NAIROBI, Kenya 

While most of Kenyans are awaiting the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic to go away to return to pompous and costly marriage rituals, many couples have turned to invite minimum guests and live streaming ceremonies.

In the central town of Muranga, Kevin Maina and Joyce Wanjiku walked down the aisle at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), with nine guests, seated three meters apart all wearing masks to solemnize their marriage. The entire ceremony cost them just 80,000 Kenyan shillings ($800).
Amid rampant cancellations of wedding receptions in the wake of lockdown, the couple tried ingenious way and live-streamed the ceremony for parents, other relatives, and friends.

“The wedding brought us two together. At the church, we had three witnesses, the two of us and the priest and some other friends. It was crazy and fun to see our parents watching us from hundreds of miles away from their home on a virtual platform,” said the bride Wanjiku.

She said that her plans for arranging an ostentatious ceremony with 30 bridesmaids, expensive bridal accessories and attires, hotel bookings, photographers, florists, music bands, and videographers went down to inviting just nine people.

“The wedding was going to cost us millions. It has now cost us only 80,000 Kenyan shillings ($800). All my friends watched and applauded us online from the comfort of their homes, “she said.

Father watched the wedding on the computer

Tom Maina, father of the groom, also saw the wedding on his computer screen at his home in Mombasa 569 kilometers (353 miles) from Muranga town.
“We were around 300 people watching online. Things were done differently due to the pandemic. We along with the family of the bride could not attend ceremony physically due to travel restrictions. We thank God that everything went well,“ said father Maina.

The groom Kevin Maina said all they needed was a priest and a person to handle the camera to ensure the wedding goes online.
The couple is not the only one who navigated into the uncharted waters. At many places, couples are using online platforms to solemnize weddings. They also invite media to cover their unique big day with a smaller budget.

Wedding planners hit hard

Francis Gitonga and Veronica Njeri also similarly tied the knot and shared their pictures and video on social media. They had invited just six guests to accompany them to church.
“Even during this pandemic, we can find love, seal that love, and prove that we will come from the virus stronger. We also saved a lot of money,” said Veronica, the bride.

Janet Nzioka is a wedding planner who said that her company Nzioka Weddings has been hit hard due to pandemic and the people preferring frugal weddings.
“With people planning small weddings and inviting friends to join them online, it has become hard for us to survive. We do also arrange online weddings but the budget is too small to survive,” she said.

Last week authorities arrested 39 Kenyan-Somali women and then put them in a 14-day quarantine after they had attended a pompous wedding party in the capital Nairobi. Kenyan authorities said the event was crowded and ignored social distancing norms.

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