By Joan Salmon
While outlining the government’s measures against coronavirus, President Museveni banned mass gatherings including weddings. He said those who cannot wait to get married can opt for small intimate weddings he referred to as a ‘scientific’ wedding. Although there have been varied reactions to it, some have embraced the idea.
At a time when everyone is ensuring their country is minimally affected by coronavirus, President Museveni, in his speech, put a ban on mass public gatherings for at least 32 days. Among such gatherings were weddings.
For those that desire to get joined in holy matrimony during this period, the President advised opting for a purely ‘scientific’ wedding where only the core persons are in attendance. In his view, these persons include the bridegroom, the bride, the best man, the assistant to the bride (matron), the Priest (or the CAO).
He is certain that such a wedding is possible as he had one himself. “Maama Janet and I, used the scientific one in 1973 and we have not regretted. The ‘coronavirus’ that time was the Amin regime.”
Several couples have followed his lead hence holding their weddings despite having to cut the attendance to no more than 10 people.
One of such was Jimmy Sekimpi who married Dr Joy Kemirembe Semambo on Saturday, March 21, at Kampala Evangelical Free Church. With their matron, best man and officiating priest, the ceremony was only attended by five people.
Another was held at a Seventh Day Adventist church presided over by Pastor Lubwama and only four people were in attendance. The list continues as Pastor Emma Mawejje of Phaneroo Ministries International also married Elizabeth in a ceremony officiated by Apostle Grace Lubega.
One may think that these couples do not put much thought into their dressing because the crowd is small, but the three couples were all well dressed. For example, Dr Kemirembe wore an off-shoulder cinderella gown embroidered with leafy patterns while her husband-to-be wore a well-tailored suit.
Lucy Kiyemba, a stylist, says regardless of the number of people in attendance, you ought to look great for your big day. “The wedding is essentially about exchanging vows. Audience size is, therefore, no reason for compromising on elegance.”
Faith Nabagala, an image consultant, also believes that regardless of the size, looking elegant is important as this is one function you cannot repeat.
For those that desire to have an elaborate reception, later is never too late because just like he had a small wedding entourage, the President also celebrated years later.
Marlene Mugerwa cannot imagine having a wedding without her grandmother. “She raised me and has always been there for me that having a wedding without her is criminal. If I were to get married now, postponement would be my only option.”
Justus Musiime who has always dreamed of a small wedding is in support of the current trend.
“There is no reason for an elaborate wedding when I am just starting out. The big celebration is ideal at some anniversary after we have become comfortable.”
Peter Tera, a photographer, laments about the situation saying his business has been affected greatly as he is now out of work. But he also says that Ugandans who thought that a wedding was about a big reception with several speeches are learning quite a lesson. “ I believe things are bound to change in the near future.”
Attention to detail
He adds that small weddings give chance to a more creative and less obstructive shoot.
“There is also more time for the photographer to go creative unlike the usual rush that is akin to traditional weddings,” he shares.
Nabagala believes that with or without the pandemic, the size of your wedding attendants boils down to choice.
“The couple can always postpone if they want a big wedding yet also have a small intimate wedding even without the current disaster.” A lot must be thought about before making a decision and nothing should be done under duress.
Rest of the world
While the minimum number of people here is 10, the Church of England restricted wedding ceremonies to five people where only the bride and groom, a minister and two witnesses should attend the ceremonies.
In Argentina, where a mandatory lockdown was imposed, Diego Aspitia and Sofia Cuggino in Córdoba city had an online wedding with an official and religious leaders. They streamed the ceremony on social media hence having their friends in virtual attendance.
In Indonesia, Irra Chorina Octora and her Turkish partner Yavuz Ozdemir exchanged vows at Al Akbar mosque in Surabaya.
While friends and family were in attendance, people sat two metres apart and only a maximum of 25 people was allowed. More to that, the masked couple did not have the customary kiss to seal the deal as it was against the rules.
Only couples who had booked for weddings before the pandemic were allowed to have their ceremonies.