By Maria Immaculate Owechi
“Couples in the past used to organise and celebrate simple church weddings attended by only close family members and friends,” says Andrew Kirya, a marriage counselor at All faith Ministries in Makindye. “Today’s big and fancy weddings were considered a privilege for only the celebrities, rich and royalty,” he adds.
Over the past decade, the middle-class has joined the quest to hold expensive weddings that feature luxurious receptions, décor, food, drinks, music and musicians. The community tends to hold such couples in high esteem which has fueled the trend. The downside is that it has misguided many young couples to believe that in order to get married, they need to have a lot of money to throw a flashy wedding ceremony.
However, there are few young couples who still like the idea of having a simple wedding, not necessarily because they do not have the finances to throw a lavish ceremony. This is exactly the case for this couple.
On the morning of October 31, 2019, Nicholas Arineitwe, 32, a visual artist and Florence Najjumba, 28, a teacher at Qamar High school, Bunamwaya exchanged their vows during a mass at St Gyaviira Bunamwaya, Catholic parish.
After the religious ceremony, the groom headed to his workplace on a boda-boda while his bride returned home to host their guests for a small party.
“My husband returned later in the evening and we took a few pictures and had an indoor celebration with a few family members and friends,” Najjumba reveals.
Arineitwe revealed that they have always dreamt of having a small, simple and intimate wedding ceremony since their dating days.
“We didn’t organise a simple low-cost wedding because we lacked the finances but we always wanted something simple and intimate,” the groom explained. “Up to today some people still don’t understand why we organised such a function yet finances were not an issue.”
He adds that there are friends and relatives who even offered to fund some wedding items including offering a wedding dress which they turned down.
Explaining why they had their wedding during a church mass, Najjemba says that since their dating days, they have always loved attending mass.
“Since we are a couple who love attending mass, we wanted it to be extra special by having a wedding ceremony take place during one,” she explained. “We also wanted our wedding to take place in October because it is a dedicated month to the holy Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church.”
The couple also revealed that they first met around January or February during a lunch hour mass in 2012 at the Catholic Chapel, Kyambogo University.
By then the two were both students at Kyambogo University where Najjumba was pursuing a degree in Arts in Education while Arineitwe was upgrading with a degree in Industrial art and design.
“As I sat opposite her, I felt my heart pumping fast the entire mass,” Arineitwe revealed.
“During another fellowship, we were asked to pick the names of a prayer partner and he picked me,” the bride shares. “That is how we started interacting until we eventually started dating.”
Najjemba further shared that even when they started courting on March 9, 2012, their dates involved attending prayer fellowships under a club called Legion of Mary and visiting prayer places like Kiwamirembe, Divine Mercy Center, among others.
“This common preference for fellowships helped in strengthening our relationship,” Arineitwe adds.
My Wedding had a detailed chat with them and they got to fill us in their love journey and how they managed to make it work.
How long did you date before formalising your relationship?
Arineitwe: We dated up to 2016 until I asked her to move in with me after giving birth to our firstborn son in February. We had our second son in 2018.
Najjumba: When I had my first child, we had both graduated and I was already having a well-paying job in Masaka. In December 2016 I had to sacrifice by resigning from my job so that I could move in with him in Kampala.
When did you decide to formalise the relationship?
Najjumba: It was in July 2019 during one evening mass at St Gyaviira Bunamwaya Catholic parish when the priest gave a sermon encouraging couples to formalise their relationships. This triggered something and I felt the conviction that we needed to wed. However, we already had plans of tying the knot but we just had not given ourselves a time frame.
Arineitwe: At home that day, we discussed and agreed to organise a simple function both for the traditional and church wedding ceremony before the year ended. We made no plans of organising wedding meetings to receive funding from family and friends.
How did you convince your family members to accept this idea?
Najjumba: The following week, I informed my Ssenga who notified my uncle about our plans. Since I have no parents and I was raised by an uncle who stays in Mukono, I had to personally visit my uncle to explain how we wanted our traditional wedding to be. He welcomed the idea and said my husband can come with whatever he can afford.
How did you organise the traditional wedding?
Najjumba: I informed him a day before that we shall be coming for the traditional ceremony. The next day on Monday, October, 14, 2019, we travelled with an entourage of five people to meet my family members. I travelled with my husband’s entourage so that I could easily direct them to our home.
We found my uncle had gathered about eight people to receive us. Thankfully, they were able to organise a nice dinner even when I had called on short notice.
What was the bride price?
Arinaitwe: I gave my father-in-law an envelope with a specific amount of money accompanied by some household groceries. For my wife’s Ssenga, we had earlier visited and handed over to her an envelope addressed as a gomesi.
Najjumba: After the bride price was well received, we knelt down for a blessing from my uncle. He also gave us a letter of recommendation that was needed for the church ceremony to proceed.
Which traditional attires did you wear?
Arineitwe: I wore formal wear of a matching khaki coat and trousers with a nice shirt inside.
Najjumba: Instead of the gomesi, I preferred to wear a long dress with a cute coat to cover my arms. Generally, we wanted our things to be casual and simple.
How did you organise the church wedding?
Najjumba: Even before the traditional wedding, we were already taking pre-marital counseling which lasted a month.
Arineitwe: We had only informed our key family members. We didn’t tell friends because we wanted something small with a few people.
However the eve before the function, we attended an evening fellowship where our officiating priest mentioned that we were getting married in the morning. That is how other people got to know about it.
Najjumba: Father Sserunjogi specifically wanted to wed us because he said we were a special couple. He said he wishes the youth would emulate what we had done.
What were you doing on your wedding eve?
Najjumba: I worked on that day but later in the evening, I did my personal shopping and went to the saloon after. Then, I came back home to assist some relatives who were preparing the things we needed for the after party the next day.
Arineitwe: I also worked on that and later went out to do my personal shopping.
Did you have an entourage?
Najjumba: We had no entourage but we requested two people that we looked up to sign our marriage certificate. They are given the title of father and mother. In case we ever get any marital issues, we run to them for help. The gentleman was actually one of our counselors during marital counseling.
How was the whole arrangement at your church wedding?
Najjumba: A friend offered to drive us to the ceremony which assisted in ensuring we kept time. We came in and sat in front as our friends and relatives sat behind us. The whole ceremony lasted for about one hour.
How many people witnessed your wedding ceremony?
Arineitwe: There were about 50 friends and family members. The rest were people who had just come for mass but found that a wedding ceremony was taking place.
Tell us about your wedding outfits?
Najjumba: I wore a floor-length evening dress which cost me Shs170, 000 and flat shoes at Shs20, 000 from a shop at Ham towers. I carried a purse instead of a bouquet. We already had the changing attires that we would use at the party with us.
Arineitwe: I already had my attire in my wardrobe and only bought shoes at Shs70, 000.
How much were the wedding rings?
Arineitwe: We bought the wedding rings at Shs15, 000 each at a shop in Mutaasa Kafeero on Kampala road.
What was your budget?
Arineitwe: I spent about shs500, 000 for organising the church ceremony.
What were your best moments?
Arineitwe: It was after being announced that we were officially man and wife. I also cried tears of joy when I received the Holy Communion after very many years. In the Catholic Church couples who haven’t formalised their relationships are not allowed to take Holy Communion.
Najjumba: When he said ‘I do’ wholeheartedly during the exchanging of vows.
Did you have any challenges while preparing for the ceremony?
Arineitwe: We had none since it was a simple wedding that we could organise by ourselves. We were only challenged by people who didn’t understand why we organised our wedding the way we did.
What did you learn during pre-marital counseling?
It is the best training, I wished we could continue attending it even after the wedding. I learnt that nobody is perfect and you just have to accept them for who they are.
Arineitwe: I learnt that you should be committed to your partner with the mindset that you have to love them forever. Even during the counseling, they would ask us, “Before you proceed with the function, is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?”
What advice do you give to those intending to get married?
Arineitwe: I advise them to live within their means by organising for a wedding ceremony they can afford. Also, to organise a wedding, one does not need to have a lot of money.
Najjumba: I urge them to embrace formalizing their relationship rather than cohabiting. There is no religion that agrees with cohabiting. After the wedding, there is this inner peace and happiness I have felt after being free from living a life of sin.
It also opened up doors of blessings where my husband now receives more work contracts.
From My Wedding Magazine, we wish you Mr and Mrs Arineitwe a happy marriage.