By Desire Mbabaali
I have come to believe that marriage, or at least “getting into marriage” shouldn’t be made complicated by a wedding. I now know it is possible that this can be made simple because I have been there. On February 2, 2020, my husband and I performed a kukyala, kwanjula and wedding at a go.
Jimmy Kwagala Kabunga, my husband, and I met through a mutual friend. Whereas I didn’t know about his existence, he knew about mine because that friend had kept mentioning me to him, though it wasn’t even in regards to a relationship. Jimmy had been looking for someone to help share Biblical teachings online with him. Because our mutual friend knew that we were both Christians, and I was one of the teachers at my church, he connected us to each other.
From that point, we started communicating and sharing teachings. Soon after, we would ask each other questions about our personal lives and interests. A friendship was struck.
We gradually discovered we had a lot in common in terms of character and interests. He was just more sympathetic and patient than I probably am.
Around the same time, he expressed his interest in me, but I turned him down.
At the time, marriage or even a relationship wasn’t on my priority list. Our mutual friend and his wife talked to me about Jim’s interests but I would just brush it off. However, there is something intriguing about someone who just never gives up. Gradually, I felt that I needed to seriously consider his proposal, so I took it to God (those of you who are Christians know what I am talking about) and my spiritual father and finally, my mother, and a few trusted friends. After months, I had my answer and conviction. It was a “yes”.
That said, I didn’t get your usual proposal where he drops to the knee and asks for your hand in marriage, no. My Jim would propose to me almost every day, and it was more like a plea than a proposal. When I finally said yes, he was over the moon.
What I liked most and among the reasons I said yes was that my husband knew what he wanted. He made his intentions clear from the word go, and that had always been my kind of person. So, the decision to tie the knot was left to me, anytime I was ready. So once I was ready, I said yes.
I used to tell people that I will never have a “normal” wedding as we know it but they would brush it off as me being childish. But that was the truth. I do not like being in the spotlight, and when it came to my function, I wanted it as simple as can be. Luckily enough, my husband would say time and again as we were planning everything, that whatever I wanted, was what we would do. Originally, we had thought about having a wedding party (that would include me not wearing a wedding gown or my husband a suit) to include everyone, but that didn’t settle well with us.
Finally, a friend who had been instrumental in this process got an idea. “Can’t you have a kukyala, kwanjula and a wedding at the same time?” When we talked about it, we just said, “Why not?”
Because we wanted to handle all these at once, we decided to have very few family members and friends. Subsequently, only a few people learned about our marriage. Some are still unhappy they weren’t invited.
Organising the kukyala
When it came to planning the day, our families already knew we wanted to go small and simple. We also thought it would be fair to have kukyala on both sides of our families. First, we had a visit to his family in Masaka. That included his immediate family members and a few of mine. After a week, on February 2, we had another at my family home.
A few additions
Simple is my thing, so I thought I would have everything very simplified, but my friends wouldn’t hear of it. Before I knew it, they were advising me on decor, photography, and a few other things I hadn’t thought I would need. We planned to have a total of 50 people, have lunch together, and a short service therein, where our spiritual leaders and parents would give us their blessing and commission us into marriage.
How the day went
The groom and his people arrived at 2pm, as they had said and were welcomed straight into the house. We had a few family members in their different categories greeting and welcoming them before I came in with a few friends to also greet and welcome them.
After that, we all had lunch. I came back in again, and we had speeches from my mum, and a few other family members from both sides. Here, proper introductions of the people present were made. I was then asked to officially introduce my husband to all people, which I did. We afterwards had a short sermon followed by a commissioning session into marriage by spiritual leaders and parents, a gifting session and a photo moment before we saw everyone off at 5pm.
For a spiritual blessing, we exchanged vows before our people in church two weeks later while attending a normal church service at Anointed Christian Healing Ministries. There, we got our marriage certificate.
The church service was on February 16. We had already organised with the church leaders and asked them to have us exchange our vows on that Sunday. We only have one service at my church, from 7:30 am to 10 am, and everything was as normal as can be. We came to church like the rest of the people, attended the service, and after the preaching, the leader told the congregation that we wanted to exchange our vows. Only a few people at church knew that was going to happen because we hadn’t announced it. We also didn’t give any special invitations even to family members (well, my mother was around but that was also because we go to the same church, so she knew about it).
We were called to the front, and then came the funniest part… my husband didn’t know he had to say his own personalised vows. When the person leading us asked him to, he was very surprised and the first thing he said was, “…I don’t know how I am going to go about this but…” and then the rest of his vows were more like a conversation.
My turn was simpler because I knew that for the most part, my church doesn’t have specific vows it asks couples to make, so I was more ready.
Our families (although not all members) were really accepting of the idea, considering how divergent it was from the normal.
Right from the word go, we didn’t want to bother anyone with budgets. On my side, a few close friends and family volunteered some support which covered about 15 per cent of the total budget. The rest, we funded from our savings. In total we used about Shs7m for all the functions.
My advice to people is that they should know what they want and go for it. You might have to make a few adjustments and compromises here and there, but don’t lose sight of the main picture. Also, if possible, fund your own function because then, you wield more authority than when you are at other people’s mercy.
Jimmy’s comments on why they chose this path
I expressed interest in having her [Desire Mbabaali] as a wife to our mutual friend, but he adamantly refused me to even dare try it. He knew how strict and particular and unapproachable sweet Desire was. He knew she would never accept me, but my mind and convictions were made up that she was the one so I went ahead to tell her how I felt and like my friend had predicted, she said no. However, persistence made me a victor.
We both had the understanding that marriage is between two people who have consented. From the two, then comes the parents’ blessing, which we got and the blessing from spiritual leaders. The difference is we had all these at the kukyala.