The nightmare of planning a wedding could soon be a thing of the past. That is if the long held dream of a passionate young married mother, Wandu Phala-Goodwill becomes a reality.
Phala-Goodwill, through events management company, Open World Events, will host the first ever Gaborone Bridal Expo in the first weekend of May. As one of the brains behind the event and project manager tells Arts & Culture that if all goes according to plan, for two days on May 1 and 2, Ditshupo Hall will be a place to celebrate love and weddings.
The motivation behind the expo, says Phala-Goodwill, is the realisation, which could have been very much born out of experience that the bride, instead of enjoying her wedding, is most of the time caught in the never-ending problems of preparations. It is the frustrating aspect of running up and down that steals away the enjoyment, which propelled Phala-Goodwill and partners to finally step to the plate and deliver what they hope will alleviate the headaches of wedding planning. The plan is to bring everything under one roof, so the couples can experience and network with suppliers.
“You will appreciate that the wedding is all about the bride. The bride is at the centre of everything. It is her ideas that are birthed on the day. The colours, the dress, the cake, the décor and all. So it is important that we bring all these to her, to cut down her running leg…” says Phala-Goodwill.
Equally important is the groom, “the tortured soul”.
“You will find the groom, while he should also be central to the decisions, is lost, sidelined to the process. He has no or little say of the whole planning,” notes Phala-Goodwill.
Hence the main focus for the expo is on the couple, ensuring that it caters for the needs of the bride as much as those of the groom. The organisers want both parties to come together, go through different exhibitors and make decisions based on what they see.
Again, notes Phala-Goodwill, by accompanying the bride, “the groom’s job is simplified, your leg work will be cut short”.
“The man’s stress point is always about traditional stuff such as magadi negotiations and the woman is left to take care of the white wedding. The groom only comes in to pay, but with no appreciation of the issues involved, most of the time feeling pressurised. By coming to the expo, the groom will be able not only to see what is possible, but also plan and decide with the bride,” she says.
Walking through the exhibitor stalls, and engaging experts in the industry will be ideal.
“It is an opportunity not only to come, network and get ideas, but also to do the touch and feel of the fabrics, see designs and even taste the cake sample. The couple can experience it all together, visualising and deciding on what they want based on what they have sampled,” she says.
While recognising that there are wedding expos in and around Gaborone, Phala-Goodwill insists theirs will be different in that, it will not only focus on the couple, but also on growing the bridal industry.
“We are all about growing together.”
That growth also means hosting the event annually. Open World Events has partnered with Fairground Holdings.
This, says Phala-Goodwill, is a strategic move as Fairgrounds has experience in hosting fairs, expos and exhibitions, including international ones. The plan, she says, is to ensure sustainability, while also exploring possibilities of growing beyond Gaborone.
The expo will draw different sectors and players in the bridal industry, who for two days, Friday and Saturday, will exhibit their products. These will be businesses in the bridal industry and complementary sectors, including confectionaries, cake making, dress making, florists, DJs, stage works, tents, chairs, hair and nails, photography and videography among others. The organisers also want to bring to the party the hospitality and destination industry to sell packages to couples.
“This is an ever evolving type of trade. We are hoping to show our guests the best in the market. Moreover, the exhibitors will have more showcasing time,” she adds.
Phala-Goodwill says they will also host two fashion shows. On the opening night, there will be a traditional themed wedding show, where designers will showcase the best of Botswana design wear. They also hope other international designers will come on board and showcase.
In fact, says Phala-Goodwill, the plan is to also bring on board wedding planners of other cultures, such as Indian and Chinese. “We know little of other people’s cultures and how they undertake their wedding parties. Through our expo, we hope to expose and show Batswana what we, in also sharing our culture, can learn from others,” she says. On the closing night, there will be a contemporary wedding fashion show, where the white gowns and the tuxedos will be paraded. Apart from Fairground Holdings, the event will also have the support of among others Lengau Wine Company, Gabz FM as the radio broadcasting partner and Press24.tv, who are carrying their online booking form at the link www.press24.tv/GaboroneBridalExpoBookingForm.pdf.