A wedding venue determines the beauty and aura a wedding exudes and is thereby a factor to consider, writes MANUEL KITHEKA
Long gone are the days when weddings were a low-keyed, casual and drab affair. Back then it didn’t matter much whether the occasion was decked out in a kaleidoscope of coloured fabrics, lots of flowers, glamour and aplomb.
A typical scripted occasion would start out from the church venue before the entourage went for a simple reception likely hosted at a primary school in the local neighbourhood.
Never mind the venue or background for the very special moment. All that counted was the exchange of matrimonial vows and the coveted rings. The day’s highlight, for instance, would be the ceremonial occasion.
And whether it took place in a poorly-lit room whose walls were bare in the local school or the more spruced up church hall, was not really a big deal.
But fast-forward to the 21st Century — and the stakes are now pegged on higher, extravagant and at times sophisticated premium. The changing trends, fast catching on within the comparatively lucrative wedding industry, seems to play a pivotal role in the grounding of fairly over-rated, innovative standards.
Consequently, the wedding industry service providers are being compelled to step up their game to gain a more aggressive footing and edge over competitors. Planners also have no choice, but to go out of their way to pay keen attention to specific bride or groom preferences.
“We and I guess other player were previously a plain wedding option, whereby the bridal party would be offered only the grounds if they were keen on having a garden wedding,” says Evans Kabue, general manager of Ridgeways Park Hotel’s Green Gardens situated on Kiambu road.
Despite being established in the wake of spiraling shift by developers to embrace countryside locations, demand for leisurely recreation spaces set within a natural environment keeps growing in leaps and bounds.
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“We realised our potential clients’ desired varied packages that include the serenity of open gardens, manicured lawns, well-tended flowers, trees and the chirping birds as a bonus. This setting also guarantees a soothingly refreshing, stimulating experience and exclusive atmosphere,” notes Evans.
The need to conceptualise and generate competitively tailor-made wedding packages for an increasing discerning clientele is the fuel that drives and dictates trends in the sector. In the quest to outdo their peers, cuddly-lovebirds are loosening their grip on the purse so as to raise the bar and successfully pull off a glamorous wedding ceremony.
Consequently, hired gardens have become an ideal bet on the weddings circuit, more so owing to the flexibility that open-air venues offer to the planner or couple. The buoyant and professionally landscaped twin-gardens’ spacious scenery is eye-catching.
“We stumbled upon these gardens with my fiancée, and looking around we thought it was bound to suit our requirements, though the initial plan was to go for a hotel-setting wedding,” enthuses bride-to-be Nina Kagendo.
“For us, the numerous trees dotting the lushly knit gardens not only complement the multi-colourful, flowery shrubs. They blend flawlessly with the well-trimmed and manicured grass lawn, whose setting reflects a combination and balance of assorted flowers.
“This ambiance out here easily convinces one to pause and think about the out-door wedding pros than the cons. I feel it goes a long way to set the mood for a picturesque ceremony, but only if it does not rain and the sky stays blue,” remarks Nina.
Of note is the fact that numerous well-known venues are situated within a 10 kilometre radius on this countryside setting. The Safari Park Hotel, Windsor Club Gardens, Paradise Gardens, Wander Joy, Evergreen Park and Gardens, and House in Bloom among others, have also become popular for hosting garden weddings.
Some boast of water bodies, dams constructed several decades ago that have creatively been used to set up a deck, which is used as a pulpit from where newly weds exchange their vows.
Take the case of Paradise Gardens where a background of water and a coffee plantation gets lovebirds desiring nothing else.
Windsor also offers newlyweds a honeymooners suite in addition to a photo session venue.
But time and again, proliferation of this concept does raise concerns this facet of the wedding industry could be saturated with identical packages.
But only time will tell whether the growing appeal for garden weddings is a passing fad or a sign of the times, likely to edge out the traditional preference for indoor ceremonies mainly in church venues.