At first marriage in Africa was a simple but special event. It consisted of a meeting between the two families, friends and relatives to witness the union as well as have their own share of the dowry. But today given the rise in the standards of living and influence from external cultures, marriage has become a complex issue as everyone tries to make his or her marriage the most memorable through lavish ceremonies. Some people organise marriages in exotic destinations, at times in a ship on a sea or on an airplane and others yet have envisaged organizing their marriages in the most bizarre places like under the sea in a sub marine or why not on the moon when science will make it possible- all in an effort to impress not only the bride but also to make it the most outstanding.
Given the fact that marriage has become a very grandiose ceremony, organizing a wedding has also become more complicated, demanding special skills in specific areas such as catering, dressing the bride, entertainment and immortalizing the event either in still or motion pictures. The scale of the ceremony depends on the purse of the groom who uses it as an opportunity to demonstrate his financial power. Though marriage among the rural poor is still reduced to the barest minimum, the story is different especially among the urban middle class who either due to lack of competence or time, confide the wedding arrangements to event planners or give out certain parts of the organization to specialists.
Whereas at first dressing the bride consisted of sowing an immaculate white gown with the local tailor, today wedding gowns are either bought or rented because of their high cost. Entertainment of guests was done with local dishes and raffia or palm wine but today this aspect is usually confided to catering companies who prepare a buffet according to the number of people expected. While the event used to take place in the house of the in-laws, today it a public ceremony which takes place in a decorated renowned hotel or hall in town. The decoration of the wedding hall is done by special agencies who also take charge of dressing the seats and especially the high table where the bride and groom would be sitting, of course for a price. The flower girls role hitherto played by maids is today known as bride’s mates who have to be clad in the same attire. In the absence of bride’s mates, one can hire the services of professional hostesses.
In villages attendance is open but in towns given the high cost of cattery, invitation is limited, hence the need for security officers politely referred to as protocol, who bar the way to any crashers. Given the ephemeral nature of the event, there is usually need for immortalisation through still and motion pictures, provoking yet another need; a cameraman and a photographer. As concerns entertainment, those who can afford it hire musicians or local deejays specialized in animating marriages. The car carrying the bride and groom is usually hired and decorated for the purpose, making some people to adopt it as their line of business. Marriage has become an industry which has opened new vistas for trade opportunities and the scale keeps widening by the day, depending on developments in science and in the standard of living of the people.