Have in mind any particular wedding business ideas for Africa? You’ll learn lots of great stuff from this article.
It is estimated that more than 5 million weddings take place in Africa’s cities and towns every year.
Weddings are a very big deal in several African societies and remain the single most cost-intensive event for many families.
Depending on the country and location, the average wedding budget in many cities on the continent could be anywhere between $4,500 and $40,000 and most families and young people save up (and often borrow) for the big event.
It is also estimated that Africans spend millions of dollars every year on wedding-related products and services.
This includes money spent on items and activities leading up to the wedding day, and thereafter (like honeymoon services). There are loads of interesting opportunities for smart and creative entrepreneurs in this lucrative market.
Let’s explore them and find one you can make a profitable business out of…
Why is the African wedding market so huge and rapidly expanding?
Besides the Indians and Chinese, Africans are probably the biggest wedding spenders in the world.
Before we look at the size and growth prospects of this market, we’ll need a little bit of background to understand the motivations behind Africa’s big-spending habit when it comes to weddings.
Weddings in Africa are deeply rooted in, and strongly influenced by, age-long cultural, social and religious values that make it a very serious ritual for many people on the continent.
Pride and egos are often at stake as families and peers try to show off and outdo themselves while they celebrate this most significant milestone of their lives.
A lot of time, effort and money is invested by brides, grooms and their families to deliver a very colourful and elaborate event. To pull this off, many young people save a significant portion of their income (and often take out a loan) to take care of what can sometimes become a social burden. (photo credit: nigerianwedding.org)
Nigeria is a good example of how much Africans are spending on the big occasion. Celebrations like weddings, where huge volumes of champagne are consumed, have contributed to, and helped expand the champagne market in Nigeria. The country has become one of the world’s largest consumers of champagne.
In 2011, Nigeria consumed more than US$40 million worth of champagne to become the second largest consumer of the product in the world ahead of rapid growth and established markets like Brazil, China, USA and Australia. The country’s champagne consumption is projected to exceed $100 million by 2017. (source: Euromonitor.com).
Now that we know why many Africans are willing to go to great lengths to spend a lot of money on weddings, let’s look at the other drivers of the huge demand for wedding-related goods and services in Africa…
A large, young, trendy and marriage-conscious population
Africa’s current population of one billion is predicted to more than double to 2.3 million in less than 40 years.
Apart from having the world’s fastest growing population, the continent also has the world’s youngest population – more than 50 percent of its one billion people are under 20 years old, compared with only 28 percent in China.
Most of these young people are very aware of, and strongly influenced by, the latest fashions in clothes, music, dance, drinks and style.
Many of them are educated, exposed, working class and single professionals who make up Africa’s rapidly expanding middle class. Their numbers are expected to reach 1.1 million by 2050 and many of them will want a wedding that shows good taste. (photo credit: nsw.gov.au)
Because African culture is very family-oriented, it’s not unusual for young people (especially women) to come under pressure from family and peers to get married.
There remains a strong social and cultural bias in Africa for people to achieve marital status and this is a strong driver for the booming wedding market in Africa.
Rapid economic development and urbanization
According to the Economist, six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies of the past decade are in Sub-Saharan Africa. And statistics show that people are willing to spend big on weddings during times of economic prosperity.
With economic prosperity often comes rapid urbanization as more people migrate from the rural areas to seek job opportunities and better lives in the cities.
City people are more likely to have big-budget weddings than rural people.
With its current rate of urbanization at 38 percent, Africa is now more urbanized than India (30 percent) and nearly as urbanized as China (45 percent).
Currently, 52 African cities have a population of more than one million people. By 2016, the number of cities with more than one million people in Africa will reach 65. This outcome will definitely lead to an increase in the number of weddings on the continent.
Rising levels of disposable income
As many of Africa’s economies continue to prosper and more people find better work in the cities, they are likely to earn more money with a little extra to spend. These young wage earners are the ones who continue to save and keep money aside as they plan for weddings.
How African entrepreneurs can make money from the huge wedding market
In this section, we shall explore the opportunities in Africa’s wedding market and how entrepreneurs can start a business that makes money in this promising market. As you will soon find out, weddings provide a vast array of opportunities for both small and big businesses, no matter the amount of startup capital you have.
1. Wedding gowns and dresses
Every woman wants to look fabulous on her wedding day, that’s why the global wedding gown industry is worth up to $10 billion every year.
Wedding gowns can sell from $150 (for mass-produced gowns) up to $10,000 (for designer gowns). This price range provides a lot of room for both couples on a tight budget and couples who plan to have a lavish wedding.
Factories in China are responsible for a huge chunk of cheap, mass-produced and generic wedding gowns on the market while couture gowns come from high-street fashion shops in the USA and Europe.
Entrepreneurs who are interested in the wedding gown business could offer a full-service bridal shop (with all bridal accessories) or choose to specialize in certain kinds of gowns (such as designer, custom-designed, consignment or used gowns).
Renting wedding gowns is gradually becoming a popular concept for low-budget weddings in Africa. (photo credit: brideofcolour.co.uk)
Used wedding gowns are also becoming very popular as many brides realize they can make money back from these gowns which they wore only once!
One interesting startup in this niche is Weddingdress.ng, a platform that allows new brides and brides-to-be to exchange, sell and hire wedding gowns.
A smart entrepreneur could buy back used gowns from already married couples at bargain discount prices and either sell or rent out to new brides. However, There are a couple of very important points you need to consider before you start a wedding gown/dress sale or hire business.
These points are discussed later in this article…
2. Venues & Event centres
On the average, about 30 percent of wedding budgets are spent on the reception or wedding venue. This often makes it the most expensive part of nearly all weddings.
Couples look for venues with adequate seating capacity for their guests, enough room for parking, security and a location in a very accessible part of town.
Other features that make a venue more attractive are beautiful landscapes and surroundings (that will be great for photographs), toilet facilities, air-conditioning and good sound systems.
Typically, most wedding venues are open air spaces, hotel conference rooms, government buildings or purpose-built and dedicated event centres for weddings and other celebrations. (photo credit: rdeventsng.com)
In Lagos (Nigeria) for example, depending on its location, size and features, wedding venues can go for anything from $1,000 up to $20,000 per day!
Although wedding venues may require significant capital to build and ready the facility, they can be very lucrative ventures if they are set up in the right location in a densely populated part of the city.
Because most couples typically pay for the venue well in advance to reserve their preferred dates, this business can be a significant source of revenue for its owners. Entrepreneurs can also use wedding venues to cross sell other wedding services to clients.
Most of the other ideas discussed below (such as catering, cakes, wedding cards etc.) can be sold to clients as part of a full-service package with the venue.
3. Furniture and equipment rental services
All wedding venues will require chairs, tables, glass plates, cutlery, backdrops, table and chair covers, tents, portable toilets, power generators and sound equipment. Some smart entrepreneurs run rental businesses that provide all these items and much more.
Depending on the wedding venue, rental companies charge for delivery, room set-up and pick-up the following day.
Some rental businesses also provide refrigerated trucks that store and chill all the drinks to be used during the wedding event. Often times, wedding event centers (discussed above) provide equipment rental services as an add-on. Furniture items can be charged on a per-item basis or a flat daily fee.
A rentals business requires some startup capital to buy chairs, tables, tents and all the other items that are needed for weddings. You would also need to have (or hire) a large truck to carry these items to and from the venues.
Labour is also required to load and unload the trucks, set up tents and arrange furniture at the venue. You could visit existing rental companies in your area to get information about the rental rates and how much you can charge.
4. Wedding invitation cards
Invitation cards usually create the first impression of a wedding. It usually indicates the theme and overall feel of the celebration.
Couples around the world spend up to $2 billion every year on wedding stationery like invitation cards, wedding programs and thank-you cards.
There are lots of possibilities for creative entrepreneurs in this space.
If you are artistic or have a flair for print design, this will be a great business for you. If you lack printing and design software abilities, you could use a professional designer to create templates that your clients can choose from.
Anyone who wishes to excel in this business must also have a reliable, experienced and professional printer who produces very high quality print.
5. Wedding Consultancy (Planners and Managers)
The demand for professional wedding consultants (or wedding planners) has grown rapidly over the last couple of years creating a lot of lucrative opportunities for smart entrepreneurs to start a small or home-based business.
One reason for this growing demand is that couples are too busy with their day jobs and personal lives and do not have the time to properly plan and organize the kind of wedding they really want.
Another reason is that more people are beginning to appreciate the value of using the services of a professional and experienced wedding planner.
The beautiful thing about the wedding consulting business is that it’s very flexible, requires little or no capital and can be run from your home.
However, because of the kind of people and situations you’ll be dealing with, wedding consultants must be able to work under pressure, be very detailed and organized, know how to work with budgets and be in tune with the latest wedding trends.
Above all, wedding planners need to be social and should be comfortable working with different groups of people – brides (and their parents), suppliers, vendors etc.
Wedding consultants typically charge clients a flat fee (or by the hour) for their services. However, it’s not uncommon nowadays for some consultants to charge a percentage of the overall wedding cost. The fees for planning and preparation are usually lower than a full production service (which includes everything from early planning and budgeting to coordinating activities on the wedding day).
Note: It’s always a good idea to provide a written contract that spells out your responsibilities and payment terms. Disputes often arise in this business and it’s important to cover your back with a written contract should a disagreement arise. A
couple of success tips are provided much later in this article. Keep reading…
6. Wedding magazines and blogs
Weddings are usually a very hot topic especially among young unmarried women. This customer segment is always interested in the latest trends in wedding gown/dress fashion, wedding themes, rings, cake designs, flowers and many other things.
Above all, brides-to-be always need all the help and information they can get to make their dream wedding a huge success.
Publishing a wedding blog is usually easy and cheaper to start than publishing a magazine. We advise that you start out with a blog first before you consider print media like magazines.
Most blogs are free to set up and you can get started with your blog in less than 30 minutes. Our article on blogging and the Zero to Pro tutorial will give you all the information you need to start off an impressive blog.
Entrepreneurs who are interested in this business idea can get inspired by, and learn a lot from, already successful wedding blogs and online discussion forums like The Knot , Style Me Pretty and Wedding Bee.
These websites provide lots of useful info on the latest wedding trends, styles and fashions. (photo credit: weddingplannerworld.com)
7. Cakes & Catering Services
Cutting the wedding cake in front of friends and family is one of the main highlights of the wedding day.
Cakes are usually central to the theme of most weddings and most couples like to take the time to choose special and unique designs, flavours and colours for their wedding cake.
There are different types of cakes for couples to choose from depending on their preferences and budget.
Traditional wedding cakes have several tiers (or layers) and usually feature creative decorations and designs. If you have a flair for baking and the creativity to design eye-catching and tasty wedding cakes, starting a wedding cake business might just be the right idea.
In addition to the wedding cake, food and drinks served to guests usually takes up a huge chunk of the wedding budget.
Because food taste and quality of service are becoming serious issues to consider, more couples prefer to have professional caterers prepare and serve the food during the wedding event.
Catering for wedding events has become quite popular due to the wide range of menu options that are possible. Most menus now include small chops, hors d’oeuvres, cocktail receptions, multiple courses and dessert.
Starting a wedding cake and catering service business is a great idea for entrepreneurs who are well-organised, hardworking, creative and able to accommodate and adapt to changing customer needs and demands. It’s a business that can be done part-time while you gain experience, build a client base and buy equipment. (photo credit: spreadmediang.com)
8. Photo & Video services
Wedding couples consider photographers and videographers as some of the most important people at the event.
Since they capture and document the day’s special moments, many couples now consider this a very essential service and are willing to pay a good sum to get very professional photo shots and videos of the wedding event.
Wedding photographers and video cameramen are usually hired to cover the traditional wedding, engagement and the main white wedding. These guys are likely to charge on a per-hour or full day basis and the final output commonly has bridal portraits, a full wedding album and video. (photo credit: darephotography.co.uk)
As you would expect, the wedding photography and videography business requires entrepreneurs to invest time, money and effort to build the skills that are needed to become a professional in this business.
If you have a flair or passion for still and moving pictures and know how to use a camera, this will indeed be a great business idea for you. Most wedding photographers earn between $700 to $3,000 per event (depending on the location).
If you’re new to the whole photography thing and would like to learn, you should check out this detailed Beginners’ Guide to Photography on Udemy and the Digital Photography School. Both resources contain lots of great tutorials that should guide you from novice to expert.
9. Bridal hair & make-up artistry
Hair and makeup are probably the next most important thing to a bride after the wedding dress.
In our Beauty salon and Barbershop business idea article, we covered the essential services of a beauty salon and success factors.
We have included a short bridal makeup video below to arouse your interest and help you find out if this is a business idea that interests you.
10. Master of Ceremonies
The Master of Ceremonies (MC or Emcee) is the host of the wedding and should make sure everyone is having a good time. More often than not, the success of the wedding depends a lot on the quality of the MC.
A good wedding MC is more than someone who is good at public speaking or can tell a few jokes.
A professional MC makes sure the wedding reception runs smoothly by coordinating everyone including guests, the catering staff, the photographer and video camera-person, plus the DJ, band and entertainers.
To sum it up, successful MCs are confident and very organized people who are good at public speaking and can apply humour in the right and appropriate doses.
Even if you cannot become an MC yourself, you could start an agency business that connects wedding couples to MCs of their choice.
Instant MC.com is an Australian-based agency that provides MCs to wedding couples. You can choose from a wide range of budget to celebrity MCs for wedding events.
This would be a great business idea in many African cities where it can be very difficult to get quality MCs. In many African cities, people apparently have very few choices when it comes to getting the kind of MCs they desire. Most couples have to depend on family and friends or low-quality MCs.
11. Other ideas
As we mentioned earlier in this article, the wedding industry overflows with opportunities that can be exploited by smart entrepreneurs. We have only just explored the common ideas around weddings.
Other opportunities in this market include: Florists (flower suppliers), Chauffeur services (who drive the couple for the day), DJs (music, another critical element of every wedding event) and Honeymoon planning and travel services.
The very next time you attend a wedding event, try to get into an entrepreneur’s state of mind and you’ll see all the interesting opportunities to make money from a wedding business.
Couples desperately need help to successfully put a wedding together and are usually very happy to pay any person or business who can help make this process a whole lot easier.
Some things you should consider before starting a wedding-related business.
#1 – Size up your competition
While smart entrepreneurs can make a lot of good money from most of the opportunities in the wedding business, it is important that you understand that this market is also very competitive.
Quite a number of big names and brands dominate sections of this market (like wedding dresses, magazines, blogs and accessories).
Entrepreneurs who intend to start a wedding-based business must research their target market and identify any established or potential competitors, their specialty (what they do best), and how well (or not) they are serving the market.
With this knowledge, the smart entrepreneur devises a plan to set himself/herself apart from the competition by doing things a little differently. You could focus on selling tailor-made wedding gowns or specially-designed cakes if your research reveals that the competition is made up of low-cost or budget-type suppliers.
However, you also need to confirm that your target customers can afford your services.
#2 – Location is more important than you think!
Your business needs to be within the reach of the kind of people who will become customers.
Your location also determines what type of products to sell (low-cost versus luxury). It’s usually better to have a presence around hair/beauty salons and other similar places where potential customers are bound to visit.
Advertising in popular local wedding magazines will also be a good idea since many wedding-ready couple read them.
With the growing presence of the internet, physical location matter less nowadays. Most young African couples now get on the internet to find information and find professional help for wedding events.
Starting a blog with very useful and interesting articles around topics like wedding dresses, cakes, planning etc will easily get you noticed. If starting a blog is something you’d like to consider, our article on blogging and the Zero to Pro tutorial should get you started.
#3 – Customer service and awareness of wedding trends is key…
Customer service is very essential because you will be dealing with couples who are stressed and under pressure, especially brides-to-be. It is important that you (or your staff attending to them) are very patient, helpful and supportive.
The entrepreneurs who are successful in this space will tell you that brides are the toughest and most difficult customers to please.
It’s important that you hold your nerve and focus on satisfying these difficult customers if you want them to recommend you to their friends, colleagues and family (future customers).
Because these couples will be looking up to your advice and suggestions, it is important that you are always aware of the most recent trends, styles, fashion and themes on the international wedding scene.
What are your wedding business ideas for Africa?
The wedding market in Africa is booming and is bound to remain so in the future.
With some creativity and determination, smart entrepreneurs can carve out and dominate lucrative niches in this market. As we said earlier, there are enough opportunities in Africa’s wedding market for everyone, no matter your experience or capital.
If you found a wedding business that works for you, start working on a business plan and take action as soon as possible. You could also choose from many more amazing business ideas in the Business ideas section of this website.
We would love to hear from you about your successes, challenges, advice and questions. Do not forget to leave a comment in the section below and share this opportunity with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons below.
To your success!