By Maria Immaculate Owechi
On February 27, 2020, Joshua Amani Achillah, 32, a social worker, announced on his Facebook page, his plans to tie the knot with his fiancée Jesca Anyaku, 25, a clinical officer. Joshua’s page was soon filled with lots of congratulatory messages from friends and family who expressed their eagerness to witness their big day.
Little did the couple know, however, that the following month, the outbreak of the coronavirus would lead to an adjustment of their wedding plans. But even with lockdown, the Achillahs say since they didn’t want to postpone their originally planned wedding dates, they decided to adjust to the scientific guidelines. And so on Friday June 26, 2020, Joshua and Jesca had a lovely wedding ceremony, following the standards of procedure set, at Deliverance Church, Nsambya.
How they met
The couple got to know each other because they happen to work together at an NGO called New Hope Uganda, based in Luweero District. They both joined the organisation in 2017.
“We also lived in the same area code, prayed together and were in the singles fellowship too,” Joshua reveals. “We became good friends in 2018 and our friendship grew gradually onwards.”
He continues to share that what drew him to Jesca was the fact that she is passionate about the things of God.
“She wanted everything we did and said to be centered on Christ,” Joshua reveals.
Jesca in turn says her husband’s love for God, family, people, his sense of humor, the continued yearning to grow in the word, and his knowledge attracted her to him.
Joshua reveals that after praying and seeking counsel, he decided to ask Jesca to get into a relationship with him, leading to marriage.
“I had shared with my family about my interest in her and they prayed with me,” he says adding, “I later asked them to help me pick a quiet spot in town where I could propose to my wife.”
Joshua then invited his wife under the guise of celebrating his Christian birthday (he got saved on Easter Sunday but the invite was done the day before Easter, on April 20, 2019).
“She came expecting a party or cake and there I was nervous, where I shared my desire to spend the rest of my life with her,” he reveals.
Jesca was in shock and then asked for some time to think and pray about it. The answer later came on June 15, 2019. Jesca organised a big surprise where she asked him out to celebrate their birthdays.
“The cake had a yes to my proposal and then happy birthday,” he shares. “She also wore a T-shirt with a message saying yes she would be married to me, it was so beautiful.”
Joshua then gave his newfound fiancée an engagement ring and also went on one knee.
He adds that they were later announced as a couple intending to wed, at their local church and at the organisation where they work.
The wedding ceremonies
When it came to the first of the traditional ceremonies, Joshua said they had a small and intimate kukyala ceremony in February this year at the home of Jesca’s family.
“It was just basically Joshua’s family members, my family of majorly two ssengas and me. Our introduction then took place later on Thursday June 25, 2020 in Entebbe at the home of my brother, who is my father-figure,” Jesca says. The bride price, she says, was open, so Joshua’s family chose to give them three cows and four goats plus gomesis and kanzus.
The following day, Friday, the couple proceeded with exchanging their vows at Deliverance Church, Nsambya with about 10 people in attendance. The next day, Saturday 27, June, 2020, they had the wedding celebration with both a service and reception at City Royal Resort hotel, Bugolobi. This was witnessed by few family members, church people and friends.
“We had to cut down the guest list of 400 plus people to less than 40 people,” Joshua says. “It was very difficult as we had so many people we would have loved to be part of this important day of our lives.”
The groom says they ended up with a guest list of family, spiritual leaders and friends’ representatives.
For their entourage, Jesca says they had previously planned for a wedding party of 10 people including them but because of the lock-down measures, they opted out for only matron and best man.
Jesca admits that it was hard to mobilise people to raise funds because of the lockdown measures, so they had to rely on social media.
“We had to also form several committees to help us do that, for which most of mine, pulled out with no reason which left us disappointed,” she reveals.
Coordinating their service providers who were in Kampala, yet they were based in Luweero wasn’t easy either. What the couple did was to mostly utilise the service providers they knew and those recommended by friends.
“The good thing is that some were willing to offer us services at a reduced cost because of the situation at hand, for example Posh Avenue Designs which did my decoration,” Jesca states.
And because of what the country was going through, they ensured to observe the social distance seating arrangement for their ceremonies.
They also provided water for washing hands and sanitisers for their guests. Each of their guests carried their own masks to the ceremony.
Jesca wore a unique body hugging gown designed with African fabric at the bottom. This was because she had always wanted to be out of the ordinary and skip the norm.
“We wanted an African themed wedding right from the start, right from the cake through the decoration and our dressing,” she shares. “So, I got a few ideas from pinterest and shared them with the fashion designer, Abba Bridals and Rafael Designs who incorporated the idea.”
Jesca adds that she opted for no changing dress because she loved her gown so much and it could work for both the wedding ceremony and reception. Her natural hair was done by Aifaz Makeup Studios and Joanmimi Faces did her makeup.
The couple were happy that their wedding day despite the Covid-19 situation and the lockdown, had finally come. It was a day of celebration and emotion as well. As they made their speeches, the two got emotional, thanking especially their families for raising them. Joshua was adopted into the Achillah family who raised him as their own, while Jesca was raised by a single mother and her brother and it wasn’t easy for them. They were grateful to everyone who had stood with them to that point.
Joshua and Jesca say they went for their honeymoon to a nice place but unfortunately, both fell sick with typhoid and malaria at the same time. Joshua says it wasn’t easy but they still enjoyed their time together.
“Being sick taught us to look after each other and it bonded us as we had recited our vows as in sickness and in health indeed,” Joshua says.
The two say they learnt from premarital counselling, that they both need each other every minute of every day in their lives.
“Earthly marriage is a picture to reflect Christ and the church, so it’s all about God’s glory and gospel business. The way we live out our lives as marrieds preaches to the rest of the world out there. The ministry of the family comes before any other ministry, pastoring a church inclusive,” they share.
To the couples out there who seek to tie the knot, the Achillahs advise them to centre their relationship on God for guidance.
Jesca also notes that everything should be all about God and to stay pure because it’s easier to abstain while single than while in the dating period, more so when almost getting married.