A bar is yet to become a fixture in Kenyan weddings as it is in Western cultures, but there is a growing interest as more brides and grooms spend big on alcohol.
Noam Orr, the owner of Baraka Israel, a wine company in Kenya says contrary to Israel, most local couples would rather splurge on venue, decorations and the cake than on alcohol.
“They want to keep the alcohol budget low and that is a shame,” says Noam.
For those who serve alcohol, they opt for cheap wines and beers instead of signature cocktails, champagne or fine whisky that would elevate the after wedding party.
“When you spend so much money on one of the most special days of your life, you should make the whole experience amazing and alcohol and the bar service is what makes the wedding memorable because when people are drunk, people are happy, when the vibe is good, the whole experience is much better,” he adds.
Samantha’s bridal founder Catherine Masitsa agrees that the bar is an important component of a wedding.
“In the past, it was rare to get guests who lament ‘what do you mean I am coming to your wedding and you can’t even serve me wine?’ Weddings were very religious and that has changed,” she says.
Today, some Kenyans are hiring firms that provide alcohol and bar services.
“You can serve your guests signature cocktails that are just unique to your wedding. They drink a mimosa and it tastes good, when they think about it, they remember you,” says Ms Masitsa.
For instance, bartenders are taking fruits like watermelon and infusing them with alcohol and people drink from it.
According to her, the type of alcohol served matters.
“People are serving cocktails, really good wines and by the bottle, in fact these days if you serve cask wines people will be like ‘How could you?’” says Ms Masitsa.
People are also having bars and it is not cash bar.
Whisky and beer
For Mr Orr says alcohol served varies on the guests’ demographic.
“Older Kenyans tend to stick to whisky and beer. The younger guests start with the shooters, mixing the gin and tonic- the botanical gin and tonic that we do with spices and herbs, mainly sweet cocktails like cosmopolitan, sex on the beach and margarita,” he says.
“Young people also party until late so you need to have a bit of gin, a bit of rum and a bit of tequila because you want people to enjoy. You do not want to come to your best friend’s wedding and you are only served a shooter and do not get drunk,” he adds.
To throw an ultimate after wedding party, set up the bar complete with beautiful decor, good alcohol and the bartenders looking like an installation. Also, buy alcohol from legit suppliers.
“Some people can get alcohol from very shady places. The alcohol may be cheap at the end of the day but it can send your guests to the hospital and this happens a lot here,” Mr Orr says.
To avoid such mishaps, Mr Orr advises guests against mixing alcohol such as gin, vodka and rum. Stick to one kind of alcohol because you will not enjoy it more.
Mr Orr finds that Kenyan weddings are more steeped in traditions; with long church services and less time for parties unlike in Israel.
“Well, at the end everybody wants to get drunk right? I see a few Kenyans willing to put more effort on the bar and experience. You get married only once hopefully so you need to enjoy,” he says.