Monday, 10 May 2010

A Ugandan wedding

I had the privilege of attending a Ugandan give away and wedding this weekend. I was invited by my old landlord, and it was their son that was getting married. I thought I'd share some pictures (if they load) so you can see what one looks like.

A Ugandan wedding consists of three ceremonies (these can be condensed into two to save money but that didn't happen in this case). There is the introduction, where the bride and groom's families meet officially for the first time, but every communication is made through a mediator. This is when the bride price is set (usually a number of cows) that the groom's family must gift to the bride's family. For this family this happened back in December. The next one is the giveaway, which is the traditional wedding, and it is when the bride is given to the groom's family. A large number of people stop here and live as a married couple until they can organise a church wedding, but this family had it the day before the church wedding. They all consist mostly of entertainment and speeches. The giveaway is hosted by the bride's family and the wedding is hosted by the groom's family, so each side bears the weight of the cost.


This is the groom's family and friends waiting to be invited into the giveaway ceremony. We waited about an hour in total (told to delay 1 hour before leaving and then another 5 mins when we arrived at the location) and had to pair up and enter in a line all together. This meant our journey was much longer than necessary, as we had to keep stopping and waiting for more people so we could all enter together. We each had a rose pinned on us as our invitation to enter the ceremony.


These are some of the dancers we watched while waiting for the bride to enter. There were two dance groups and many, many costume changes! Behind them is the bride's family, and to the right is the tent of honour, where the bride and her entourage came to sit after they arrived.


This is the bride and her bridesmaids as they enter the ceremony. They missed most of it, arriving 3 hours after us (we arrived three hours after it started). They had waiting in the house just next to where everything was going on, and had to be invited into the ceremony as well. I think she actually looked more beautiful at the giveaway in this outfit than in her white dress the next day. The great photo was taken by Deborah, the groom's 13 year old sister. It's much less conspicuous to send a little girl to stand right in front of the important people and take pictures!


This was after the church wedding, which was pretty much the same as a British Anglican wedding (it took place in the Anglican Cathedral), and was very pretty. I don't think I've ever seen so many bridesmaids and groomsmen though!


After 5 hours (!) of driving around town taking photos and eating dinner, the bridal party arrived at the reception. The first thing they did was to cut the ribbon and walk through the archway, symbolising unlocking the door of their first home and entering together. The little girl the white dress next to the groom is NOT the bride, she's the flower girl! I didn't have the best angle to catch the bride in the photo, see if you can spot her.


They then walked down a white carpet to their chosen song, while we cheered and waved and they waved back.

Before they arrived there was lots of waiting around, with the reception starting at around 4 rather than 1 as planned (apparently a lot of weddings are actually surprisingly well timed and would usually only start an hour or so late, so this was a surprise). We watched dancers and listened to speeches while waiting for the bride and groom to arrive. After they did, we had more dancing and more speeches, as well as the cake cutting. My jobs were ushering people in (they were very happy when I greeted them in orunyankore - I had been practicing!) and spraying silly string at the bride and groom as they cut the cake!

One of the most interesting parts of the reception was after the cake cutting, when the bride and groom fed each other a piece of cake and some soda (it was a Christian wedding which here means no alcohol). This represented how they would care for each other and support each other. Isn't that lovely?

Unfortunately, as it had run on so late, a lot of people left before the reception ended. This was understandable, as there was a lot of waiting around and speeches introducing everyone and everyone who had come! I admit I would have left early too, but didn't realise that my second job (the silly string) took place AFTER the speeches. Better planning needed next time in what I agree to do!

I hope this has been culturally educational for you all! There are more photos over on facebook if you want to see a few more, but a lot of them are me and the kids entertaining ourselves through the looong waits and speeches by taking silly photos of ourselves.

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