Sharon of Shamol Experience on planning the biggest Igbo Weddings
Every weekend (and very recently weekday), people are planning to get married and if you have ever experienced a wedding party in Nigeria, you would agree that weddings can be everything. They can be intimate or elaborate, quiet or mirror a Lagos club experience and they can even very easily turn into a fashion show. Sharon of Shamol Experience is a gifted wedding planner who stands out by planning mouth-dropping Igbo traditional wedding in Nigeria. The Queen of the East shared on creating niche wedding business ideas for her business, planning some of the most viral traditional weddings in Nigeria, her struggles with managing finances as a wedding planner, and her next move when the father-of-the-bride passed on during a wedding she planned.
Who is Sharon of Shamol Experience?
If I am being honest, I can’t separate my business from who I am. I am an easy-going and God-fearing wedding planner who has been blessed enough to plan some of the biggest Igbo traditional weddings in Nigeria.
Currently, I mostly plan traditional Igbo weddings and some of my weddings have gone ahead to be viral events.
How did you go into wedding planning?
Oh, this is a very funny story. I literally got into wedding planning in Nigeria by accident. I was preparing for a vacation and wanted to do something useful with the free time I had before my trip, so, I asked some of my friends for ideas. Everyone had something different to say but for some reason, I decided to try out how to plan a traditional wedding in Nigeria.
I went to an event planning school and realized that I could get paid for something I had been helping people do all my life, planning events.
I prayed about it and the Holy Spirit told me that was my path.
What is your life like as a wedding Event planner?
It’s a lot of work. Wedding planning is a lot of hard work and involves a lot of emotions. As a wedding planner, I am in charge of so many people’s feelings and that means that sometimes, I don’t have time for my own feelings. Even when I am sad, a bride can call and she is crying. I have to cheer her up.
What is the favourite part of your job?
The event!!! I love the event part of my job. It’s like seeing your baby coming to life and I get a rush from all the pressure that comes with it. The planning and calling before the event can be boring but the event day is soo much fun!
Why did you decide to focus on Igbo Traditional Weddings?
I graduated from Nnamdi Azikwe University in Awka and while I was there, I realized that Igbo people did a lot of their traditional weddings in the east and there was no major wedding planner catering to that. Traditional weddings are so interesting, the culture and colours make it so lovely so it was a no-brainer for me.
It was a business-meets-passion kind of strategy.
Can you tell me about the first wedding you planned?
I launched my business in October 2017 and did not get any jobs till April 2018.
My very first event was for an ex-beauty queen’s wedding. Some people had convinced her to use me and she was sceptical because she hadn’t seen pictures of any work I had done. Somehow she agreed to use me and after the wedding, the event became viral. Bellanaija shared it and it was a popular “Instagram wedding” and that was it for me.
I never had to struggle for jobs after that and I am so grateful to God for that.
What is the biggest event you have ever done?
This is a difficult one because in terms of popularity it would be Williams Uchemba’s wedding but in terms of size and capacity, it would be the event I had yesterday which was for 2000 guests.
What is the process for booking Shamol Experience for my wedding?
- We send you a rate card with terms and conditions
- You pay 50% of the planning fee
- I send my clients a list of trusted vendors to pick from to accommodate their taste
- We pay vendors
- Pick outfits and so on and so forth
So the planning fee is separate from the wedding budget?
Yes definitely, the planning fee is a function of the size of the event and the location while the budget is a function of the client’s pocket and taste.
What makes up the bulk of your expenses as a wedding planner?
Transportation and feeding. Apart from paying my staff, I still have to feed them and move all around the east to plan weddings.
Transportation is the top thing because I am travelling across different states.
Currently, how do you manage your finances?
I have a notebook I use to manage all my expenses and income. I pay my staff and do a lot of savings. I am actually very excited to hear about an app I can use to manage my finances.
What is the craziest experience you’ve had since you got into the business?
I have more than one oh! The top 3 are:
- The event starting without rentals. As in no chairs, no canopy, nothing. The rental company got stopped by the police or something. The rental vendor arrived at the event during the event and that was when we set up.
- The bride’s father died on the spot. The bride was dancing out in her second outfit and her father slumped in his chair. We had to hide it from her till the event was over.
- The caterer slumped while setting up food for the event and by the time we got her to the hospital, she was dead.
In every situation, our first thought was to make sure the event continued. So being an event planner is not easy.
What has contributed to your growth so far?
For me, the number one thing is God. Apart from that, social media has been very helpful to me. I post my events on social media and I get so many referrals and enquiries. How I have grown really surprises me because some people even move their weddings around to fit my schedule. It's really been God and hard work.