By Desire Mbabaali
It is a lot of work to pull off a perfect wedding, but it is even double the work to pull off a perfect wedding event at a time as such, with the world – and country on lockdown.
Simple services such as salon, makeup, plus complex choices like choosing a wedding gown and reception venue all become complicated but all these complexities never dishearted Julius and Faith Besimbire to go over and beyond, just to have the perfect day they deserved.
With courage and determination; eyes on the prize, the two tied the knot on 2 May, at Makerere Full Gospel Church in a ‘scientific’ wedding and a reception thereafter at Fairway Hotel, Kampala.
When other people were panicking over very different reasons after the lockdown was declared, the Besimbires were panicking over their wedding. In planning, the introduction ceremony was to be held on April 18, and the wedding two weeks after, on May 02.
“We had already given deposits to some of the service providers, like Nanjing Restaurant which was going to be our reception venue, we had just done the wedding meetings launch, given out a few invitation cards and attended a few sessions of our premarital counselling. All preparations were ongoing…,” Faith explains.
To determine their next course of action, prayer would be the solution. From this, it was confirmed that they should go through with the wedding. But then again, the president had vividly shed light on how a ‘scientific wedding’ could be held, and the two jumped on this prospect.
But before the Big Day, they had to get the introduction ceremony out of the way.
“We had agreed with my wife’s parents that the introduction is done in a Kikiga way. We were to pay the bride price in cash and go there for a visit. So, the pandemic came when my leading man had already taken the bride price to the parents. And since public gatherings were restricted, my in-laws agreed to let us proceed with the wedding without doing the visit, which was so understanding of them,” Julius proudly notes.
But this wasn’t going to be a walkover for the two. Luckily, prior to the pandemic, their wedding meetings had also been digitalised using a WhatsApp group, so this helped to keep the conversations going.
“But this was a time of panicking, so contributions didn’t come in as expected. We then knew that we had to do the heavy lifting. We reached out to our close friends and requested their support and in the end, people really came through for us.” Faith appreciatively says.
With these disruptions in preparations, everything had to be revised. From a guest list of 250 people to 15 people, a budget of Shs38 million to about Shs3million and a fresh hunt for a wedding reception.
“We had thought about organising the reception in someone’s home, but that would have been hard to enforce the government restrictions, so my husband looked around, and we were able to get a hall at Fairway Hotel,” Faith explains. However, there was a lot more to be done.
Every bride wants to look their best on their wedding day. Even with 15 people around, Faith was not going to compromise her bridal look. Since she had not yet secured a wedding gown, this topped her priority list. Good enough, she had already done her homework before the pandemic. But with all bridal shops closed, a bunch of business cards she had collected before became the first place to look, but no one could open their shop for her.
“A workmate also sent me their gown to try on, but it was small for me…,” she reminisces with a smile. Desperate but not ready to give up, she eventually got someone with a shop in Wandegeya who could get her a gown on condition that she pays a deposit, before even looking at the gown.
This seemed like her only shot and she took it – like a bet. Living in Kyanja, she now tussled with the challenge of getting to Wandegeya.
“I have a friend who has a bicycle. He volunteered to give me his bicycle to help me with the wedding preparations and since I knew how to ride a bicycle, this became my means of transport in doing all the preparations. I cycled to Wandegeya to check the gown and good enough, I liked it. It had to be washed, so we identified Sheraton Hotel for the service. It, however, was too big to fit on my bicycle so I asked a friend who had a sticker on their car for help. Next was to find a saloon person to do her hair and makeup since all the people she knew had left their things in the arcades. She was directed to someone in Nansana and a few days to the wedding, she cycled there to do a testing session.
“The person didn’t think I was serious about coming so on reaching, they didn’t have makeup things to use – she had to borrow from her friends… (laughing hard)…when it came to the hair, she failed to do what I wanted, so I looked for someone else and I was able to get some gentleman from Nansana,” she adds. But her problems were far from over. She also needed shoes and jewellery to go with her gown which turned onto another endless episode.
“I looked in a number of supermarkets for shoes I could wear but totally failed. I cycled to Ntinda and looked even more but in vain. I then resorted to asking friends whom I knew had just wedded, but most of what I got was either ill-fitting or just couldn’t match with my gown. It was exhausting and expensive because I had to pay bodabodas that kept fetching things to and fro but in the end, I got something that worked for me,” she says with a sigh.
When it came to the bridal hand bouquet, Faith specifically wanted natural flowers but with many florists out of town, she had to pay a price for this. On her bicycle, she looked in all possible places until she got a florist in Kisementi who could make her one. She also planned to sleep at a friend’s house near the church so that she would beat time for church.
As for the bridegroom, the hustle of getting all he needed for his day wasn’t as hectic. He had a friend with a boutique in Wandegeya from whom he was able to get suits for himself and the best man, shirts and shoes. He also had a motorcycle with which he could move around.
Ordinarily, couples have bridal cars rented for their big day but that was never the case for the Besimbires. Permits from the RDC’s office had to be got for everyone who was going to use a car to come to the wedding.
“I went to the RDC and got permits for the best man and matron’s cars. Faith also had a car that was going to bring her to church, so I got a permit for that too as well as one for the cameraman and videographer. We failed to get permits for her parents because they live in Mityana and the RDC couldn’t give them one, so her father had to use a motorcycle to come for the wedding,” Julius shares.
So in attendance from the bride’s side was her father, brother and close friend. The groom, on the other hand, had his two small boys, his dad, sister and a close friend. His senior pastor – Fred Wantante of Full Gospel Church, Makerere and his wife, these, including the best man and matron, cameramen and videographers and a DJ brought the total to 15 people.
Walking down the aisle
In the church, the wedding was broadcast live on the church television – Gugudde TV, which gave the couple peace that at least their friends and family who were not physically present were watching them walk down the aisle.
As for the reception, one can only imagine what walking into a big hall with only 15 people around felt like. Faith gives us a glimpse… In the hall, they had a number of tables, each a good distance from the other. On each 10 seater table, there were only two people and though there was ‘Kaluulu’ – (ululation) and it felt good because they had decided in their heart of hearts to do this, a lot was missed.
“I, for example, imagined how it would have been if my colleagues had been around… the group dancing that we normally do when we attend colleague’s parties… the cheering and all. Though there was dancing, but dancing with 15 people isn’t the same as dancing with 200 people celebrating together with you,” she says.
To Julius, the picture couldn’t be better. The touch of uniqueness that everything had got him over the moon. “Everything was stress-free in terms of finance and my wife was very smart. The place was not crowded and there was not much noise, so I liked how peaceful it was,” he says.
The reception started at 1 pm, with lunch followed by speeches. What stood out for them in this session was that apart from the camera crew and DJ, everyone who attended gave a speech. This was followed by a photoshoot at the same venue and by 3:30, everything was done, and everyone seen off to beat curfew time.
With many honeymoon destinations on lockdown, the couple only had one night at Fairway Hotel and went back home the next day.
Whereas some people might never forget the negative toll this pandemic has had on their lives, Julius, on the other hand, will always remember the great milestone he was able to reach in the same season. From the word go, the couple knew it was not going to be easy and Julius only has words of appreciation: to his wife for accepting to go through with the wedding, for his friends for their continued support, prayers and encouragement. As for Faith, words are not enough to thank her parents for their flexibility, knowing that the introduction ceremony meant a lot to them.
“Marriage is between a man and a woman, and not about the numbers, so I would advise people who have their occasions during this pandemic not to postpone, but also for parents to make it simple for their children,” Julius points out.
Faith also adds that the most important thing is that you have your marriage officiated now. After the quarantine, you can invite more people and have a bigger party with everyone around.