A Ugandan engagement and wedding can be a lengthy affair.
First there is a meeting between the groom and the bride’s parent/guardians. He asks permission to marry the girl and negotiations for the dowry begins. Once they agree on the dowry—depending and the girl’s education and domestic abilities—thus her worth—the process is set in motion. The groom needs to find a way to purchase the cows, goats and other gifts demanded by the bride’s family.
When he has collected the gifts there is an introduction party where he presents the dowry to the family, pays for a party with all the relatives and everyone celebrates that the two will be married.
Finally there is an elaborate church wedding. Friends and family contribute clothing, food, money, etc to help with the expense. (We don’t see a lot of formal weddings because most cannot come up with the dowry payments let alone the wedding expenses—so many live together as husband and wife without the recognized ceremony).
Andrew asked Robert to be his best man—thus making his wedding an international wedding.
The day of the wedding Frida, the bride, arrived at our hotel early in the morning where Bonnie and Wendy waited to dress her in a gorgeous gown that had been worn by Wendy’s daughter at her wedding in the US.
Andrew and his groomsmen appeared and were ushered into Robert and Rachel’s room where Rachel tied their ties and Donna fastened their bouteniers and made certain they were looking sharp.
Andrew and his groomsmen left for the church first. Our team piled into a bus and followed. Once we were seated with the other guests the men made their entrance. As they marched slowly down the aisle guests cheered, sang and danced around them. Once they were seated there was much more singing and dancing until the bride and her attendants showed up. Wild shrieks erupted from the crowd as everyone leaped to their feet to welcome the bride. They tossed rose petals at her—danced before her as she attempted the long, slow walk down the aisle.
Then the second bridal party entered. We were not aware it was to be a double wedding and they procedure began again as we welcomed Josephine and her groom and wedding party.
We sat through a sermon, two sets of wedding vows and other rituals. After four and one half to five hours both couples were presented as man and wife. Then the bishop took the opportunity to take an offering for the church and released the brides, grooms and all the guests to separate receptions.
Before leaving for Andrew’s reception in the jungle a torrential rain soaked the earth—creating mud and puddles for vehicles to struggle through on the dirt paths leading to the home of Andrew’s parents. Cars were slipping and sliding—some getting stuck in the deep ruts. Those who walked rolled up their pant legs; hiked their dresses and removed their shoes tramping through the mud and water to the reception.
The weather didn’t dampen spirits or hinder hundreds from showing up to celebrate and eat a meal with the bride and groom.