The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Planning (Tanzanian Style)

  | 7 min read

For most of us, our wedding day is one of the most memorable days of our lives. So it’s safe to say that there is a lot of pressure to make sure it’s perfect.

Adding to the stress is the fact that unlike many western countries where the wedding is literally a one day celebration, in Tanzania (and many other parts of the world), the wedding is a series of ceremonies that include:

  • Engagement party + Dowry ceremony: When the groom asks for the woman’s hand in marriage and his family consults her family on a dowry payment.
  • Bridal Shower: Younger modern brides like to have a bridal shower with their friends, a more laid back party then the kitchen party.
  • Kitchen Party: A party for women where the intended bride is given advice and gifts that will help in her life as a wife.
  • Begi (Bag) Party (male version of kitchen party): Male version of kitchen party thrown by women in male’s family.
  • Send-Off Party: The going away party for the bride before the wedding, usually a bigger event than the wedding ceremony.
  • Wedding Ceremony: The exchange of vows typically in a religious setting.
  • Wedding Reception: The party after the wedding.

*Tanzania’s religious make-up is almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians, and there is also a significant amount of Hindus of all sects, Sikhs, and Buddhists. So wedding ceremonies tend to slightly differ depending on the type of religion(s) the bride and groom follow.

It takes a village to make a wedding

Moreover, traditionally, committees formed by the bride and groom’s families handle the details of the wedding.  So, using wedding planners is a relatively new and not so popular practice.

Nevertheless, whether you are having a traditional Tanzanian wedding or doing something modern, there are certain common steps that you need to take to effectively plan your dream wedding. Hopefully, this guide will help you.

1. What do you want?

Before you hire a wedding planner or create your family wedding committee, brainstorm what you would like experience during your wedding. For instance,

  • Is there a common theme you are interested in? For example: romantic, beach, old Hollywood, African inspired, modern etc
  • Is there a specific location type you want? For example: beach, old house, hotel, conference room
  • What is the vibe you are looking for? Laid-back? Formal? Chic?
  • What time of the year are you interested in getting married?
  • How many people do you want there? Just an estimate.

Once you’ve got an idea of what you and your partner want, then you can move forward.

2. Budget

Tanzanians have a practice ‘mchango’ of fundraising – collecting money from friends and family for their weddings. So depending on how much funds you raise, that will determine the budget.

However, nowadays many young couples don’t fundraise. Instead, they (and their parents) pay for their wedding.

Whatever you decide to do,  when calculating your budget, think about:

Remember, don’t overspend on the wedding. It’s a memorable moment, but what’s more important is the life that comes after. So don’t add stress to your new marriage by spending all your savings.

3. Wedding Location:

Choosing the dates and getting the venue for each event is the first thing you should do. This can be an especially challenging task if you have multiple ceremonies.

Things to consider include:

  • Weather
  • Parking
  • Accessibility: Is it located in a convenient area? Is it far away? Will there be traffic?
  • Costs

The send-off, wedding ceremony party are usually the most attended affairs. So make sure to find a space that’s big enough.

Find your wedding conference hall or venue.

4. Design, color schemes, and décor

It’s advisable to have a color scheme for your wedding to create consistency. Knowing what your wedding theme is, and the atmosphere (classy, relaxed, formal etc) you wish to create for the day will greatly help you determine all this.

Also, even if you don’t use a wedding planner for your whole wedding, consulting a professional planner or designer to help you come up with the color scheme and decor will make planning easier for you with better results.

5. Wedding Invitations

Your wedding invitations should reflect your wedding colors and overall theme. If you are having multiple ceremonies than you will need multiple wedding invites.

Add some great personal touches like your favorite love poem or verse from a song, and maybe even a picture or cartoon drawing of the bride and groom.

Though you shouldn’t spend too much money from your budget on this, the wedding invitation is actually a great way to get people excited to come to your wedding.

6. Music and Entertainment

Tanzanians love their music and dancing, especially at celebratory events like weddings. So, you have to invest in an experienced DJ or live band that can play a range of music, including, traditional East African music, top 40 pop and hip-hop, house and whatever else your guests will enjoy grooving to.

Luckily, there are a lot of great DJs and live bands out there.

7. Food

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your wedding venue and decor is, or how great the live band sounds. If the food is bad, then that is what people will remember about your wedding.

When choosing a catering company, make sure to try a sample of all the food they’ll be serving at the wedding. Also, depending on the number of guests you have, you’ll have to decide between having a buffet or sit-down meal where waiters serve the food.

However, what’s more important than how people get food, is that your guests should be able to eat as much as they want (so make sure there is enough food). Remember, your guests have gone out of their way to be there for you. Don’t disappoint them with terrible food.

Check out some catering companies here.

8. Drinks

Make sure you have an endless amount of drinks for guests to enjoy. A pay bar is a no-no in Tanzania, you have to supply the drinks for free for all your guests.

9. Transport

You shouldn’t worry about transportation or being late on your wedding day, so hire a reliable car service that will be there on time and get you to your destination safely.

Book a good car service here.

10.  Service staff

If the venue doesn’t provide a service staff, there are plenty of companies you can hire. Don’t be cheap on this as the service staff will determine the experience of your guests. You want all your guests to be served promptly and listened to, so ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation.

11.  Wedding clothes

While the wedding dress is the most important clothing item in your wedding.  You will also have to pick clothes for the other ceremonies, the bridesmaids, the groom’s, groomsmen and other wedding parties.

Think of the bigger picture

There are a lot of things to arrange before a wedding, so understandably, it can become incredibly stressful for those doing the planning. However, it’s important to remember that the wedding day is not the most important part of your marriage. The marriage itself is what matters. So while you should take the day seriously, know that the real challenges and joy begin after you say, ‘I do’.

Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.