“I met Andrew on stage at Alliance Française in Nairobi in 2008. He was playing the piano while I was doing background vocals for a local musician. Despite the fact that he is an extrovert and I an introvert, we got along like a house on fire. We had a four-year whirlwind romance before he proposed marriage in 2012.
“Moving from the excitement of engagement to the nitty-gritty of planning for a wedding, I discovered that weddings were such an expensive affair. I had just graduated from college and I was still jobless, so the figures quoted by suppliers left me astounded. The décor provider wanted Sh100, 000 and that was just one aspect of the big and beautiful 600-guest ceremony we had in mind. Though Andrew was working, I felt bad about splurging on our wedding, yet we would need some money to start us off in the initial months of marriage. I wanted a beautiful wedding that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, so I started thinking about how to make it happen.
“The first thing I thought of was the décor. All the photographs I had seen from the service providers looked the same. While I studied biochemistry at the university, I have always been artistic, so I started thinking of how I could use my artistic skills to make my own décor to cut down the cost from Sh100, 000 to something more reasonable, while creating something unique and memorable for my big day.
Luckily, I stumbled upon Pinterest, a social networking website that acts as a scrap book where people share and curate images and videos of things they are interested in. Pinterest opened me up to endless alternatives to farm-grown flowers. There, I found numerous types of hand-made décor. After days of poring over photographs, I was confident that with some practice, I could pull of our wedding décor by myself.
With the help of my family and a few artistic friends, I turned an unused servants’ quarters at home into my studio and I began creating the wedding décor. Some of my older friends and family couldn’t understand why I was stuck in a room cutting and painting pieces of paper and fabric all day.
EXACTLY AS PLANNED
‘Why don’t you just buy flowers? Is the problem money?’ I was asked over and over.
“Someone even offered to pay for the flowers but I already had a clear mental picture of how my wedding would look. At that point it was no longer about money, but about incorporating our shared love for art and music into the décor. We couldn’t quite agree on the colours so we went with a rainbow theme which we saw as a symbol of a fulfilment of God’s promises in our lives. I recycled wine bottles and used paper and old CDs to make the flowers, vases and the floating décor. I spent less than 50,000 shillings on all of it.
“The most important thing for a bride at the wedding usually is the gown. Naturally, I had begun looking at gowns soon after the engagement. I wanted to wear a tailored one but when I tried talking to local tailors, but the prices they quoted were too high.
Even the gowns in the shops, which I wasn’t particularly drawn to, were going for tens of thousands of shillings. In desperation, I spoke to a friend who’d just had a wedding and had a beautiful gown and she told me that she had bought hers online. So I started looking and I found a design I liked with a bustier made from feathers. The custom design cost me Sh20, 000.
“They say that no wedding goes exactly as planned, but my décor turned out exactly as I had envisioned. Both our personalities shone through it and my gown caused quite a stir online. We managed to cut costs in two areas and went on to have the beautiful wedding of our dreams.
“Soon after the wedding, friends started asking me where I got my décor. When I said I made it, they asked if I could make theirs. I got requests from couples who did not want to settle for the norm and who did not want to be limited to only certain colours of roses.
Now, three years after our wedding, Andrew and I run Think Outside the Box Studios, a company that produces custom-made wedding decor. I am the creative head while he handles management. It is very rewarding to go through the process of making custom-made décor with other couples.
While I mostly used paper for my wedding, I have grown as an artist, so we now use various materials ranging from wood and paper to metal and plastics.”