The wedding series begins with two service providers in the wedding industry. The wedding planner from Nigeria, and a hotelier from Kenya. In addition, is a bride from from South Africa. From the three Sub-Saharan African countries: Kenya Nigeria and South Africa, we get insights on the spending in the wedding market, the luxury brands of choice and whether the luxury brands are consciously paying attention to this huge market in the continent.
A wedding planner who works with high budgets for the event is Elizabeth Aisien whose business is mainly focused on Nigeria and the brides prefer brands that are both African and internationally recognized. Based in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, she is the CEO and Founder of a wedding and event planning company known as Private Luxury Events and also has a store in Lagos, Nigeria is known as Prive Atelier where she stocks wedding dresses from various brands from Vera Wang to Caroline Herrera.
If you search online about her work you may run into a few stories that indicate some of her Nigerian clients have spent at least 1 million pounds for a weddings. In a wedding she planned the couple spent more than $ 60, 000 on flowers.
“When planning for the wedding, most of the brides love Vera Wang, Elie Saab and Ralph & Russo. Brides will spend more than $50, 000 on a wedding dress. They also love African wedding designs such as Yemi Kosiba and Andrew Iyamah Bridals,” explained Aisien. “For the jewelry, the brides often select Cartier, De Beers and sometimes Van Cleef & Arpels. Many bridal parties wear Vera Wang and Truly by Zac Posen. There are Nigerian couples who spend at least more than $1 million for their weddings.”
The men often select suits from Tom Ford and Armani, Christian Louboutin shoes. For destinations, the venues include: The Dorchester and the Claridges in London, Armani Hotel Dubai, The Address Hotel Dubai and the Four Seasons London.
“When it comes to gifts, the most popular gifts that are handed out in Nigerian weddings are iPads, phones, home decors, perfumes and designer scarves. It also depends on the amount client wants to spend on each gifts,” she explained.
The challenge faced by Aisien is the lack of these stores in Africa which leads to time consumption in travelling to source the products.
“These brands do not deliver to Africa, event planners and brides travel abroad to source for these brands. I think it will be a great idea to have these brands establish retail outlets in Africa, the African market is very large especially when you have a large fan base,” said Aisien. “If stores like Vera Wang are established in Africa and are easily accessible, it will save potential clients the cost of having to travel out of the country to shop. Many potential brides put off the idea of getting dresses from these major brands as they are unable to see the dress and fit before their big day.”
Yolaan Bebie, a bride from South Africa got married in a boutique hotel known as La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek, Cape Town, South Africa who selected a range of brands for her wedding. One of her choices was YSWARA luxury brand from Africa.
“We chose three tea flavors from the collection: Lord of Kanem (Rwandan green mint tea), Ubuntu (Black tea), and Askia on Songhai (Rooibos, ginger & pineapple). Our overall design theme for the day was “Luxury Africa”, so the Yswara tea was a perfect fit,” said Begbie. “Part of the brands we selected were Jimmy Choo for shoes, and the groom wore Dolce & Gabbana suit, Dior shirt and J.M. Weston shoes. The wedding invites were from Monique Lhuillier.”
The wedding and honeymoon venue is explained to us by Shamim Ehsani, proprietor of The Tribe Hotel in Nairobi , Kenya.
Their most popular rooms for wedding nights and honeymoons are the Presidential Suite and Penthouse, which both run at approximately $1,500 per night.
“Wedding seasons are cyclical, so at various times throughout the year we get busy with weddings. In 2015, we hosted 14 wedding groups,” explained Ehsani. “The top three African high net worth spenders that we have hosted at the hotel from the wedding market are from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The highest spend from a single wedding group was USD 150,000.”
There is growth in the spending of this market which is yet to be tapped by luxury brands.
“African weddings have always been grand, but recently, there seems to definitely be a movement towards over-the-top wedding requests.”