Everyone loves a wedding but beyond the cake-cutting and the bouquets is the breakdown of the budget.

It is the most unglamorous part as the couple has to be keen on the costs, come up with a realistic budget and stick to it, so that they have to neither borrow nor break their bank.

Weddings are a major part of Kenyan society, with the sector generating revenue in excess of KSh30 billion every year, according to statistics from Samantha Bridal, one of the well-known wedding planning companies in Kenya.

Half of this amount, the report says, is spent on the day of the wedding, with the cost of a conservative wedding coming to about KSh500,000 and the more extravagant ones coming to even KSh43 million, with the cost of the honeymoon included.

Weddings have been among the areas hit by the shutdowns and the slowdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing people to be creative about their celebrations.

Couples who would have preferred big celebrations now have to make do with intimate ceremonies with just a few family and friends, with those who cannot attend following events via livestream or online video conferencing platforms.

In the process, they end up saving money.

Unfortunately, this has dealt a huge blow to events planning businesses as scores of Kenyans postpone their weddings indefinitely or cut down the size of their events, curtailing big spending.

At his wedding two weeks ago, Gatonye Miring’u’s entire wedding party consisted of 15 people.

Still, it was the wedding of their dreams as about 1,000 people followed the event on YouTube.

“We did not incur charges for a Master of Ceremony (MC), catering, transport, venue, band, tents, chairs, tables and cake. We also did not have a bridal party,” says Gatonye.

Their total wedding budget came to about KSh160,000.

They paid Ksh10, 000 for the church, KSh30,000 for decor, KSh80,000 for photography and videography and KSh40,000 for the reception and lunch for guests.

Theirs was a typical wedding in the time of Covid-19 but still, a wedding is one of the most important parties a couple can ever have, but it also might be the most expensive

Couples who want to wait out the pandemic to get married and not limit their guest list can still have an unforgettable experience by cutting down on wedding expenses.

Cost cutting tips

To avoid falling into a financial debt trap, Diana Mahemba and Kenneth Okwaroh, who got married last year, share some cost cutting tips that will enable the bride and groom to save money.

The couple says they created a budget depending on the amount they were willing to spend on the entire ceremony. At the beginning of 2019 they set aside one account and saved for a year. Their guest list only had 150 people.

“Having the entire village come to the wedding is not wrong. If you can, by all means do so. However, in inviting everyone you also have to consider transport costs, accommodation, food for the day before and after and many other auxiliary costs,” says Diana.

For a more practical approach, it is prudent for one to anticipate extra costs especially on a category like the guest list.

For John, who saved up for his wedding and footed the entire cost, the biggest expense was food, for which they paid about KSh200,000.

“We realized we were likely to have more than 500 guests and planned for slightly more. The caterer eventually served 750 people. People always appreciate having a good meal when they attend a wedding celebration and we decided early on everyone, including the couple and their entourage, would have the same food,” he says.

To further trim the budget, here are more cost cutting tips:

  • Ask for help from your friends; use your friends’ cars for transport. Family members from up country can be housed in other relatives’ houses.
  • Have one venue that can cater for everything; the photoshoot and reception.
  • Consider using e-invites rather than printed cards.
  • Buy fabric on your own. Go to the wholesale markets if you must (Remember to negotiate).
  • Do not be afraid to ask for discounts.
  • Consider having your honeymoon months after the wedding ceremony: it is not cast in stone that the honeymoon has to be immediately after wedding. You can give yourselves months to save again and have the honeymoon of your dreams.
  • Take your time visiting, sourcing, talking to and even meeting different vendors. Some decisions are better made when you have an array of options.
  • Plan early.