve taken 11,237 steps for the day. It is a good day.
Yay, a lot definitely goes into being a wedding planner. BNW asked a few questions
BNW: What is it like being a wedding a planner in the North?
Nelly: When I first started planning Northern Weddings, it was a bit confusing for me. It was a whole new culture that I was just discovering and had no idea of. I found out unlike the South, the North held their wedding Ceremonies for days, sometimes a week even. I had to learnt the names of the various ceremonies for the various days and what exactly was done for each of the days. The purpose of each event, who could be in attendance for which events and stuff like that. For example, The “Sa llale” is typically an all-women affair while the “Daurin Aure” was for the men. So it was a whole journey of learning. Thankfully, my very first Northern Bride was so helpful. She literally explained everything to me step by step and those times when I would mix the names of some of the events, she would all so graciously correct me. Honestly, she was my saving Grace. Lol. After that wedding, I took out time to do a little research on Northern weddings and I can say, it’s been amazing! As a matter of fact, right now, my Hausa-Speaking skills has Improved just a little bit from what it used to be to when I first Started. Which by the way was Zero. Lol. But now, I can make meaning of somethings that are spoken in Hausa and can even speak a little bit 😁. Like “Ina Wuni. Su na na Nelly. ” Meaning “Good afternoon. My Name is Nelly” 😁
BNW: What are your top three hacks that work every time?
Firstly, I always double confirm everything in writing and triple check everything especially when changes are made to avoid miscommunication. I do this, especially with vendors. Secondly, when I feel like it’s getting too overwhelming, I talk to someone. Sometimes I just rant and then I’m all good again. It works every single time. Last but not least, “Be open-minded”. Always keep an open mind and respect other people’s beliefs especially when they make absolutely no sense to you.
BNW: Any advice for upcoming event planners?
Be honest in all your dealings. As planners, we are trusted with so many finances from our clients. Don’t feel pressured to cut corners or cheat unsuspecting clients. It took a while for the events industry in Nigeria to get to where it is, please don’t put others efforts and work to vain.
BNW: If you were stuck in a desert for two days, what are your must-have items?
Umm, first would be water, it has to be top on the list. Secondly blankets, I hear temperature drop insanely low in desert areas at night. Of course, sunglasses for obvious reasons.
It was so nice chatting with Nelly. Thank you so much for sharing about your day. Guys, you can get to see her work on Instagram via @wellingtonevents_.