By Jemi Ekunkunbor
Planning a wedding isn’t always an easy task for most couples. Budgeting, and planning with various vendors can take its toll on the couple, who has never walked this path before.
The task of taking this heavy burden off couples, rests squarely on the shoulders of these women who earn their living from planning events.
While as a student at the University of Lagos, Mosunmola Nicole Akinwamide, discovered her interest in the Event Planning business. Side jobs in modeling and ushering opened her eyes to the potentials in the industry.
This later metamorphosed into the Ideal Protocol Company (IPC), an event consulting and Service Company with national and international acclaim.
Today, Mosunmola that ambitious student who is in the forefront of popularizing themed events in Nigeria, runs a company with over 500 client portfolio, and is named top ten leading planners in Africa by Sheik/Prime minister of Dubai in 2017, and was also invited and recognized as one of the top 100 Planners in the world by the prestigious QNA International, at the Annual Planners Xtraordinaire Show (PX Show) in 2017.
The sought-out conference speaker, is set on raising a new crop of event planners to operate on a scale of excellence and enterprise.
This she does through her training academy that has graduated hundreds of intakes.
In this interview, Mosunmola Nicole Akinwamide talk about about wedding from planning to execution.
Did you think those small ushering jobs you did would usher you into this career line?
Not necessarily, but I was fascinated by every event. Every event was a reminder of where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, so I kept an open mind. Let’s just say that all those ushering events led me here.
At what point did you conceive of this as a business?
I was in my second year in the university. I had just returned from an event I ushered in. The planner at the time was in distress; her designated coordinator couldn’t make it to the event, and she was short staffed. Because I had worked quite closely with her, I replaced the opened spot. It wasn’t business as usual. I worked my life out on that project that night. I just knew what to do at every turn like I was being guided. After that event, I knew there was something bigger than this and since then, I have been exploring till date.
How did you learn the ropes?
I am a self-trained Planner, I remember when it became apparent to me that this was it, I had tried to learn from different established planners at the time, but to no avail. I was just about to go for my NYSC (National youth service corps) when it dawned on me that if I was ever serious about this profession, I would have to learn the ropes myself. This turned out to be a very lonely and painful ride. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learnt from them very quickly. What I resolved to do was to read a book on event every week. By the time it was a year, I had read almost 60 relevant books on events and other related subjects.
But again, residual knowledge wasn’t enough. After that year, I kept looking for events I could plan for free. I started with a few friends’ events. Again, I realized that what you read in books and real-life experiences sometimes don’t measure. But with a lot of mistakes and learning to get it right, I became better and formidable.
What did you do to set yourself apart from the rest?
I started to plan inwards. Everyone was pretty much planning the same way and as a result, all events started to look similar. Most certainly, I didn’t want that. So, I started to ask myself some salient questions. If I wanted to get married, what kind of wedding would I want? How would I like it planned? What memory would I want to linger? How can I infuse my personality and interest into my wedding? How can I make my wedding personal and my own in Nigeria? How far will I be willing to go? Etc
After trying to provide adequate answers to these questions, I stumbled on creating unique experiences for our clients through themed weddings/events, without even knowing what it was called. And from what I hear on the streets, they conveniently call us the King of Themed Events in Nigeria/Africa without questions. That is exceptionally, something we do very well, and to be honest, that has kept us apart from the rest.
What does planning a wedding entail to you?
To me, it basically means creating unique and mind-blowing experiences for our clients through their vision, desires and personality. I don’t just believe in the science of arranging chairs and tables in the hall, with the best possible decorations. I believe it is certainly more than that, and that’s what we seek to prove through our works and projects.
When planning a wedding, what are your expectations from clients?
It’s simple. I expect my clients to have expectations and discuss them to the letter, so I am on the same page with them. I expect them to be completely honest about everything. For example, you can say, “I have N20, but I want a wedding that will look like I spent N100, or this is the number of guests we are truly expecting. We several cases where clients were not completely honest about the number of guests they were expecting. They tell you something like, “we are expecting 500 people” and over 2,500 guests show up, and they end up throwing me and my team off balance. So, yea, please be completely honest with your planner, as you would your lawyer and Doctor.
What would a client do that will frustrate your efforts?
I will attempt to state a few. If you’re so indecisive and we have to always change everything by the second. If you’re not actually being realistic above all reasonable and tested doubt, if you constantly undermine my work and efforts with everyone’s opinion around you, if you’re verbally and physically abusive and disrespectful to everyone, regardless of who it is or if you don’t listen and you’re set in your ways etc.
The list can go on, but the truth is, nobody wants to experience all of the above at the same time; because I have.
What excites you about Nigerian weddings?
The culture, the burst of colours and the extra-ness of Nigerians excite me. How can I forget, the small chops?
What is that one important thing that must be included in planning to make a wedding tick for you?
That has to be the personality of the couple.
How does it feel to be recognized internationally for what you do?
It is still so surreal and a dream for me at the same time. But I am truly, deeply humbled and honored.