After a successful inaugural show last year, the East African Wedding Show is back, although this year it will take place virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is scheduled to take place from August 27 to 29, on the 10times virtual platform, from 11am to 6pm. The event is expected to attract more than 50 vendors and over 60 brides from across Africa who have already subscribed to attend. This year’s show, as its founder Brenda Nyakira explained, was meant to take place in February until Covid-19 happened and as the situation kept getting worse, vendors — mostly those outside Africa — could not travel to Rwanda, hence its cancellation. “My team and I sat down and strategised on how to help brides-to-be who still wanted their weddings to happen, or moved the dates to next year and the exhibitors, because no one knows when the Covid-19 pandemic will end—yet they want brides to book their services. Brenda Nyakira is the founder of East African Wedding Show. Photo by Willy Mucyo “We realised the virtual concept was taking off and with the virtual platform that we found, we were told that everything we had in the physical event, such as the entertainment, the emcees, the make-up and hair classes, we could all have in the virtual event and the exhibitors could have their virtual booths,” she said. With this aspect, she further explained, people who are interested can go to the virtual booth and have a one-on-one session with an exhibitor. “It’s an excellent opportunity for vendors to still market their products without having to travel, so people can do it in the comfort of their homes at a much less cost for them,” she added. The idea of the East African Wedding Show came about four years ago after Nyakira’s wedding experience, and she decided she wanted to start a business that helps brides plan their weddings. Her Instagram platform, East African Brides, soon garnered a huge following “because people wanted to look up pictures of brides to be inspired.” “From that platform, I also got another idea which is creating another platform, physically this time, for brides and grooms to meet with different vendors such as photographers, gowns and suits shops, caterers, hotels and honeymoon destinations,” she said. Although it was the first time Rwanda hosted a bridal exhibition last year, the show attracted a range of vendors, from hotels, hairstylists, fashion designers and makeup artists. “I didn’t want it to be just Rwanda because it’s common for Rwandan brides to find vendors from across the East African region. People did not understand the concept in the beginning but after last year’s event, they are more receptive. “This year we had better reception because people better understand the concept since they’ve seen it,” Nyakira said. “With the virtual show, we are even better equipped because people are starting to realise that they have no option because we are doing a matchmaking service. Every bride who subscribes to attend, we match them with a vendor, while each vendor is guaranteed at least 15 brides,” she added. Nyakira encouraged brides-to-be to sign up for free on their website, and that given the convenience and cost-effectiveness of the virtual event, this year’s experience could inspire them to organise more often, like thrice a year and maybe the physical one, once a year to grant brides and vendors more options.