Coronavirus is in town, and changing everything.
From fashion to families.
How is it changing weddings?
Sarah John was to marry on 25th April.
It was a Saturday, to entertain all relatives from Kogi to Kaduna—where they come from, and where they will live.
Restrictions related to coronavirus cut the guest list down to 10 at a church.
Reception was great, with family and friends.
But the wedding planner was losing.
The wedding industry never lacks, never ceases but the outbreak of coronavirus has made the industry consider its place in a time of a viral pandemic.
The first case in Nigeria came in February, and since then the numbers have been increasing.
A lockdown was imposed, and has been eased, but the impact has been unprecedented.
Sarah was hit hard, but the industry meant to usher her wedding into a happy marriage, is feeling out of place.
Before COVID-19, lots of wedding plans and arrangements were going on smoothly until the government ordered a lockdown.
A research group estimates a standard wedding in Nigeria costs between $9,460 (N3,694,130) and $13,515 (N5,277,607) with guest lists matching the super-sized budget as some weddings in the country cater to an average of 500 guests.
But in the wake of the global pandemic, many industries have been forced to their knees.
Wedding on hold
Kalim proposed to Zaynab in December, 2019 and it was just a matter of months for him to call her his wife.
Wedding plans began in earnest with every member of the family doing one thing or the other to aid the success of their children’s big day.
Their wedding which was scheduled for March 21 could not hold and all plans had to be placed on hold.
“I was so happy to be called a husband, planning to make sure our big day remains a memorable one, I wouldn’t say the lockdown has shattered my dreams, it only placed my wedding on hold for now. All the plans seem to be in vain,” says Kalim.
As for the to-be-bride, she wants the lockdown to be over so she can have the wedding of her dream.
“I have planned and fantasized about my big day, I want my loved ones, friends and family to come merry and celebrate with me, I want to create memories that will last a lifetime, hence my husband-to-be and I have decided to wait till all this is over,” says Zaynab, Kalim’s to-be-bride.
Amid strict order against hosting more than 20 people in a gathering, Johnson married the love of his life, Esther Abayomi on March 21.
“We’ve made our plans already and we could not stop it, so we got married but we spent a lot of resources,” says Johnson.
Vendors, photographers, printers lament
Food is one of the essentials of a wedding party that is not taken for granted.
An Ibadan-based caterer, Faith Imosemi, the CEO of Gwenny cakes and events revealed that the lockdown has affected her business “negatively”.
“Most of the jobs I got before the lockdown were affected, and the orders cancelled – birthday cakes, wedding and all activities.
“This is because, everyone is scared.
“The fact that I have already stocked up ingredients and materials in the house, I cannot consume everything personally, and I hope it doesn’t get spoilt or expire, because it’s a great loss on my part.
“Some still manage to order cake, but food generally is no-go area because everyone is scared, even eateries are affected.”
“Beyond cancellation of weddings, the current reality of the pandemic is not favourable for businesses generally.
Printing is also hard hit. The weddings need invitation cards.
While caterers and bakers were getting cancelled, so too were printers.
“Clients couldn’t proceed with payment of orders as well as souvenirs planned ahead for their event.
“This no doubt has greatly affected our business as we had to hold back on a lot of planned deliverables while we couldn’t return materials purchased to service client,” says Ahmed Abdullahi the founder of Atewe, a printing firm in Ilorin.
“Covid-19 has affected every sphere of the economy, everyone is working hard to make ends. And when there’s no party, there will be no need for ushers. So, I’m at home doing nothing,” says Aishah Abdulsalam, a Lagos based usher.
There’s the music to everything
Music of course is the vibe of every party.
When Daily Trust visited Gospel Music Band’s shop, his equipment and instrumentals were dusty.
The read: no show in a long while.
“I lost five big shows as a result of this lockdown and the social gathering order. Some of these folks paid in advance but when the lockdown order was implemented, they requested for a refund, and I’m left with nothing,” says an Abuja based DJ and live band instrumentalist.
Creating memories that last a lifetime in every wedding is key.
Photography does it. Photographs are taken to keep record of events. An Abuja based photographer Emmanuel Chukwu, is seeing tough times
“Before now, there’s an event almost every week and people book ahead of time but now, no one is booking because of the order on social gathering. I was supposed to cover two weddings before now, but it did not work,” he says.
“If the groom, bride, two witnesses and a pastor invite me to cover their wedding in the church this time, how much will I make?
“So, it’s better to stay in my shop than go attend an event with a large gathering before police will come and arrest me.”
Hike in prices: the new reality
But nothing controls the price.
“After the pandemic is long gone and forgotten, there will be a crazy hike in prices of goods in the market.
“As the existing goods in the market might not be enough to cater to the needs of everyone, and that will be the reality we will have to live with,” says Faith Imosemi.
Ahmed Abdullahi, the founder of Atewe also shared a similar thought.
“There is every tendency of a hike in prices of printing materials after this lockdown.
“This can be attuned to the reduction in accessing materials as suppliers couldn’t move in these items as a result of ban on interstate but until after the whole pandemic.
“We can’t keep envisaging increment without having adequate economic projections from experts but there are indication of hike in prices of items.”