One bright and sunny day, I was on Waiyaki Way, heading towards the city centre, when something in the sky, around Westlands, caught my eye. It was a huge billboard announcing the launch of a new magazine: a Kenyan bridal magazine. I remember the cover, three brides, and the debates that ensued over their skin tones. I also remember that gut feeling that one gets when you know that you have, before you, a fine idea. I just knew that this was the birth of something exciting.
Girl, was I right! To this day, this is one Kenyan idea that I wish were mine. The magazine was launched. It came every quarter. I’ll be honest, I have only flipped through one or two copies over the years. Even now I cannot tell you if the magazine is still quarterly. The thing that changed the wedding landscape in Kenya was the offspring of that magazine. The wedding sector would never be the same again.
Of note is the Samantha’s Bridal Fair. This expo runs twice a year, usually in February and July and always at the Sarit Centre. I am a big fan of expos. I attend most of them. In my humble opinion, the Samantha’s Bridal Fair is one of the top expos in Nairobi, sharing the podium with the Homes Expo and a few others. The event has become a must-see for women, brides or not, a must-go for the media and must-have for many brands targeting brides, women and event planners. Over the years, I have attended the Fair and watched with my eye as sponsors and exhibitors increase in number. The sponsors range from alcoholic beverages, to hotels, spas, jewellery retailers, radio and TV stations among others. The exhibitors are all providers of some wedding service which ranges from catering to clothing, and from flowers to party favours.
The Fair expanded a few years ago to include a Fashion Show in a packed hall that takes places two to three times a day during the Fair days. The scene is professionally lit and decorated and Kenya’s best designers are present. They showcase bridal gowns, groom’s wear, dresses for bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys and even suggestions for the mothers of the couple.
I believe that the expo is a success partly because the organizers have worked to engage all 5 senses – the sights are all colourful, the taste buds are tickled with wedding cake samples, which is the reason why I never miss the show. The fashion show engages our ears through music, we can smell the fresh flower arrangements at the expo and our touch is engaged through the flowers, dress and textures that we shall behold in one afternoon.
The Samantha’s Bridal magazine has had other offspring: one is a wedding show on TV. The two wedding shows on local television, one by Samantha, have been very successful. So successful that men blame them for creating fairy tale expensive wedding expectations from their brides.
The group also launched the Business Woman magazine a few years ago. That didn’t do well and the magazine exited the market soon after. I read it more than once and felt that it lacked colour and did not have a pleasing layout.
You can get more information about Samantha’s Bridal Company on the web. Their website is usually not updated as regularly as it should be and as I write this, their web is inaccessible. In the meantime, you may visit their Facebook page.