In Summary

Making ends meet. As a nutritionist, becoming a wedding planner was not on her mind at all until she had to help her brother plan for his wedding. After doing it, Immaculate Tiana Kazooba realised that she could turn this into a business. She has now planned more than 10 weddings.

Although soft spoken, Immaculate Tiana Kazooba, 32, has been in the fast-paced wedding planning business for five years. As with everything to do with weddings, innovation and trendiness is key, so to have an edge over her competitors, her business is online – Tiana E-weddings.

How it started
“I have always loved weddings and I believe that every wedding should be unique. I started out by organising my brothers’ weddings and I soon developed the passion for planning other people’s weddings.

What they do
Unfortunately, most people think wedding planning is all about decoration. It is more than fashion and décor. The planning starts from the time the marriage proposal is made, through the customary wedding, up to the church, mosque or civil wedding. Twice, in Nairobi and Arusha, I have been contracted to plan the couple’s honeymoon, as well.”

How it is done
“There are two types of clients. Some will come to me after they have identified the service providers they want to use, the church and the reception venue. They only need me to follow up and coordinate the service providers.

Others will want you to do everything – draw the budget, identify service providers and monitor them. This is the premium package and depending on the number of guests and on whether it is an outdoor or indoor function, I charge between Shs1.5m and Shs5m for my labour. I never get involved in the payment process between the client and the service provider.”

Outdoor functions are usually cheaper – a plate of food will cost the couple about Shs30,000, while the same will cost between Shs50,000 to Shs100,000 in a hotel. Although the beauty in indoor functions is that they are a one-stop shop for everything because the hotel provides the chairs, food, and drinks, making them easier to organise.

Starting out
Kazooba’s first wedding to organise was her older brother’s, which she says was a trial because she did not budget how much she would spend on transport and airtime while coordinating the service providers.

“I later realised there has to be proper communication between the planner and the couple. At the same time, you need to have a good rapport with the organising committee of the wedding. If you are not on the same page with them, the wedding can never go well, in spite of the fact that you have a good relationship with the couple or there is an abundance of funds.”

Two diverse weddings
Kazooba’s favourite wedding was one she planned in December 2016, in Karen, Nairobi. The bride was a Kenyan but she had worked in Uganda for a while. “She told me she wanted the Ugandan feel to her day.
In Uganda, there is too much hype around everyone associated with the function, right from the time the bride announces the proposal. In Kenya and Tanzania, the happiness happens on the wedding day.
Before that, it is business as usual. I loved that wedding because all the service providers were on time and delivered professionally. It was not a classy wedding but the planning made it really good.”
Even with minimum funds, a wedding function can be pulled off. Because of good planning everything will turn out beautifully, more than at a multi-million wedding.

Kazooba’s worst wedding also happened in the same month in Kampala, when a couple refused to pay the service providers. Sometimes, even with the professional advice of a wedding planner, some clients have peculiar requests. “For instance, in November 2016, a bride wanted canopy lights and lanterns for an indoor wedding. It was a bit ridiculous because the beauty of such lights only comes out in an outdoor setting. However, the client is king so we had to do as she asked.”

Challenges of planning weddings.
As with any other business, non-committal clients are a strain. They go along with the plans but along the way, after meeting the service providers, they change their mind about using a wedding planner. “Some have lied to me that the function has been canceled, just to avoid paying my fee. Nowadays, before I take on a client, they have to pay a committal fee of 80 per cent of what I will charge them.”
Also, 90 per cent of wedding decorators think they are wedding planners so they usually do not appreciate Kazooba’s role in the preparations of a wedding function. There are seasons famous for weddings, and others in which weddings are scarce. During those times, Kazooba concentrates on her job as a nutrition consultant. In 2016, she worked on only six weddings.

what they do

The first thing a wedding planner does is help the couple draw the budget for their function, because it is from the estimated budget that other aspects, such as food, entertainment, and gifts, can be planned.