Weddings: From the Dandy 1960s to the Snazzy 2020's-Understanding the New Normal


Saturday, February 13, 2020 / 10:50AM / Chinyere Onyia/Header Image Credit:theonlychioma & EcoGraphics

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Nigerian weddings have seen a massive transformation in the last few decades turning into a multimillion-dollar business which has resulted a thriving economic sub-culture. The popularity of weddings in Nigeria has created slew of new value propositions and income streams that have supported sustainable enterprises and jobs.


The growth in wedding-related businesses has made wedding planners, cakemakers, florists, photographers, musicians, DJs, beauticians, and stylist continue to stump up decent revenues and profits. Nigerian fashion designers are also part of the wedding factory line. They continue to make stun, surprise and occasionally startle patrons with trendy wedding gowns that hug a variety body shapes and sizes.  Often the prices of these gowns vary according to budgets and preferences, while more recently the rentier gown business is coming into its own as the weak economy gnaws at the new couples disposable incomes.  


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You can download our wedding report HERE for the price range of wedding gowns.


For a typical Nigerian church wedding, wearing a lace, pearl, white and intricate design gown has become a staple.  These gowns come in different styles. Some the trendy gowns in vogue are  "A-shape", ball, mermaid, and straight gowns. Research shows that the concept of a white wedding gown which symbolizes purity originated from western culture, specifically Great Britain in 1442. Nigeria being a former colony of Great Britain adopted the culture which has survived till date.


Nevertheless, there have been debates among Nigerians about wearing the traditional western suit and white dress for church weddings. A growing number of younger people are of the opinion that Nigerians are losing their heritage to Caucasian cultures, and it was necessary that Africans. Like Indians and Chinese, restore their heritage and embrace their ethnic individuality and history.


Earlier this month there have been reactions on the internet to a Nigerian bride identified as Chioma who wore an Ankara dress for her wedding ceremony.  She was applauded by several people who saw it as a good start to regenerating the African culture, while others believed it was a matter of preference. Although Chioma was not the first person to pull such a stunt on the internet, as a man named Akai Imo trended in December 2020 for wearing a traditional Efik attire for his white wedding in Akwa Ibom, Chioma's brazen embrace of her African roots sent the internet buzzing.


In as much as going traditional in a wedding dress is a way of regenerating culture, it is also a way of rejuvenating the country's moribund textile industry.


In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was known as Africa's largest textile market. Various sources allude to the fact that the industry had more than 180 textile mills and employed over 450,000 people. The cotton, textile, and garment (CTG) subsector of the economy was then the largest employer of labour after the public sector, comprising over 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce. This industry was supported by the production of cotton by some 600,000 local farmers across the country.


Today, the CTG industry is living in the shadow of its past as virtually all the local tectile companies have shut down, terminating thousands of jobs, and requiring Nigeria to annually import US$4 billion worth of ready-made clothing and textiles. So, embracing traditional  wedding attires in Nigeria would support the resetting of the local textile business and possibly attract new investors into the sector.

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Also, the use of traditional fabrics for local weddings would be cost effective.  Being cost conscious and prudent when planning weddings is crucial for young women who fantasize about having a fairy tale wedding. Though having a fairy-tale wedding is achievable without breaking the bank or going into debt, couples need to see the forest for the trees by realizing that the wedding is an event but the marriage is a journey.


We expand on this subject of financing a wedding in the 1st Series of our personal finance report (#PFSeries1) titled "Wedding-Marriage: Between an event and a journey", where we emphasized the fact that couples need to understand that weddings are short-term events while marriages are long term journeys. Thus, striking a balance between wedding expenditure and lifetime planning from the very beginning is crucial for the marriage.  Furthermore, it is important to understand that a glamourous wedding does not imply a successful marriage.


Wearing traditional dress for your wedding is all about being practical and comfortable. When planning your wedding don't allow yourself get coaxed into spending money on frivolous things just to impress and suppress people. For example, what Chioma wore on her wedding day shows a sign of confidence. According to Chioma, "I didn't bother to tell anyone about it. It wasn't even up for debate. I just told my friends not to wear ankara. I am sure if I had mentioned it to people, they would have tried to discourage me because human preferences are different."

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Though, many people might be sceptical about wearing a traditional dress on their wedding day, the concept is becoming increasingly appealing to young folks. For example, you could decide not to have a reception after your white wedding, especially when an elaborate party has been done after the traditional wedding ceremony or you can decide to have a very small wedding with few people in attendance, which is even our reality now with the COVID-19 Pandemic. See our wedding budget in the Wedding report.


Everything has to do with your personality and what you are comfortable with and capable of bearing in terms of expenses. So do not allow anyone make you look less of a person for not throwing a big wedding, or make you look old-fashioned because you did not wear a superlative western wedding gown. Remember no wedding has won an Oscar award for being the most glamorous. When planning, have a budget that is within your financial capability, you can also start saving up early for what you desire and ensure you and your partner agree and are not influenced by third parties.




Nigeria moves to revive its textile industry by Nkechi Isaac April 9, 2019


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