Love & Other Funds is a monthly PiggyVest series that explores how Nigerians are spending, thinking, and dealing with money in their relationships — romantic or otherwise.
Ope Adedeji met Tobi Allen on Twitter in 2018. They fell in love not too long after, and in September 2022, they had the wedding of their dreams. For the first episode of Love & Other Funds, Ope and Tobi talk about financing their wedding, moving to London and how spending time together during the pandemic strengthened their relationship.
Where did you two meet?
Tobi: We met on Twitter. Lade, one of her friends, retweeted her picture to my TL. I liked it and followed her. Then she followed me back.
Ope: After we followed each other, we talked on and off for a few months before we finally met for the first time in January 2019. I used to work in a publishing house in Lagos, and he used to work somewhere not too far from there. As the friendship grew, he started coming to events organised by my workplace, and that’s how we got closer.
#WeMetOnTwitter gang! Tobi, did you know, at the time, that something was going to come out of that Twitter follow?
Tobi: I wouldn’t say I knew, but I hoped that it would.
How about you, Ope?
Ope: I didn’t know. I don’t even think I followed back immediately — he was still a random person to me. He just engaged with my tweets a lot, and I eventually followed him back. I still don’t even know the picture he’s talking about.
So, how did you go from being Twitter mutuals to dating?
Ope: During those events at my workplace, we would just have random conversations. We found out that we had a good number of similar interests. After that, we had a mani-pedi session — I tweeted about wanting to go, and he asked that we do it together. But because I have anxiety around people I’m not very familiar with, I brought my friend.
Tobi: She brought her friend — a man — who was taller than me by far.
[Laughs] How did you feel about that?
Tobi: I can’t remember because we hadn’t yet defined the relationship. We were still trying to get to know each other.
Ope: I brought my friend because we didn’t say it was a date. We just said we wanted to go for a mani-pedi session, and I told my friend to join us. Then there was another event — a potluck — after that, and we decided to do a movie marathon the next day. And that just sealed it. We got closer, and a few months later, we started dating properly.
At what point did you start talking about money?
Ope: I’m not sure, but it’s probably around 2020, when we started spending a lot of time together.
Tobi: It was during the lockdown period. We used to pull funds together to buy stuff. Before that, I used to buy everything.
Ope: When we started dating, I was earning ₦100k, and he was earning a lot more.
Tobi: That was, at best, ₦180k.
Ope: In my head, it was a lot more. Shortly after, I got a new job, and then he did too. My salary went up to about ₦250k, and his salary also went up to about the same amount. By January 2020, I got an increase, and he also got promoted. We were now earning about the same thing, and it felt unfair to me that he was the only one spending. That was what inspired splitting the costs.
Do you still maintain that?
Tobi: [Laughs] There’s only one bank in the house, and that’s me.
Did being together during COVID contribute to the decision to get married?
Tobi: Yes. We now understood how to be in each other’s space and the burden of finances — budgeting, how to spend money, prioritising needs and how to cook food (because buying food is expensive).
Ope: And there’s this thing Tobi always says about how we’d had all the squabbles we could possibly have in our first two months of living together. We were both indoors, and on most days, we were the only people we saw. After all that, you know whether or not you can live with a person.
After the lockdown, I had to migrate for my masters degree. The relationship would have taken a different turn, but because we had spent so much time together and we had grown to know each other in a different way, at the time I was leaving for school, it just made sense that we weren’t ending a relationship, we were thinking about how we could be together in spite of the difference.
And who brought up the marriage conversation?
Tobi: I guess it came up naturally. It was just the next step for us.
Did you feel pressure once the conversation came up?
Tobi: No. Maybe it happened, really, but I’m good at ignoring stuff like that. So there was no extra pressure.
How about you, Ope?
Ope: For me, marriage was just a continuation of what we had been doing before, but on a different scale. So I didn’t feel any kind of pressure.
How were you able to come up with a budget for the wedding?
Ope: By talking to people and hearing how much they had spent on their weddings. We already had a sense of what we wanted, but we didn’t know how much it would cost because nobody talks about these things publicly. I don’t really see people giving financial specifics on their wedding. The information we got from those we asked helped us decide what we wanted to go for and what we wanted to do.
Our event planner guaranteed us that for what we wanted, we wouldn’t spend up to ₦10 million. Once she told me that, I just put ₦8 million as the cap for the wedding, but we were hoping it would cost us around ₦5m, which, in reality, it did not.
So you had a budget and spent past it?
Ope: Not really. Our budget was still ₦8 million, but we just hoped we could spend ₦5 million, even though we knew it was wishful thinking after seeing all the quotes that a lot of vendors had sent to us. Our preferred hall for the wedding was ₦4.5 million.
Ope: Exactly. We didn’t go for it, of course, but that’s how expensive it can be.
Was the hall the most expensive part of the wedding cost?
Tobi: Decorations were actually the most expensive.
Ope: Yup. It’s just crazy because our vision was to have minimalist decor — something very nice and tasteful. But you find out that even doing that costs a lot of money. Our planner gave us a ₦2.5 million budget, and then we thought we would find someone to do it for less.
But the thing is that if you do, you’re likely compromising on quality. And even after we adjusted things, it still ended up being very close to the ₦2.5 million we were running away from. It was just crazy that it cost that much, honestly.
How did you marshal resources to cover the total cost of the wedding?
Tobi: We highlighted expected income – salaries, bonuses and wages – over the three months leading to the wedding, and planned with that.
Ope: Along with that, we also agreed to put away ₦200k every month in a joint PiggyVest Target Savings account, and doing that just helped because you even forget that the money is there. And the savings came through in offsetting some expenses without affecting our expected income.
Was there any expected income that didn’t come through?
Tobi: Not exactly. The only thing is that Nigerian banks are awful. I got double debits in thousands from a Nigerian bank on my dollar account, and it usually takes three to four months to resolve. They finally reversed it after two and a half months, but we were already done with the wedding.
The other hiccup was getting money out of the domiciliary account to spend in naira. It took me, at least, two and a half weeks and about 15 bank visits in total to withdraw all the dollars I needed. Because on some days, they would only give me $400; on some other days, only $300. So I had to keep going just to get my money out.
Was inflation something that came up at any point during the wedding planning?
Ope: Not really. I earn in pounds, so as the value of the naira declined, it kept working to my advantage.
Tobi: And our vendors didn’t change their prices at all, thankfully.
Did gifts play a significant role in financing the wedding?
Tobi: Not exactly. In total, friends and family accounted for about 10-13% of the wedding funds. Most of the other financial gifts came after the wedding.
Ope: The financial gifts that came before the wedding weren’t a huge amount of money. You know how people send ₦50k here and ₦30k there. It also helped that we have minimal black tax, so it’s not like we had to give our parents money for the wedding. Instead, they were the ones supporting us. Tobi’s dad paid for the food for the wedding. My parents paid for food for the engagement and for the wedding programme, and one of my uncles paid for the cars we used on the wedding day.
In total, we got about ₦2 million from friends and family (including the money that was sprayed on us at the wedding). We couldn’t come back to London immediately after the wedding because of how expensive the flights were, so that’s what we spent while we were in Lagos. I think the money was good, but, in my head, I expected it to be a lot more. But I also understand that the world is not exactly financially friendly right now because of inflation and everything. I don’t think it’s the best time to get married, but which other time is there?
After the wedding, however, we’re still receiving gifts — from friends, acquaintances and family.
At what point did leaving the country come up?
Tobi: There was always the standard plan to leave individually. Early 2021, I kept telling her that she’d already left, and we should just focus on getting me out of Nigeria. But our path got well-defined when she got her Global Talent Visa in December 2021. I was just about to start applying for my own Tech Nation visa when she got it. So I just migrated through the dependent visa route.
Did moving put any strain on your finances?
Ope: Yes, it did put a strain. The application was expensive — about £3,500 — and it was also close to the holiday season, so there were so many other expenses. I had wanted to apply for a different visa after my masters — the graduate visa — and already had the money for it. It’s significantly cheaper than the Global Talent visa because it’s just for 2 years. However, just as I was about to apply, I found out the Global Talent Visa has an Arts and Culture route that I was qualified for, and I could apply for up to five years. So I added the money I already had for my graduate visa and got loans from my dad and brother-in-law to pay for the Global Talent visa.
Luckily for me, I got the visa, so it wasn’t like the money was wasted.
That’s great. Was there something about the wedding that surprised you?
Tobi: You always need to make double the food for your guests, so food does not finish.
Ope: For me, it’s just how expensive normal services are once you specify that the service is for a wedding. If you want to make your hair and you say it’s for a wedding, they immediately double the price. The gele I tied for the wedding wasn’t any different from what any other person tied to the wedding, but I was charged triple the cost everyone else paid.
You guys seem to have had a lot of experience solving financial problems ahead of the wedding. Has that made it easier to manage money within the marriage?
Ope: I don’t feel like we have properly started money management. I feel like we’re still in the honeymoon phase. We’re setting up the house for instance, and we’re spending a lot of money. Tobi just spent almost 2000 pounds buying a TV, a TV stand, and setting up his workspace.
I moved here in July, so I also invested money in the space. My own mentality towards money has always been to save more and spend less, but right now, my philosophy is “This life na one. If you want it, buy it.” Tobi told me he saw a PS 5 the other day, and he said he didn’t buy it because he wanted to ask for my permission first. And I was like buy it o!
Tobi: That’s just a ploy, so she can buy her plants. The house has turned into a greenhouse.
Ope: But you can’t compare the price of both. I know that we can’t be broke, really. It’s a new life, let’s splurge on what we want and enjoy. Right now, we earn roughly around the same. So I feel like we’ll be settling into that lockdown scenario where we pull funds together and know how much we’ll be spending per time.
We already split the rent and bills, but we haven’t started splitting the cost for food and other necessities for the house. So it’s just like if we want this, we buy it. Sometimes, I’m like I want this, but Tobi will have to buy it for me. Most of the time, actually. Like the money for the plant that he mentioned, I’m still going to collect it from him.
Perfect segue. Tobi, walk me through a typical money situation in the house and how it gets solved.
Tobi: It goes back to that Twitter joke about how when women say they’re broke, they have money in their PiggyVest Safelock. In our house, I’m the current account, and she’s the savings account. I know that we’re married, so I cannot go hungry. Where my own money finishes, her own money will continue from there.
I know that if I open my account and tell her there’s nothing in it, she’ll open her own and bring out money for us. That’s how it is — we basically spend most of the money from my account. But it’s fine because I know that when it’s time, she’ll show love.
What’s a money trait about your partner that you love?
Tobi: She saves money, and not just savings for the end of the month. But proper savings for rainy days.
Ope: I think it’s just the idea of spending when you see something that you like. I used to be pretty tightfisted about spending. I would usually feel guilty after spending money, even if I was enjoying the thing I spent it on.
I’m learning to just spend the money, know that I spent it well, and dissociate from that feeling of regret. I think it’s — and it sounds very religious — an abundance mindset. The money is always going to come, so why don’t you buy what you enjoy?
Tobi, is that something you learnt as an adult?
Tobi: I learnt it in childhood and got convinced about it as an adult. I don’t know the best way to explain it, but I know that when I’ve really needed to raise money for different things, it has always come one way or the other. Either by salary increases or bonuses. The second part of it is just having a healthy balance between actually enjoying part of the money you make and preparing for the future.
What’s an awkward money situation you’ve had to navigate with Tobi?
Ope: None. I mean, if we were a traditional couple, it would be that at some point, I was earning more than he was. But it was never an issue.
What’s something financial that you both are hoping to do for each other?
Tobi: Short term, most of the things on my list are already crossed off apart from a phone and wearables and travel. Long-term items are bigger stuff like buying a house (even though we’ll both benefit from that. I have a list I call the material list – items I want to get, and I’ve ticked off most of them.
Ope: I don’t have a list, but obviously, if Tobi says that he needs something, I would buy it to surprise him. Something I care about is getting our parents to come to the UK to visit, and that’s something I want to do. His parents don’t know we’re thinking about it, but I’m planning towards making that happen.
Thank you so much. This was very enlightening.
Tobi: Thank you.
Ope: This was an interesting conversation.