Millenials Ditch Traditional Wedding

wedding setup
Wedding setup. PHOTO | COURTESY  

Tamima Ibrahim plans to curate her wedding online long before she walks into an actual shop.

She has no intentions of splurging for the sake of it. She wants things at her wedding to have history, heritage and meaning.

“Like other millenials, I am not willing to buy into an idea because it is expensive, but because it gives you value. I would like to buy something that has a backstory not just go for those well known brands that are expensive with no back story,” she explains.

Pinterest has become the shopping platform for ideas and creation of wedding boards that dictate the themes, outfits, decor and even wedding favours--small gifts given to guests at the wedding.

For the generation that came to age around both the Internet revolution and the turn of the new millennium, the millennials have charted their own paths in almost every aspect of life.


Millennials are getting married later in life (the average age is now 33), as they are prioritising education, careers, and even travel. This broadening of horizons means that people are moving more and meeting new people, so it should come as no surprise that 58 percent of couples marry outside of their race, religion, ethnic, or regional background.

The fact that they are getting married in fewer numbers and later in life than previous generations is a clear indication that millennials hold different views about the institution than their parents, which leads to different expectations for the registry, honeymoon and wedding day.

Catherine Masitsa, chief executive officer and founder of Samantha Bridal, says that wedding entrepreneurs are now focusing on the millennials as a new market segment for growth since the traditional market is ageing.

“Their generational characteristics and consumption behaviour makes them an important market to the luxury segment. They are highly tech-savvy, well-educated and accustomed to being bombarded by media messages,” she says.

Masitsa says that the millennials have grown up in an affluent society and have bigger spending power than their parents did, which in turn offers bridal marketers with an opportunity to reach a larger audience than in the past and also an increase in market share.

While the older generation is all about collecting trophies and storing things owing to their sentimental values, the millennials hold a completely different view.

“In the last 10 years, luxury rental companies such as Rent the Runway and Bag, Borrow, or Steal have been cropping up on the internet- disrupting the luxury goods business by allowing consumers to rent luxury items temporarily instead of purchasing them,“ notes Masitsa.

The concept of renting is limitless with many even renting dresses. While this is a fairly new concept in Kenya, Ogake Mosomi, a fashion designer who has made a name for herself in the high-end bridal market, says that it is becoming a more palatable option among millennials.

“Hiring dresses is not huge in Kenya as it is in Uganda and Rwanda, but we are getting more inquiries on that,” she says.

Mosomi says that brides are also steering away from more traditional wedding dresses with a majority opting to spend less on the dresses.

“It is not like they do not have the money for it, they just prefer to spend the money on other things that will last longer like the wedding bands and the honeymoon,” she says.

She says that there are, however, others who are extreme and are willing to spend top dollar on the gowns, adding that the locations also play a big role on the type of dresses millennials opt for.

“Destination weddings are a big thing now and couples like the idea of having a more intimate ceremony out of the country, which dictates the type of dress the bride would like to wear,” she says.

Cate Nganga, a wedding planner, says that most of her clients are now steering away from the traditional wedding. The main reason for this, she explains, is that many couples are getting married later on in life and are able to contribute more to their weddings financially.

This means they often have more control over the format that their wedding takes.

"Ten years ago brides and grooms were relying on their parents to solely fund weddings. Now people are empowered by doing what they want to do and they want it to be a reflection of who they are,” says Nganga.

It is for this reason that Masitsa says millennial couples opt for destination weddings.

“Millennials want exclusive access to people, places, and things they would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience. I know of a couple that did a small intimate wedding in Paris, France, because they wanted to soak in the experience and make their wedding more than a simple event,” she says.

Millennials are the most tech savvy generation currently and they want Pinterest worth wedding albums that can trend on social media platforms.

To ensure an Instagram-worthy wedding, millennials have placed a large importance on the location of the venue - with location the most important factor apart from price.

Masitsa says that millennials are also tilting towards the luxury brands and they are willing to spend so long as they get value, authenticity and access. While 77 percent of millennials prefer a pared down lifestyle with fewer possessions, they are still choosing to spend their money somewhere, she adds.

“In today’s market, millennials’ penchant for discovering new brands, high quality good and a company’s heritage make them natural luxury consumer as they seek value and authenticity,” says Masitsa.

They are splurging on videographers, to ensure that there is not a single moment of their weddings that goes unrecorded with many opting for wedding videos that play like a highlights reel.

Kevine Omari, creative director at Thoroughbred Films, says that hashtags have become an awesome way to find and share wedding photos, from the bridal shower to the honeymoon.

“Couples are going live on their weddings and use creative hashtags to keep guests and everyone online abreast of whatever is going on in the moments leading up to the event,” says Omari.

He adds that millennial couples spend a lot of time shooting, editing, or planning Instagram posts. And even more time is spent on editing the photo to make it social media-ready.

“We have so much technology go into making the memories last a lifetime. We use drones and cover the event

Nganga says that technology has also changed the way guests are invited to millennial weddings, with just half of brides still using physical save-the-dates - and the rest relying on virtual invites.

“I have seen less and less couples going for the paper invites. Millennial couples have people registering for their weddings through creative ways,” she says.

A rather novel concept among millennials is that many brides are opting to write their own wedding vows with their partners, instead of or in addition to going ahead with the conventional tradition of mantras while taking the pre written vows.

“This is also a beautiful way to make promises to each other that are meaningful and truly reflect their values as a couple,” says Nganga.