Thousands of guests and gatecrashers (for more than one lavish ceremony), social media hashtags and luxury mobile toilets – Nigeria’s wedding industry is booming business.
Statistically, the fastest growing industry in Nigeria, the wedding market has given rise to previously almost non-existent subsidiary industries and given rise to small practically non-existent sectors and boosted the country’s economy.
According to market research group TNS Global, the cost of an average Nigerian wedding can range from $9 460 (N$3.5 million, or R135 000) to $13 515 (N$5m, R194 000).
Folorunsho Alakija – Africa’s richest woman – splurged $6m on her son’s wedding recently.
Held at the prestigious Blenheim Palace in the United Kingdom , it is said to have featured 1 million roses arranged by celebrity florist Jeff Leatham, a 3.5m12ft-high cake and a performance by Robin Thicke at the venue which cost $43 000 (N15.7 million).
However, plenty of Nigerians get married at home. The UN estimates Africa’s most populous country at about 186 million. Most couples get married in a traditional ceremony and also have a white wedding.
The communal culture means all are welcome. Brides and grooms create hashtags and share photo shoots – revealing numerous other celebrations around the event.
CNN reports suggest the growth in the wedding market has assisted the establishment of make-up artistry as a profession.
Meanwhile, and in a country with a scarcity of public toilets, a subsidiary industry, VIP mobile toilet hire – these come with red carpets, satellite TV and air conditioning – is also growing steadily.
In July last year, WED Expo was held in Nigeria. Africa’s largest wedding festival, the expo attracts more than 10 000 visitors.
Nigerian weddings have certainly had an impact throughout the continent, with many South African weddings echoing their influence of the chic and confident ceremonies.
The Nigerian wedding trends we spotted include aso ebi-style gowns for the curvaceous bride, innovative Gele headdresses, peacock hand fans, bridesmaids in black and cigar box invitations from groomsmen.