Thinking about luxury weddings, Nigeria comes across as an unlikely destination. But the country, which is home to the majority of West Africa’s billionaires thanks to its oil reserves, gas, telecom and rising entertainment industry, has emerged as a lucrative industry for luxury weddings as well. The biggest tell-tale sign? Nigeria has the world’s second fastest growing rate of champagne consumption, just behind France.
Funke Bucknor, founder of Nigeria’s leading wedding and events company, Zapphaire events said, “Our core clientèle is mainly made up of millionaires. They will not hesitate to spend the money in order to get what they want. If they need to fly in an artist from America, or a decorator from Dubai or London, they will do so.”
While traditionally Nigerian families only recognise the traditional wedding, modern couples are now increasingly opting to throw two or even three weddings, which includes a Western-style wedding and a destination wedding to nearby locations such as Dubai, Seychelles and the Maldives.
The average Nigerian wedding can easily involve more than 1,000 guests, with the numbers for bigger weddings going up to 3,000. According to event planner Elohor Aisien, food and drinks are served during the wedding from 2pm all the way to midnight.
Nigerian couples also spare no expenses in the other components of their weddings. Starting from their outfits, Nigerian brides favour Elie Saab and Vera Wang while grooms look to Tom Ford for their wedding look. Elohor had once organised a wedding for a Nigerian royalty, who was not allowed to leave the house one month prior to the wedding in accordance with traditional customs. As a result, Elohor flew into London with a model to fit her wedding dresses. Needless to say, no pennies are saved for other finer details such as flowers, tableware and decorations, as couples do not hesitate to import their desired items from overseas if they so wish to. Couples are also known to splurge on wedding favours with their guests, with one couple even going as far as to provide all their guests with their wedding attire.
The above is testament to the conspicuous spending of Nigeria’s new-rich — they are unafraid to let people know they have arrived, and would even compete among themselves to see who is able to spend more. Event decorator Weruche Majekodunmi revealed that she had organised several weddings, which had a budget of more than US$2 million over the past few years.
But such lavish spending in the country where many still live around the poverty line is not all bad, as Weruche will have you know. “The 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. Prior to these major weddings, the profession of make-up artist wasn’t even considered a full-time job.”
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