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If you have planned any kind of party, be it a birthday party or family dinner, you have felt the pressure of ensuring goes according to plan. And you have surely been overwhelmed by the amount of work that you initially assumed would be minimal.
But that was just a family dinner where you simply had to prepare a meal, drinks, and just a single table- or two for that matter. Now imagine a full-blown wedding or kwanjula where you are hosting hundreds of people. And even if it were 20 people (as is the current case due to COVID 19 SOPs) you would have to find the venue, decorator, cars, caterer, PA system, photographers, and so on goes the endless list.
If you planning a wedding or introduction, you will surely find so much value in this article where some of Uganda’s leading wedding planners give tips and current trends in the industry.
Kweronda Ambroze, Parties & Events;
As wedding planners and decorators, we have worked with a number of clients during this pandemic. Some have kept postponing their functions whereas others just went ahead, stuck to their dates, and had their functions. From experience, I wouldn’t advise someone to postpone their ceremony because experience has taught us that the end of COVID19- especially in Uganda – is nowhere soon. Since the beginning of this pandemic, thousands of couples have gone ahead and tied the knot with the support of their friends and family. So go ahead and get married. There’s no better time for love than now.
Another reason to have your wedding now is that you can have a beautiful wedding on a much smaller budget. That is because service providers haven’t been working for a while and are eager to cash in. But also, because you will be hosting a few guests (20 according to SOPs), you won’t be spending much on food, drinks, and decoration. This means you can have a much more intimate and posh function without breaking the bank.
The other tip is to carefully research your venue options. Be sure to investigate prices, packages, and any restrictions (including minimum budget spend or guest count) from several different potential wedding and reception venues before you sign on the dotted line. Even if there’s a venue and a package price that you really like, still, keep looking at additional opinions. Ask around and see what other venues are charging before agreeing on a price. Alternatively, look at unconventional venue options like your backyard or a relative’s. If you don’t have one you can contact us to help you with residential venues. They are cheaper and provide accommodation: an option to consider since some guests may have to sleepover.
Farouq Skillz, Skillz Ent & Function Managers;
“Many clients think that a family member can fulfill the role of an event planner. A family planner may truly have your best interests at heart but because they are not vastly experienced in the industry, they will get you service providers whom they know – and trust me, they know few compared to a professional wedding planner. And they have not seen many of these service providers work on many functions. So they cant gauge their reliability. In the long run, those service providers may end up disappointing you.
Secondly, as an event planner, I have to ensure that my clients get the best so they can refer me for more business. So I am in this for the long run since this is my daily ob. On the other hand, your family member does not see it from that perspective. This is a one-off to them.
Thirdly is transparency and expertise. Having planned so many functions, I have learned from my mistakes and thus perfected my craft over time. Prior to the function, I visit the site and ensure decorators and other service providers are prepared as planned. For example, I have to ensure the tent is facing the right direction in relation to the sun. You don’t want to have in-laws and other guests get scorched by the sun.
Most people have been discouraged by the current COVID 19 pandemic which currently restricts weddings to only 20 people. I encourage couples to go ahead and have their functions because, with smaller numbers, the vendors are able to put more effort into perfection. The decorator will ensure a small wedding looks very beautiful.”
Farouq assures couples intending to get married that a function of 20 people can still turn out fun and more exquisite than that of hundreds of guests. He advises clients to accept that the current pandemic situation is the new normal and it may last a bit longer than expected. He adds that if couples plan a small function with a positive mindset, they’ll surely enjoy their function.
Nanteza Jackie: CEO, Stress Free & Serene Events
“Your ideal function may require a budget of 100 million shillings yet you have 30m. It is the role of the planner to show you the reality of what your budget can achieve since they do this on a daily basis. They are thus able to take you back on the drawing board and together come up with a feasible budget and plan. Because of a planner’s wide network of various service providers, they can be able to find you service providers who can achieve your dream concept within your budget and without adulterating your dream concept. They know which decorators can achieve the same result at half a budget.
It can be exhausting having to sieve through hundreds of service providers. With an idea of your budget and your concept, a planner will filter through hundreds and funnel down to a handful of service providers that fit within your budget and are able to achieve your concept. And they’ll do this without you adding your energy and precious time. Definitely, a good planner always has some discounts or offers from vendors and they would happily offer them to their clients.
Many people who don’t understand the dynamics of planning an event think hiring a planner is extravagance but it is actually stressful. Imagine how organizing a small home dinner can be stressful. Then what about a big function? As a planner, you are the shock absorber. You get “punched” by the client as well as the service providers. Also, a good planner should be a database: able to get you anything almost instantly. With an event planner, you can organize an event in the comfort of your house.
When any issues arise, it shouldn’t be the bride or groom to sort it but rather a wedding planner. They should absorb and protect their clients from any disturbances. So event planning goes much deeper than just coordinating an event on the wedding day: which is what most people assume is a wedding planner’s role.
Another cool trend is wedding websites. You can use your wedding website for a lot of things including RSVP, sharing information, fundraising, and even viewing photos that your guests captured on your wedding day.
One of the biggest challenges of couples planning a ceremony today is the guest list. In Uganda, one is raised by various aunties and uncles and with a limit of 20 people, many people are stressed with whom to invite and whom to leave out but we have successfully helped our clients with this dilemma.”
Nanteza advises couples to embrace the digital norm of live-streaming their functions for people who may not have been able to attend. She adds; “Small events are good because clients are able to have a fantastic event with a limited budget. That is because things like food and decoration which make up the biggest portion of the budget are itemized. So the lesser the number of guests, the lesser will be the budget. Small numbers lead to a more intimate cozy wedding or introduction.”
Ssendaire Joseph aka Mzee Bakidawo, CEO Jovie Sounds & Promotions;
“Most people are complaining that we make functions extravagant and discourage others from marrying but they do not realize that people have different financial statuses. Most of the items we use like certificates, Kabaka and Nabagereka’s portraits contribute to the financing our Buganda kingdom. Others are complaining that we have adulterated the Buganda culture and diverted from the cultural norms of these functions.”
Bakidawo says that one of the biggest challenges is clients hire MCs (katumwa) who may not be grounded in Buganda’s cultural norms and they end messing up the kwanjula. He advises his clients to first consult him since he has a well trained team that he works with.