Meet Nigeria’s go-to event planner

Funke Bucknor-Obruthe is the go-to event-planner for Nigeria’s biggest and brightest stars and is proud of the role she’s played in helping to shape this exciting industry

Bucknor-Obruthe’s best known for her luxurious and upmarket weddings. “One of the major challenges we faced over 14 years ago was getting clients and the public to accept that they needed the services of professional event and wedding planners,” she says. At the time, most people planned their own functions.

The relative obscurity of the sector was one of the reasons Bucknor-Obruthe’s decision to enter it raised many eyebrows. Another was the high social value placed on professions, including the one she’d just embarked on. The University of Lagos law graduate worked at a legal firm for only two weeks before resigning to pursue a part-time job at a PR and advertising agency. While there, she began planning weddings for friends free of charge and once she felt she’d gained sufficient confidence, she resigned to start Zaphaire.

Her legal background, however, has come in useful, she says – particularly when preparing documentation for her businesses.

Bucknor-Obruthe says her work ethic comes from her mother, who’s always been a committed entrepreneur. The now saturated Nigerian event-planning industry means she has to stay up to date with trends to remain relevant. “There’s a lot of competition now, which keeps us on our toes. We have to continually be the game-changers and trend-setters,” she says.

Those trends currently include the use of green pantone colours in lighting and special effects. The market also favours clean, elegant and minimalist decor elements, which is why the use of white and neutrals is increasing in popularity.

The sister of popular Nigerian radio personality Tosyn Bucknor, she believes that networking and perseverance are key to success. “Even if you fail at something, you have to keep going. Don’t give up – be relentless and firm, but kind,” she says.

She shares more of her insights in her wedding-planning book, The Essential Bridal Handbook (Amazon Digital Services LLC). The book offers advice on everything from make-up and bouquets to honeymoons and wedding retinues. It also contains practical tips for dealing with the Nigerian bridal culture, from overcoming pre-wedding jitters to handling the post-nuptial phase.

This first appeared in the May issue of DESTINY