Do you want to invest in the wedding industry in Africa? Are you planning on becoming a wedding entrepreneur in Africa but are unsure whether you are making the right decision? In this article, we will take a deeper look at the wedding industry in Africa and whether the sector provides good prospects for both existing and new entrepreneurs. In the recent times, Africa’s wedding landscape has undergone a huge transformation reaching a multimillion dollar status and positively impacting African economies.
Weddings are a serious affair in Africa, having a rich history that traces way back in time. In many African cultures, weddings are a long tradition with deep cultural, social and religious significance, a trend which is still prevalent today. The only difference is unlike traditional weddings of the yesteryears, today’s weddings are modern, elegant and contemporary.
Statistics estimate there are more than 5 million weddings that take place in Africa every year. Large African cities are always spruced up with pomp and color, especially on weekends, as numerous weddings take place across various parts of the city. African weddings remain the single most expensive and important event for many families on the continent.
The wedding industry continues to attract many entrepreneurs given the fact that weddings in Africa have now become a way for couples to impress their friends and peers. Widespread internet use, especially social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, have helped to launch the industry to new heights.
The average cost of a modern African wedding ranges between $4,000 to as much as $60,000 or more. Africans, no doubt, spend millions per year on costs associated with weddings, in turn opening up numerous opportunities for wedding entrepreneurs who are keen on investing in the wedding industry in Africa.
Despite recession and slow economic growth that affected a couple of African countries, the wedding industry seems unshaken and continues to grow even further. Expanding disposable incomes, buoyant middle class and young couples keen on style and willing to spend the money have kept the wedding industry in Africa growing.
How Weddings Are Sustaining African Economies
The popularity of weddings on the continent has created new professions, which have gone a long way to create jobs and numerous business opportunities. In Nigeria, for instance, wedding ceremonies are lavish and extravagant. Nigerian weddings are celebrated on an elaborate scale.
The CEO of Zapphaire Events, a Nigerian event company, Funke Bucknor-Obruthe said, “Nigerians love to celebrate and want to outshine others.” Weddings are a status symbol, and for this reason, the country’s wedding industry is booming. Strong social media influences have encouraged stronger western influences in white weddings, thus expensive tastes associated with today’s modern couples.
According to Weruche Majekodunmi, founder of Newton and David, a Lagos-based wedding event design and décor firm, “Weddings keep our economy going. Normally, the rich Nigerians will spend their money abroad whenever they go shopping. Thanks to the wedding industry, the money is being invested back into our economy. Jobs of caterers, tailors, carpenters, and upholsterers are being sustained.”
In Kenya, the trend is similar with the wedding industry pumping over half a million dollars into the Kenyan economy every year. African wedding entrepreneurs in the country have continued to grow rapidly in order to meet the increasing demand for services.
A good number of professionals in Kenya have ditched their lucrative well-paying jobs and ventured into wedding entrepreneurship after realizing the potential in the industry. The peak wedding season in Kenya begins in August to December, just before the Christmas holidays.
Kenyan Wairimu Mwai, the founder of Sidai Brides, left her well-paying job as a Relationship Manager at Commercial Bank of Africa to become a wedding entrepreneur. After working for 8 years, her dream to become her own boss marked the journey of success. “Because of time constraints, I could not be able to work at the bank and do my side hustles. I had to let go of one. Above all, my business had great potential for growth.”
Her business is a household name, and today, she’s the official distributor for top international wedding designer gowns such as Sottero & Midgley and Rebecca Ingram, among others. She dresses a wide range of clients including top celebrities. Her gowns are priced between $800 and $4,000, and she sells an average of 6 to 10 gowns per month.
There are other numerous success stories from the industry as wedding planners, cake-makers, florists, photographers, music bands, car hire limos, hotels, and beauticians continue to enjoy making good profits. The cost of an average wedding in Nairobi is approximately $4,500. However, the middle and upper middle class spend up to $15,000, while the wealthy spend over $ 5,000 on a single wedding.
According to research by a top Kenyan wedding firm, Samantha Bridals, at least 28,000 couples get married in Kenya annually. “Kenyans are marrying late in life when they are established in careers that afford them a disposal income which they can use to finance the kind of wedding they want,” according to Dr. Catherine Masista, the Founder of Samantha Bridal.
Other African countries are also experiencing huge successes in the wedding industry. South Africa, for example, benefits a great deal from wedding tourism as many couples getting married around the continent choose South Africa as their favorite honeymoon destination. South Africa is famous globally for its exotic and romantic honeymoon destinations.
Influence of New Wedding Trends
The current generation of couples are tech savvy and have been deeply influenced by the internet and television. Heavy spending witnessed on weddings is a reflection of celebrity culture that is widely shared on mass media platforms. Couples now use the internet to organize their weddings and, as a result, some entrepreneurs have ventured into online wedding planning and vendor directories. Using the internet, couples can easily get information about service providers and plan their budgets.
Wedding Opportunities for African Entrepreneurs
There is no doubt African weddings have created massive business opportunities. Aside from African couples getting married, foreigners are also choosing Africa as their favorite wedding destination.
Given the fact that weddings are part of the society and shall always exist, it is a lucrative industry for anyone thinking of becoming an African wedding entrepreneur. Innovation and creativity has attracted a huge number of young African entrepreneurs, to be part of the industry. A huge number of Africans living in the diaspora continue to invest back home in the wedding industry in Africa. With the increased demand for specialist service providers, there are many stories of successful startups across the continent.
Types of Services Offered By African Wedding Entrepreneurs
The wedding industry in Africa is a goldmine waiting to be explored. Here, we take an in-depth look into various opportunities the industry is offering. To have a successful wedding, various professionals are involved in the preparations right from planning to the actual wedding day. In this industry, both small and big businesses have an equal opportunity to explore various business opportunities presented by wedding industry in Africa.
Wedding Gowns and Accessories
The bride is the main centre of attraction in a wedding. Every woman will go to great lengths to ensure she looks good and charming. The global wedding gowns industry is worth over $10 billion. African weddings use various types of gowns in their ceremonies.
Wedding gowns vary in price depending on your budget and can be imported from countries such as China, United States, and Europe. China is commonly known for affordable gowns while Europe and the U.S. are associated with expensive designer gowns.
As an entrepreneur, you are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring brides find an elegant gown that matches their interest and personality. In addition, wedding gown entrepreneurs also sell a wide array of bridal accessories such as tiaras, necklaces, and earrings.
This is a key wedding service that has seen many African wedding entrepreneurs shine in the wedding industry in Africa . Nowadays, renting of gowns has become popular, especially for brides who cannot afford the cost of a new gown or prefer not to buy a gown. If you want to be part of this industry and you have no sufficient capital, you could start by buying gowns from married couples and resell or rent them to new brides. Overall, this is a key sector in the wedding industry.
Wedding Venue Providers
For a wedding ceremony to take place, a venue has to be selected for the occasion. It is approximated that 30% of the entire wedding budget goes to booking the wedding venue and reception. This is definitely one of the most lucrative income segments of African weddings, as the cost of hiring a venue is often significant. Service providers help their clients to search and make reservations for venues.
Venues are selected according to the guest seating capacity, security, availability of parking, and accessibility. In addition, entrepreneurs dealing with wedding venues help couples identify sites with the beautiful landscapes.
Wedding venues require a lot of money to build; however, it’s a very lucrative initiative for wedding entrepreneurs in Africa who can afford to build their own wedding venues. The key is to set up a wedding venue in the right location. In addition, entrepreneurs can also use this business to sell other wedding services to their customers and increase revenue margins.
Wedding Furniture, Equipment and Decor
As weddings in Africa continue to become more trendy and sophisticated, there is a demand for unique varieties of wedding furniture and other equipment in the wedding industry in Africa . There can be no wedding without tents, décor, chairs, cutlery, plates, chair covers, portable toilets and backdrops. The glamour associated with a wedding is determined by an elaborate color décor that is well-orchestrated to match the theme of the wedding.
Other useful equipment includes sound equipment and power generators. As an entrepreneur, you can decide to offer specialized services or provide an entire range of wedding venue-related items. Businesses that deal with wedding furniture and equipment either rent these items from other service providers or buy their own furniture and equipment.
Wedding Invitation Cards
African weddings have adopted the concept of wedding cards since they set the pace for everything else, as well as create an initial excitement about the celebration. Couples value a wedding card and will spend whatever they can to make it look attractive. The business of designing and selling wedding invitation cards is quite popular among African wedding entrepreneurs. Aside from wedding cards, service providers can also design wedding programs and thank you cards.
Wedding stationery is a booming business in Africa because it allows the creative minds to do their thing. There are certainly numerous opportunities waiting to be exploited since many artistic, flair-for-design and creative individuals are still out there.
In the yesteryears, wedding planners were unheard of in Africa and the concept only existed abroad. However, with the rapid growth of the wedding industry in Africa, the demand for professional wedding planners is rising steadily.
Today’s couples are preoccupied with their careers and therefore require someone to help them plan a successful wedding. Wedding planners in Africa enjoy a lot of advantages because you can start a home-based business and get yourself clients who believe in your professionalism and capabilities.
Unlike in the past where nobody really understood the value of a wedding planner, today, many couples recognize the fact that having a wedding planner saves a lot of stress. The number of wedding planners has increased across the continent since you can start this business without any capital.
Wedding planners liaise with the client and various service providers to plan the entire wedding from scratch. As African weddings continue to become flashier and more extravagant, more doors of opportunities are opening for entrepreneurs to cater to the rising demand.
Cakes and Catering Services
African weddings are not complete without a cake and good food. Cakes signify a couple’s first meal. “You cannot have a wedding without a cake. This is because it is the only meal the newlyweds share with their parents and other guests at their wedding,” said Njeri, a Nairobi-based cakemaker. “The business is well-paying and I believe we are going to experience significant growth in the coming years as preference for modern wedding surges,” she added.
The highlight of a wedding is when the couple cuts the cake in front of friends and family. Cakes dominate a wedding’s theme as couples have the chance to choose between various designs, flavors, and colors. African wedding entrepreneurs in the cake industry are making it large.
Food is one of the most expensive items on a wedding’s to-do-list. Over the years, the number of professional caterers has increased as the industry employs more people to prepare and serve food during weddings.
Photography and Video
For a wedding couple, memories of their wedding need to be kept as keepsakes for the future. African weddings now incorporate photographers and videographers since they work hand-in-hand to capture the day’s memorable moments. Considering how vital this service is, couples are willing to pay handsomely to get top-notch professional services. Wedding photographers and videographers are usually hired to cover the entire wedding. There are lots of opportunities for African entrepreneurs wishing to venture in this industry, which calls for a lot of creativity and passion.
Bride Make-up Artists
After the wedding dress, a bride’s beauty cannot be compromised on her big day. In the past, wedding industry in Africa market wasn’t well-tapped in Africa; however, the rise in demand for these services has necessitated the need to have more professionals. This is a key service whose uptake across the continent has increased as brides go the extra mile to spend time and look good.
Master of Ceremonies
Commonly known as MC or Emcee, their work is to ensure guests at a wedding are entertained throughout the ceremony. Professional MC’s across the continent are making a proverbial killing as this sector continues to attract new entrepreneurs, especially youth with good public speaking skills with a good flair of humor. This field still offers a lot of opportunities for aspiring MC’s as African cities still need quality and entertaining MC’s.
Other key services associated with weddings in Africa include florists, wedding limos and chauffeur services, DJ’s, as well as Honeymoon planners and travel agents. As you can see, modern African weddings have completely transformed economies as the industry employs millions of people across the continent.
There’s no doubt this trend is expected to grow as weddings on the continent continue to become popular. It has been projected that in a few year’s time, the wedding industry in Africa will be one of the top key economic drivers of the African continent.
By Nelly Gachanja