Weddings in Nigeria are not private affairs – they are public displays. The music is loud, the jollof rice is plentiful, and the festivities go on for hours. Everyone is invited, and those who aren’t come anyway.
I’ve attended dozens of Nigerian weddings in the past year: sometimes I’m one of the people who is invited, and sometimes I get to weddings in other ways. I’ve found that while Nigeria's rich and poor live vastly different lives, for weddings everyone primps, postures and spends as much as they can.
A wedding with thousands of guests is one way to visualize just how big Nigeria's economy is – 160 million people live in Nigeria and it has the second highest GDP in Africa. Money trickles down from the 2.5 million barrels of crude oil produced per day by the Oil and Gas people; government jobs come with a steady paycheck and endless opportunities to embezzle; and the rich here are richer than most people outside of Nigeria could ever imagine.
People throw money around at weddings, literally: guests “spray” – they toss bills at the bride and groom as everyone dances in an energetic cluster. Dutiful bridesmaids run around collecting the spray before naughty children can get to it.
These photos are about what it costs to get married in Nigeria: what money can and can’t buy, and the quiet moments during frenzied ceremony.