From West African chic To dude ranch romance
Wedding trends these days range from an opulent affair in Dubai to a horseback event at a Central Florida resort.
BY PENNY DICKERSON
The universal language of love is spoken with a unique variance in Black culture and across continents.
Wedding traditions date back to the West African tradition of “jumping the broom” to the 21st-century bride who embraces European conventions – white dresses trailed by long trains, a legion of bridesmaids and exorbitant receptions held at venues with restrictions that confine creativity.
Despite cultural disparity, the common denominators are expense and fuss. More millennia couples are seeking affordable options and opting for the beauty of the outdoors.
Trending are “rustic chic” themes, and while it may require courage for brides to skirt tradition, a dude ranch destination is innovative, affordable and won’t require parents to seek a second mortgage.
Luxury at a price
Marriage used to be a simple ritual that left no one in debt. Historically, Black couples required a preacher, a chapel, a Bible and a broom. Onlookers witnessed bliss for free and picnic table receptions were outdoors with enough fried chicken to feed a tribe.
The cost of becoming “Mrs.” has since significantly changed. According to CNNmoney.com, American couples spent an average of $31,213 on their big day in 2014. The figure is up more than 4 percent from $29,858 in 2013 (Source: The Knot).
Renting a venue is the most expensive budgeted item with an average of $14,006, followed by the engagement ring at $5,855 and the band at $3,587. The average catering price per guest rang up at $68 in 2014.
West African opulence
Funke Bucknor, founder of Nigeria’s leading wedding and events company, was the first planner to establish a company 12 years ago and seized the West African Wedding Market. She realized that money was no option for brides-to-be who desired the best at any cost.
“Our core clientèle is mainly made up of millionaires. They will not hesitate to spend the money in order to get what they want. If they need to fly in an artist from America or a decorator from Dubai or London, they will do so,” Bucknor remarked. The Nigerian bride is blessed by tradition, which doubled Bucknor’s profit margin.
“First, there is the traditional wedding – the only wedding recognized by the family – followed by the white wedding, which is similar to that which we know in the West,” said Bucknor, who added that Dubai and London are the most popular destinations, followed by Cape Town, Seychelles and the Maldives.
In a country rich in oil reserves and a rising entertainment industry, the average Nigerian is known to host 1,000 people for a small affair with 2,000 to 3,000 guests for larger weddings.
A West African matrimonial celebration is daylong with food and drinks available from 2 p.m. to midnight along with endless champagne. In fact, a 2013 study, research by Euromint revealed Nigeria had the world’s fastest growing rate of champagne consumption, second only to France, while ahead of U.S. and China.
Dude ranch romance
In the unfortunate case that an American bride is neither a millionaire nor an heir, a themed wedding in Central Florida is a fast-growing option. Whether it’s your first marriage or not your first time at the rodeo, a rustic themed wedding at the 1,700-acre Westgate River Ranch Resort has gained romantic appeal.
“Weddings are a very popular option here at the ranch,” said Westgate Resorts COO Mark Waltrip.
“We offer a variety of experiences for the couple looking to add a unique flair to their special day.”
The dude ranch is centrally located between Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf beaches and the entire wedding experience can be hosted at one location.
From the rehearsal dinner to the honeymoon, couples can choose from a variety of wedding packages, a licensed officiant and a team of professionals on site.
Wedding options range from a traditional white chapel ceremony to a horseback affair and couples can choose to host a reception at several locations, including the ranch’s intimate saloon or a 2,000-square-foot grand hall.
Imagine the stumps of once majestic oak trees transformed into centerpieces accented with sprigs of wheat and fresh floral. Nostalgia reigns as guests are seated beneath moss-lined trees or sip sweet tea from old-fashioned mason jars.
Endless possibilities exist beneath blue skies and the natural light alone makes it all affordable.