By Promise Twinamukye
Hughes Opio, an accountant at Broll Uganda Limited met Rita Ainembabazi, a human resource officer met at a Scripture Union farewell party at Kira Country Resort in 2015. Hughes coordinated the party as they were both completing the third year at Makerere University Business School, Nakawa.
Rita was only nudged by a mutual friend who turned out to be Hughes’s friend too, to attend the party. During social hour, she took a plunge in the pool with friends since it is her favourite sport. Hughes followed and she asked if he would like swimming lessons.
“He promised to give it a try. He is a smart guy and what took three to four days for others to master, Hughes did it in a day. Maybe he just had the wrong coaches,” Rita says.
After the party, Hughes gave Rita his number since his phone had blacked out, trusting her to text or call soon. She texted that night and the first reply from Opio was, “Hi Princess,” a title he has addressed her by to date. Then, he attended her Father’s birthday party, work trips, film dates, surprise birthday trip for her, and swimming outings.
Four years later, Hughes always wanted everything perfect for his princess. However, Rita occasionally asked him when he would pop the question, to which he would reply, “soon”.
“Since it could not happen at our friend, Nicholas Ssevume’s wedding, I had to make a surprise of it. We hatched the plan as Nicholas was on his honeymoon.
Rita prepared her own proposal party, thinking it was their friends’ thanksgiving (since it was a guise that would take long to see through).
Curiously, she asked if there was going to be any financial contribution, but they told her to just call friends to attend the party.
Most of these had attended Nicholas’ wedding to avoid suspicion. Hughes had already made a custom ring.
When she entered the room on the D-day, her eyes fell on Hughes’ poem about their journey together. She stopped as tears started rolling down her cheeks.
They told her to read the poem and she complied. Towards the end of the poem, Rita was interrupted by Hughes going on one knee.
“I was anxious from the previous night. I knew the ring would fit, the function was going to be perfect, I somehow knew she would say yes, but still my heart raced. Even as I said, “will you marry me?” my voice shook,” Hughes recalls.
“I had always waited for that moment. Everyone around us thought we had spent about 10 years together. When he finally popped the question, I said yes. I was happy that he had finally proposed,” Rita recounts.
The couple had a successful introduction and kuhingira. While Rita wanted all hat to be as quick as possible and Hughes wanted to fund their functions and rely less on others.
“She wanted it in December, which month was not suitable since almost everyone travels in that month in my family. January was not the best either because the finances are not that good. But we ended up having the kukyaala on January 25,” Hughes says.
Everything went on smoothly and on that day, a wedding date was fixed on August 8, the bride’s birthday.
Since they both studied at MUBS, they decided it was easier to wed at St Padre Pio, the MUBS community church.
“Since I am Anglican and did not want to convert, we had to seek guidance from the priest. He told us what we needed to do but also told me to go back and think about our future and the future of our children,” Rita says. The children would be Catholics just as their father and that was settled. Just before their premarital counselling sessions, Covid-19 and guidelines set in; public and private transport were stopped, churches and gatherings banned. They could not go for sessions anymore.
What hurt almost everyone looked like a blessing in disguise for her aunt.
“She called me and suggested a scientific wedding because she had seen many people do it and they turned out just fine. She based it on a couple who had used Shs300,000 for the whole wedding,” Rita explains
Hughes did not agree to bringing the date closer because he had to work and it would be difficult to keep up. And he had already paid for their reception.
“I later gave in to her demands and we pulled scheduled July 5. I wanted it to fall on her birthday but she had to first call the priest to confirm,” Hughes says. The priest said it was okay, as long as they did not change their mind again.
Premarital counselling was then rescheduled to May and by May 13, they did the sessions on phone twice a week. The priest would send them reading materials and YouTube videos to learn more.
“I learnt that divorce is not an option and I had the responsibility of leading my husband to God. I also learnt that in marriage, the decisions I make affect both of us,” Rita says. Hughes learnt that committing their relationship to God was important and Rita would be his responsibility after the wedding.
Instead of the initial 100 guests they reduced the guest list to 30. Before the wedding, the bride’s mother had to warn them not to spend a lot of time taking pictures because of the mandatory curfew.
On July 5, they were wedded at St Padre Pio chapel of St Charles Lwanga MUBS community by the Rev Fr Ivan P.B Kalamuzi.
“I prayed for my father to witness my marriage. He walked me down the aisle.”
Hughes took a deep sigh when Ritah’s brother handed her to him at the altar.
“The wait was finally over,” Hughes says.
They proceeded to Silver Springs Hotel for their reception whose colour theme was forest green inspired by nature and a touch of gold and white.
“My wife thrilled me with a dance presentation for me at our reception,” Hughes says.
The couple could not stop talking about the poem the father of the groom presented to them as a gift. It is now leans on the wall beside the TV set in their sitting room.
Hughes, a basketball player could not miss a photo shoot at the basketball court.
To keep their marriage interesting, Hughes says that he still treats her as though they are still dating. I still give her random gifts, texts and we take random walks too.
Rita says that they talk about everything and nothing. They also spend time together.
After the reception, the couple retired to Commonwealth resort in Munyonyo for their honeymoon. They used Sh17m instead of the initial Sh40m.