By Lucy Kassa |

Lake Hawassa may be a poor alternative for a wedding that was intended to take place by the ocean, but it was a better alternative with all the relatives that could be invited, which would not have been the case if Meron Abebe and Zimare Bekele had kept their initial decision of getting married in the US, where they had been living.

January, a shiny and sunny season of the year is a well-known month in Ethiopia for its many wedding ceremonies. Meron Abebe, 29, an educational program officer at the Addis Ababa Office of the Institute of International Education, an American NGO, has been in Ethiopia for the past three years. She held her wedding ceremony at Haile Resort, Hawassa, 273Km south of Addis Ababa.

“We had always wanted a wedding by the ocean. Then we took a vacation to Hawassa and spent some time at Haile Resort. We loved the lake there; it is beautiful and that is when we decided to perform our vows there,” Zimare stated.

A wedding in Addis Ababa, Meron added, would have been less attractive with traffic congestion, huge crowds of people by the streets and all the construction work that is going on.

The total cost invested for the celebration, excluding the transportation cost of the guests, which was covered by themselves except for the bridesmaids and groomsmen, was above 200,000 Br, Meron said. They had 250 guests.

Lakeside view of Babogaya Resort in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia

Lakeside view of Babogaya Resort in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia

Another couple, who did not wish to be identified, spent three times more, 600,000Br, including the transport expense of their guests to the Kuriftu Resort in Bishoftu in January a year ago. The reason they made their wedding outside Addis Ababa, the couple said, was because the wanted to make their wedding day “very special, unique, unforgettable and romantic.”

But going to those countries for the wedding was unaffordable, he said.

The trend of conducting wedding ceremonies outside the city, though infrequent, happens mostly with people that have high income, and usually they invite fewer guests, says, Addis Dawit, Medhin Décor service manager.

When the wedding goes out of Addis Ababa, the décor expense also goes up. At Meden Décor, they charge 15,000 Br to 30,000 Br for weddings within the city, whereas the range goes up to 30,000 Br to 45,000 Br when the wedding held is held outside city.

The increase in payment is because of transportation fees for employees and the time consuming nature of the work, which on average is three days, Addis says. It is also impossible to work on more than one wedding in a day when weddings take place outside of the city.

Expenses similarly rise for photography. At one popular photo studio, clients are charged 15,000 Br more for photo shoots out of the city, according to the assistant manager.

The places preferred for weddings outside the city are usually those whose distance is within 300Km such as Debre Ziet, Adama and Hawassa due to their proximity to the city and convenience for guests, according to those in the wedding business. Moreover, the increasing number of resorts and lodges at such places combined with the natural endowment of the places such as lakes have contributed to their selection for wedding ceremonies.

Though very few, there are also wedding travels to Mombasa, Dubai and other foreign cities, says Geberselam Bezuayen, manager of Photo Desta at the 22 Mazoriya branch. This studio has a branch in Dubai, which takes full photo shoot contracts. There are also those couples who manage their own photo shoots and get their photos developed in Ethiopia.

Taking into account the enormous costs, most people, except those with much higher income, do not prefer to conduct their weddings outside city. Sometimes, even the rich do not want to incur exaggerated costs. Rather, they spend their money on household items, such as modern furniture and electronic goods, says Semhal Asmelash, an owner of Joberg Bridal around 22 Mazoria, comparing the number of brides who booked to rent a bridal dress for a wedding outside of the city and within the city.

As the days for which the dress is rented increases the payment will also increase. For weddings to be conducted within the city the average day the dress will stay with the bride is one day and at the second day it will be returned back to the owner. But in case of weddings outside the city, the dress will not be returned for a minimum of three days and its cost will have doubled.

Despite such cost increments and its luxurious nature, however, the trend of conducting weddings outside of the city is being practiced by people and becoming an pleasant preference for couples that can afford it.

Source: Addis Fortune

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