Saturday April 5 2014

Their wedding cost more than a billion shillings

Mr and Mrs Ntaganda. Courtesy photo

Mr and Mrs Ntaganda. Courtesy photo 

By Abdulaziizi K. Tumusiime

How did the two of you meet?
Monica: My cousin was married to Ephraim’s uncle. In my Senior Six vacation I was living with my cousin’s family. Ephraim used to visit. It is there that we met for the first time. We liked each other. Over time we started dating. We dated for about a year. In 2004, I introduced him to my parents in Kigali. 12 years later he walked me down the aisle.

When was the wedding?
Monica: On December 21, 2013. That date is our lastborn’ s ( Michelle’s) birthday. We thought it was awesome to celebrate our anniversary on the same day with our daughter’s birthday.

Did you have a wedding planner?
Monica: There is a woman we had hired at the start of the wedding preparations. However, along the way she did not meet our expectations. Her pace was slow and she did not seem to bring anything unique to the table. So we laid her off and passed on her responsibilities to selected friends from a committee we had set up. In a nutshell, the wedding was planned by Ephraim and I, plus members of the organising committee.

Where was the venue of the wedding?
Monica: Speke Resort Munyonyo, in the gardens by the lakeside. We expected over 2,000 people (indeed that is the number that turned up), so we had to get a venue that was big enough to accommodate such a large number of guests. Only Munyonyo had the kind of space we wanted. Besides, our friend Dr Sudhir Ruparelia had offered us a venue as one of his contributions towards our wedding. So there was no way we would have chosen any other place other than Speke Resort Munyonyo.

Where were you wedded?
Monica: At St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe.

How much did you spend on the day?
We spent about Shs1.5b.
How did you raise the amount?
We had our personal savings, but over 80 per cent of our budget was covered by friends. They were very generous to us. We had only three wedding meetings but they were enough to raise all that amount. You can imagine on our first wedding meeting we raised Shs500m in pledges and Shs200m in cash
Did all your priority guests attend?
No. There are some who did not. For a reason that I cannot explain they did not receive their cards yet we had assigned people to deliver them. It is only after the wedding that I inquired from these friends who did not attend that they informed about not getting the invitation cards.

Did any of you influence the other in the choice of their outfit?
Monica: No. All we did was advise each other on the choices of the clothes we made.

What was so memorable about your day?
Monica: Almost everything went on as planned. You know when you are planning for an event such as a wedding, you have it at the back of your mind that things may not go according to the script. But to my pleasant surprise, almost everything did. I was also blown away by the dedication and zeal with which the wedding committee members played their roles.

Did you have any disappointments?
Monica: Maybe a few negligible hiccups. For example, the grand glasses that we were to use to serve each other –with drinks after cutting the cake – were forgotten in the car. Actually, they were in my car. But we improvised and got similarly good replacements.

When you look back is there anything that you wished you could change?
Monica: I would only ensure that we would receive and distribute our invitation cards earlier. We received the cards a week to the wedding day. This was really late. That is why there were some hitches in giving them out, such as some people not getting theirs.

Did you have any worries running through your mind on the day?
Monica: Yes I did. I had been to some weddings where the food and drinks are not enough for the guests. I was worried that ours would also suffer the same misfortune. But glory be to God, the eats and drinks were more than enough. In fact, repeated calls were made for those who wished to go for the second round to do so.
My second worry was about being disappointed by the artistes we had invited to perform. But, thank God, too, they all arrived in time and performed to our expectations.

What did you consider in selecting the entertainers for your big day?
Monica: We considered the age group and the class categories of people that were invited. I will give you an example; we had Radio & Weasel plus Remah Namakula, these were more appealing to the youthful guests; Nameless from Kenya was pleasing for our guests who did not prefer the local artistes; Judith Babirye was majorly for the born again people in attendance. We made sure that everyone was entertained. Other performers were Angella Kalule, Natasha Sinayobye’s group, there was also a cultural troupe from Rwanda.

Did you manage time?
Yes we did. We had two efficient time keepers who did a very good job. They ensured that we were up very early on the d-day. I was picked from home at 5am. I was at the Salon before 5.30am. By 7pm we were out of the salon. Generally, everything was done on time. The wedding party ended at 5am and people were still around and energetic.

Did you go for honeymoon immediately?
Monica: No. We rested for a day (Sunday) at Munyonyo. On the next day, we set off with our entire family for the honeymoon. We went to Dubai and California. We spent three weeks on honeymoon.

Did you import any of the things you used? If so, why?
Monica: Yes. Everything I wore on the day was imported. For example, I imported my gown from France. The flowers we used for decoration were imported from Nairobi. There are a couple of the materials we used for decoration which were also imported. The cards were imported from Dubai. The wedding bands were also imported from Dubai. The reason we imported these things was because we did not like what we saw around.

What did you consider in choosing the bridesmaids?
Monica: I chose people who are both relatives and friends. I considered folk whom I would be comfortable with and who would also blend in with us (the bride and groom). I also looked out for ladies who would be inspired by the proceedings of the day. I did not want to choose someone who would simply enjoy without picking a lesson from the events of the day.

What do you like about Ephraim?
He is very understanding. He is jolly and has a good sense of humour. He is intelligent, hardworking and motivating. He loves me as much as he loves the family. His family comes first in all that he does.

What advice would you give to any couple that wants to have a wedding like your own?
Monica: They should be patient. I waited for 12 years to have such a wedding. For anybody, that was a long wait but when the fruits of my patience yielded, they were worthwhile. I don’t think that my wedding would have been more marvellous if it had taken place earlier. So patience is important.
Before calling people for wedding meetings, the couple should first draw their own budget which they are sure they can fund. People’s contributions should not determine the type of wedding you will have or the possibility of the wedding taking place.

The day’s snippets

The cake
The cake cost Shs17m. It had 34 tiers. The couple also had 100 cakes which they gave out to different people.

Theme colour
It was a black and white affair. Monica opted for these because the colours are neutral and can blend with any other colours easily.

The rings
The wedding rings cost USD 7,000(about Shs 17m) each. The pricey gems were imported from Dubai.