Weddings in Uganda are an all-day affair. In case you get invited and wonder, "I wonder how long a wedding is in Uganda?" All day. Long as it was, it was a really really really cool experience. To be invited at all is a tremendous priviledge...to get a cake to take home is an even greater priviledge! I'll explain later.
As far as tradition goes, the wedding and reception is very much like weddings in America, with a few differences. First, Pastor Paul arrived and everyone cheered and yelled and applauded. Then it was about twenty minutes of worship, waiting for the bride to arrive. Once she did, all the women out in front of the church, cheered and yelled and applauded, letting everyone inside know that the bride has arrived! It was cool. She (Margaret) had a large wedding party complete with the cutest flower girls you've ever seen. And walking down the aisle...well nobody walks down the aisle in Africa! They dance and sway, slowly...very slowly making their way down the aisle to take their seat opposite the groom. It was a cool feeling as I listened to the crowd scream, dance, cheer, yell, dance, scream, cheer and yell. It really reminded me of what that day will be like when the Bridegroom (Jesus) is presented with His perfect Bride (The Church). It's gonna be a lot of screaming, dancing, cheering, and yelling! The service was beautiful and Pastor Scott, who had the priviledge of officiating, did a fantastic job. Everything went off without a hitch and it was on to pictures!
We were invited to be in some of the pictures as we made our way to the source of the Nile. It was fun to watch Pastor Paul, who is usually pretty serious and very very quiet, come alive with his new bride. He's smiled more today than I've ever seen him smile.
We came back to the church for the wedding reception. Again, it's similar to our traditions with a few differences. Once the bride and groom cut the cake, the bride puts pieces of the cake into a basket and serves the groom's family. The groom does the same with the bride's family. It's a beautiful picture of thanks and servanthood. Then we are all served by the bridal party. Another tradition that was fun: At some point, the bride slipped away to change into a new dress. Paul, then slipped away and disguised himself and hid among the people in the audience. The bride came back to find her groom missing! So then she begins to go with the help of some bridesmaids all through the audience, looking for her groom. It's fun for the audience, because Paul slipped away without us knowing, so we don't know where he is either! And it's fun to greet the bride as she makes her way through your section of the audience. And it's fun to watch her find her husband, as they greeted each other with smiles and loving eyes. It's a cool tradition. I liked that. Then people brought all their gifts and left them at the feet of the bride and groom. Brightly colored boxes, wrapping paper, vases, goats and chickens. The goats and chickens were my favorite part. Next time someone complains about their wedding gifts and how nobody even looked at the registry, just remember...you could have gotten a goat.