How to make your big day special

Make up done by artist Steve Koby. PHOTO |
Make up done by artist Steve Koby. PHOTO | COURTESY 

The perfect dress for a special day

Whether in a garden setting, out on a sandy beach or in a chapel, walking down the aisle is among the point total silence is maintained as she walks in the arms of her parents towards the altar to her anxious.

From the moment she walks in, the attention of the guests will be on her as the marriage is celebrated all the way to the reception. Most will be curious to see the dress she is wearing and the accessories she uses to complement the whole outfit.

Rahab Kabiru, proprietor of Raha Divine Bridals, says that every bride deserves to feel like a princess on her wedding day and there is no better way of achieving that than finding the perfect dress.

“Understanding your body type is the first step when it comes to choosing your dress. Most brides already know what they want to wear on their big day by the time they walk into a bridal shop so my job is to help them achieve that look that they want,” she explained.

Ms Kabiru says often, the brides have seen pictures of dresses that they like on social media or the internet.
“My job is to find out where the dress is coming from, how much it would cost to get a custom-made similar design for her. The suppliers I work with allow me to take the bride’s actual measurements so the dress is designed from scratch just for her,” she says.


She imports most of the bridal gowns from the UK, Turkey and China with a bias on mid-range dresses that are both affordable and beautiful and unique with costs ranging from Sh65,000 onwards.

Some brides are not limited by budgets and opt to go for couture gowns by international designers such as Maggie Sottero, Rivini or Vera Wang.

Importing dresses can be a risky business especially if the business is purely online and not attached to any physical bridal shop. Some brides have ended up with dresses that do not look anything like the photos on the website while others have been conned altogether with rock-filled boxes.

If you are looking to import a wedding dress, you need to start the process at least three months before the D-day as delivery of gowns is mostly done by sea which might take three to five weeks.

“Over the years, I have seen brides going for more lacy dresses and the mermaid designs have also become popular. Five years ago, the back of the dress would be plain and without detail but brides are becoming more creative with bare backs and key lock designs,” she added.

Short wedding dresses are also increasingly becoming popular among free-spirited brides who do not want to feel “burdened” by the heavy Cinderella-like ballgowns.


While most brides go window shopping with their friends and family, it is always advisable not to let them push you into buying a gown that you might not like out of peer pressure.

Katrina Liyai, the proprietor of Pure Maiden who making bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses in 2014 says over the years, brides have had a growing confidence in local designers to create unique amazing gowns for them.

“They expect the same standards if not better than what they would get in the ready made market. More brides want their personality reflected in their choice of dress and their adventurous tastes spans floral appliques, blush, blue and shimmery tones,” she says.

Ms Liyai says brides who go the tailored route find importing dresses a more tedious and are very particular with what they want right to the last detail.


She gets about three orders each month some which include dresses for the bridesmaid and takes about 2-3 months to complete a bespoke gown.

“The labour charge for a bridal gown is Sh25,000 but the overall cost can go up depending on the fabric used and the design details involved,” she adds.

The location of you wedding and the actual time of the ceremony is likely to affect how your dress looks. For instance, if you have an off the back dress for the church ceremony, you can have a separate bolero piece to wear as the reception rolls into a chilly evening.

More skin

Wambui Mukenyi, who makes wedding dresses under her own label says laces, mermaid and rope waist dresses are becoming more popular with the tailors as brides opt to show off more skin.

“A custom-made dress is a much safer bet for brides - especially those keen on having unique details. I remember one bride who wanted a black wedding gown which ended up looking spectacular with the rest of the bridal team colours,” she says.

She imports most of her fabric from Hong Kong and Dubai making each gown in just under three months. Dress prices start from Sh35,000.

Sandra Chao-Blasto, [email protected]

Some popular stylists in the market

Every bride wants to stand out on her wedding day. The choice of make-up artist could very well be what boosts her confidence or dampens her mood on her big day.

Hiring a professional make-up artist definitely makes the day less stressful for the bride allowing her to get pampered, relax and focus on walking down the aisle looking resplendent. Here are some popular stylists in the market:

Steve Koby

When Steve Koby decided to do his bride’s make up on their wedding day, many were surprised. That was a first!
Steve, a top make-up artists in Kenya decided that on their big day, only he could give his bride Njanja the elegant look they both wanted.

“I opted to do my bride’s make-up because she has confidence in my work and I also did not want surprises when it comes to that part,” he said. Driven by a passion so deep, Steve started doing make-up as an amateur in late 2009 after graduating from a local beauty school.

He met Suzie Wokabi, of Suzie-beauty who trained him afresh, helping him perfect the skill and allowing him to try out tricks of the game without supervision.

Over the years, he has learnt through his interaction with clients that regardless of the make-up selected, the sole goal for every bride is to look glamorous on their wedding day.

Once in a while, he would get brides making outrageous requests including demands that they be transformed to look like pictures pulled from magazines or the internet.

“Sometimes it is impossible to achieve the desired results especially if the said clients do not take good care their skin and face,” says Steve whose wife is also a make-up artist.

Brands that stand out in his kit are MAC, Maybelline, Suzie Beauty and Nouba.

His advice to brides is that they should seek professional make-up artists to avoid embarrassing situations on their wedding day.

A professional make-up artist, he says, should have somewhere they display their work either on social media or a web page.

“For bridal make-up we do trials beforehand just so the client is completely confident in our work and to show them how they will look on their big day,” he says.

He concludes that make-up should be given the priority is deserves as there will not be a second chance for the bride to look good on their wedding day and in the photos that will live with them forever.

“Remember, the photos will be the only memory of your big day!” he says.

Make-up by Ruthie

Ruth ‘Ruthie’ Kinuthia, a professional make-up artist and make-up blogger is among the top make-up artists in Kenya.

This former Miss Kenya (2008), is the head make-up artist and founder of Make-Up By Ruthie. She has been in the beauty industry for over 8 years.

She insists on brides drinking lots of water to keep the skin hydrated, maintaining a healthy skin care routine (wash, cleanse and moisturize everyday) and booking a make-up artist early as possible.

“The good ones tend to be in high demand during the peak seasons so it’s best to get this out of the way early,” she says.

Selecting a good make-up artist should not be based on the duration one has been in the business. Talent too counts.

On the wedding day, the aisle is basically the brides’ own personal version of a red carpet. And with all eyes on her, she’ll want to ooze class and confidence, so looking and feeling fabulous is key.

Ruth says a top make-up artist should demonstrate openness and friendliness on the phone and in person. This will come in handy in keeping you calm on the wedding day.

Changing trends in the make-up industry have seen many brides opting for contouring to flatter their facial features. This includes enhancing the cheekbones, defining the nose and adding an overall defined structure using make-up.

“A number of trends are also steadily gaining popularity among the brides including bold lip colours, glamorous smoky eye look and the winged eyeliner,” says Ruth.

She divulges that some brides prefer a more classic look, making the natural look make-up a favourite as it brings out their best features in a subtle way.

The most outlandish request in her work was when during a make-up trial, a bride-to-be to be asked to have her face three or four shades lighter than her natural tone.

Among the go-to brands for Make-up by Ruthie are MAC products, Inglot cosmetics and Maybelline.

For those opting on destination weddings, it is crucial to include the travel and accommodation costs of the make-up artist in the budget.

Bridal make-up costs anywhere between Sh15,000 and Sh35,000 depending on the number of additional services requested.

As every bride is unique, make-up services required may differ from one bride to the next leading up to the wedding and even throughout the wedding day.

Muthoni Njoba

Muthoni is one of the leading make-up artists in Kenya today and most sought-after. She first knew she wanted to be a make-up artist when she was just nine. But she only got into it in December 2009.

She is now the Lead Brand Ambassador and official make-up artist of Maybelline New York Kenya.

“Bridal make-up has a special place in my heart because while I was working in an office job, I looked forward to my weekends to work on brides. It’s a real privilege to be part of such a special day in any woman’s life,’ she says.

According to Muthoni, it’s crucial to book a make-up artist early and have a make-up trial so the bride knows exactly what she will look like on the day because, after all, her face is what everyone will focus on.

The trend has shifted to natural and flawless looks to accentuate one’s natural beauty. That is not to say that brides will not opt for colours that may not be very stylish in a few years to come.

“Wedding pictures need to be timeless and you don’t need regret a colourful choice many years later. So I usually work with neutral, natural earthy tones of make-up that will stand the test of time in looking elegant and beautiful,” she advices.

When you are having your destination wedding, the couple covers all the travel and accommodation costs for the make-up artist. Ms Njoba has worked with brides in Mombasa, Naivasha, Nakuru, Elementaita, Masai Mara and Zimbabwe. For fashion shows and personal clients, I have been flown to Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Dubai, London and most recently New York,” she says.

Like Koby, she says the first thing one needs to do when seeking a make-up artist is to look for their online presence. A good make-up artist will have a well-presented website which will showcase their work and their experience.

If they cannot afford to invest in a website then they should use social media pages in the best way possible which means posting beautiful and professionally shot images.

“Set up a meeting with the make-up person so you can ask questions about the hygiene of their make-up and tools and ask about their experience and really just get to know if you will be happy with them being a part of such a special occasion. It is absolutely important to have a make-up trial where you can decide together what look is best for the day.”

Do not compromise on quality since it’s your face that gets all the attention on the day.” 

Lynet Igadwah, [email protected]