If there ever was a little Miss Fix-It for the Nigerian wedding planning industry, it would be Queen Ohamara.
She is the CEO of Qmara Vie Planners, an event planning company based in Abuja Nigeria where she has been planning weddings on her own since 2015.
She comes alive when working on creative and unconventional weddings like the time earlier in 2015 where a bride didn’t want flowers and candle lights as part of the decorative set up.
At first, it seemed daunting because flowers are part of the usual decor, but our bride wanted clear vases and candle lights.
In the typical resourceful Qmara fashion, she was able to get the best out of the vendors on her roster and deliver the bride’s creative vision for the day.
Then there was also her first outdoor wedding which she also planned in the first year.
Finding a befitting and unique location was the drive here. This wasn’t going to be the usual church wedding. The minister had given the thumbs up that he would come to the location and so all hands were on deck to make sure all the plans pulled through.
We’ll let her tell the rest of the story in her own words.
Starting and inspirations for getting into the wedding planning industry
“I started my business in 2015 after working with an event planning and decor company. Being the first child I’ve always been one to take charge of situations and fix things. It started from school where I would help my friends plan their bridal showers. I derived so much joy doing so.”
When she says “school” here she means the University of Abuja where she finished in 2011.
After that, she worked as a website designer and content development specialist for a company. She would later work for another company and rise to be the head of admin before she found the passion for the wedding planning industry.
Even though she had seen the movie “The Wedding Planner” when she was younger, Queen never thought the wedding industry in Nigeria would evolve into what it has become today. Back then professional opportunities in the wedding industry weren’t so well thought out.
Her entry into the industry wasn’t orchestrated in the usual way. She didn’t foresee this, and so all the wedding planning she did prior to this was for fun and not the money.
Would you start your business over differently if you could?
Her answer is a definite…
“Yes, I would.”
Before Queen started out on her own she had only worked for about 8 months with another planning and decor company before leaving.
She says this time she would spend more time making sure she was assured of everything.
As the perfectionist that she is, she doesn’t think that was enough time and enough projects to learn, improve on mistakes, and create a distinct professional style.
Luckily it all worked out well in the end.
What has been your greatest motivation?
“Accomplishing a task or something worthwhile motivates me, I always want to deliver.”
A worthy task can be anything like getting unique fresh ivory bouquets ordered for the bride when pink ones were delivered in error.
Instead of throwing blame games, she had it fixed. There was a Plan B; another fresh flower vendor willing to send a florist over on a Saturday morning when most Abuja outfits aren’t open yet.
It pays to have a healthy roller deck of vendors on call in case of a setback and an also healthy dose of Igbo skepticism that makes one cover for all possible outcomes.
Changes in the Nigerian/Ghanaian wedding industry
“The Nigerian wedding industry has improved tremendously. There is so much creativity and it has created room for more employment. There are more vendors coming up with new ideas which are really spicing up the wedding industry.”
Even though she hasn’t planned any Ghanaian weddings yet, she does have plans to expand into destination weddings.
Any place would be nice for a start… Ghana? Togo? Dubai? She is open to the challenge and would approach the job the same way she would for a Nigerian wedding by researching vendors, wedding customs, and making sure all the protocols add up.
The joys of working in the wedding industry?
“It allows me to be creative, meeting new clients, coming up with new ideas… No two events are the same so there is always something new and exciting to look forward to.”
What differentiates you from other planners and what are your greatest strengths?
“Our attention to detail and the amount of effort we put into delivery.”
In planning a wedding and pulling off those miraculous saves which she has now come to be known for, she expects “maximum cooperation” from all her clients.
What if you aren’t in the country anytime soon before your wedding? Not to worry! Queen has been able to pull off beautiful weddings with only having physical access to the mothers of the bride and groom.
The last time that happened, she was able to work with the mothers and put together a tight ship without previously meetings of the couple. She did meet the bride and groom eventually 2 days to the wedding and they gave their seal of approval to everything Queen and the mummies had done.
So long as your parents or proxies are trusting and cooperative, the wedding planning Queen can pull it off.
What Advice do you have for future brides and grooms regarding using a planner?
“Get a planner! it saves time and money.”
Most people are skeptical about how a planner can save time and money as I’m sure that you are.
For Queen, the math and the logic are quite simple. A planner has access to many vendors with favorably pre-agreed rates.
She can get discounts from the vendors that the client cannot. That’s just the nature of the planner and vendor relationship.
Advice for up and coming wedding planners?
“Take your time and work with an experienced event planning company. Study the market before you start your own business.”
Over the phone, she starts to tell me about how this kind of experience can be really helpful. Planning an event is more than just calling vendors.
You need to learn how to track incoming payments and outflows. You need to learn how to come up with production schedules.
There are lots of things behind the glitz and the glamour… you can only be exposed to the administrative work involved once you work behind the scenes.
What’s in it for intending brides and grooms?
The value you get when you roll with the Queen is clear… the wedding of your dreams with all the pomp and pizzazz from a well-oiled wedding machine.
If you doubt it, give her a call. Craft it together and slay it together! That’s what the Queen does every day and that’s what she’ll do for you.
View Qmara Vie Planner’s page to learn more and to contact vendor.