Financial squeeze or not, weddings are big business

Tuesday August 22 2017


Getting married anywhere in the world is usually a costly affair, with couples willing to go the extra mile to make that particular day special.


Whether it’s a royal occasion, or a backyard soiree, “weddings”, in general, means big business in many countries. The industry itself is made up of multiple enterprises –costume designers (for bride and groom attires), decor, car hire, venue, master of ceremony (MCs), photographers, caterers (for food and drinks), Makeup artists and wedding planners.

The Business of weddings is a successful industry in Tanzania that has however not received the corresponding spotlight in business conversations.


The uniqueness of the Tanzanian wedding culture has created a lot of profitable business opportunities that continue to thrive.



Weddings in the country happen throughout the year except for religious months of Easter and Ramadan.


What makes the wedding business reliable; is that like funerals it does not stop or end with tough times, financially speaking.


Rich or poor/ rural or urban, a wedding in Tanzania means a series of celebratory ceremonies that are all significant to the marital process. These include:

●      The engagement party: This is where the couple announces their engagement, the bride is given an engagement ring and families of both parties get to know each other.

●     Dowry payment ceremony: This is often a traditional ceremony that includes the presentation of dowry or bride price to the family of the woman by the would-be bridegroom. The dowry differ from culture to culture but may include livestock, money and other treasured items. The amount of the dowry is determined through negotiations between the two families.

●      Kitchen Party: During the kitchen party, the bride's mother, aunts and other female relatives and friends organize this party to groom her into becoming a good, if not perfect wife but also gift her with home appliances hence the word “Kitchen party”.

●     Sendoff: On the sendoff, the bride’s family is solely responsible for this party where they officially celebrate seeing off their daughter in anticipation of the union with the groom.

●     Wedding: This is the actual marriage ceremony. It also takes various forms.



Some of the ceremonies have become more of a trend and not a culture anymore.

What finances these ceremonies?

A common practice in Tanzania is to fundraise or "Mchango" as it is popularly called. It is a process where family and friends contribute towards meeting the cost of the wedding. As a result, couples usually avoid the beginning of the school year to get married as many people will be less willing to contribute over school fees burden.


“Times have changed, we cannot ignore globalization's contribution in the wedding industry. Our clients are exposed and we are transitioning from having a large number of guests to exquisite small intimate weddings. This goes hand in hand with increased demand for quality and willingness to spend for such products and services." Co-founder of wedding checklist Ms Lilian Kanora says.


This raises various questions; what would one's dream wedding be? How much would you spend on it? Does true love require an expensive wedding? And if so, just how profitable is the wedding business?


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