Nigeria: My Big, Phat Nigerian Wedding

A bourgeoning middle class in Africa has increasing financial resources and increasing levels of disposable income.


The African Development Bank (AfDB) says the sub-Saharan Africa’s middle class has grown from approximately 26% of the population three decades ago, to about 34% currently, and “by 2020, Africa’s middle class is expected to spend more than US$2.2 trillion per year, representing about 3% of aggregate global consumption.”


This rise in consumption is clearly seen in Nigeria in the wedding industry.  The country has a booming wedding industry and the trend is driven by the desire for extravagant themed ceremonies.  Weddings in Nigeria are huge affairs, sometimes with 2,000 guests.  The typical Nigerian wedding has evolved in recent years into a high-concept “production.”


The trend has been driven by the many young Nigerians living overseas, who introduce ambitious ideas for wedding themes, along with the concept of the wedding planner: a professional event organizer who could realize the happy couple’s vision for their big day, typically at their parents’ expense.


There are two parts to a Nigerian wedding. The first ceremony was the “traditional wedding,” sometimes also referred to as the engagement. This was typically attended by fewer guests — only family and close friends — and may be held in area that one of the couple originally hailed from.


The couple would wear traditional dress, with the bride usually wearing a traditional fabric gifted to her by her new parents-in-law, sometimes sewn into a modern Afrocentric design.


The second, “white wedding” — with a guest list at the reception potentially running into the thousands — could follow days or even months later. For this, the bride would wear a white bridal gown and the bridal party formal attire. The most popular time of year for weddings is in December, when expatriate Nigerians return from abroad and can face a schedule of weddings seven days a week.


Who knows what are the other impacts this consumerism could have on the continent?


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