Mrs. Omolara Akande, a seasoned wedding planner with over 19 years of professional experience in the industry has often been referred to as the very first professional wedding planner in Nigeria.
She runs Just Weddings, which is part of the JW events group specializing in wedding and event planning, décor styling and consultation
She is founder of APPOEMN (Association of Professional Party Organizers and Event Managers of Nigeria which she founded in 2011. The creative mind behind Wedding Fayre, an annual bridal fair which takes place in Lagos, which is in its 5th year.
Growing up did you always see yourself as a wedding planner?
Though I never planned to be a wedding planner, I guess the fact that I was born into a family that was very social, ignited my interest. I was always the flower girl for any of my relatives back then and I believe the fact that my grandmother was a baker and grandfather was a wedding cake decorator, I saw my grandfathers first-hand the intricacies entailed in planning and that piqued my interest even more. Oh! My dad was also a professional children’s Uncle Wole Akinosh of “Animal Games” entertainer so I guess we can say I come from a line of planners and the interest has always been there.
Seems like a fun way to grow up, so I think it was only a matter of time and opportunity for you?
I guess so, even as a teenager whenever I go to houses of friends or extended family and they were having a party, automatically my brain starts thinking..where to put the DJ? or how the food will be served? While everybody is having a good time, my brain and feet are working on giving them a fun experience.
But being that in that era most parents wanted their children to go into white collar professions, how were you able to overcome that pressure?
When it was time for me to go to a university, I gained admission to Obafemi Awolowo University to study microbiology although in hindsight I should have studied Theatre Arts (She laughs) I believe that would have been a better expression of my passion. When I graduated and I got a job with Phillips Consulting, a Consulting Firm .
The truth is I always lived for the days where I could help my friends plan their parties and weddings (At that time most of them were already getting engaged). So when the time came for me to choose my path, I did! I knew I didn’t want to be a children’s party planner like my father, my heart wasn’t there, I knew I wanted to work with brides. I had a terrible knack for always critiquing weddings so I thought why not do something about it and really that’s how it all started…can’t believe it’s been 19yrs since the very first wedding I planned. Wow!
It must have been a challenge being the only wedding planner at that time?
Nobody took me serious back then, they felt it was a hobby and some felt who needs a planner when there were a thousand and one relatives around to help, but that’s where God’s grace and passion played it’s role, because regardless of what people said, I kept at it and today it’s another story
Let’s get back to the present situation of things. Covid-19 is changing the world as we know it and being a professional in a world that now needs social distancing, what ways are you looking at evolving?
People have been planning their wedding and we don’t expect them to just cancel or put off their plans because of the virus, so JW events came up with a virtual wedding fair called the Virtual Wedding Fayre.
Tell us a little more about the fair?
The wedding fare is really for people getting married between the year 2020/ 2021 be it a bride-to-be, a wedding/event vendor or anybody who has a passion for the wedding industry. Event vendors will be given a platform to showcase themselves, especially those who have had to go back into the background due to the pandemic, they will now have the opportunity to advertise themselves to prospective clients on a large platform. We see it more as a Wedding Market for brides to be and potential vendors who are looking for deals and bargains, from the comfort of their homes.