‘Marrying your best friend is a blessing’

The couple says it is good to trust that your partner has your best interests at heart. Photo | Joan Salmon

What you need to know:

  • Jonathan and Tonia got married on December 31, 2022. But their journey started way back in primary school when they developed a friendship that has lasted to date. They say being best friends makes trust and communication; some of the most important aspects of any marriage, easy.

Dressed in a flowing white gown while he, in a grey suit, Jonathan and Tonia Ssempa were all smiles knowing that their friendship that had started in primary school at Greenhill Academy in 2005 had finally led them to this; their wedding day. Although they had separated in high school, Namilyango College for Jonathan and Marymount International School in Rome, Italy for Tonia, the two remained close. 

During childhood, Jonathan says, Tonia was quite fun and welcoming. On the other hand, Tonia says, Jonathan was friendly and always attended her birthday parties.

“Because we had been friends since primary school, even when we were separated during high school, it was easy to keep in touch.  We were each other’s go-to person and we would share our unique yet somewhat similar experiences about Uganda and Italy,” the couple says.

When asked what makes Tonia an amazing person, Jonathan says she is loving and a fun person to be around. She also has a smile that brightens up a room.

Tonia on the other hand says Jonathan is kind, caring, always there for her and easy to communicate with.

Falling in love

While at university, Jonathan realised that the feelings he had for Tonia went beyond just a friendship and he could not imagine losing her to someone else.

“One day, I came across a Yoruba proverb which says, ‘A man who hangs around a woman without stating his intentions will fetch water at her wedding.’ I could not let this happen since losing her to another man would haunt me for life. Even though she was still abroad studying, I told her how I felt and that I would wait for her,” he says.

While Jonathan’s mind was set, Tonia was still undecided about her future.

“However, when Jonathan told me he would wait for me no matter what, I knew fate was bringing us together. It did not take me long to know, without a doubt that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” she says.

In 2019, Tonia returned home and it was beautiful to know that there was someone special, save family waiting for her.


While courtship is about getting to know each other better, it sometimes causes tension in a relationship. For some, it may be the end of the road. For Jonathan and Tonia, the main challenge was the distance.

“Now that it is behind us, we can smile about it but it was not easy. It took commitment and being intentional about making time for each other,” Tonia shares.


The Ssempa’s love travelling and in January 2022, they had planned their annual trip to a beautiful secluded place overlooking the source of the Nile. The goal was to reflect on the year gone by and envision how they wanted their 2022 to start and progress. The two agreed to write down their year’s goals and Tonia took the task seriously. She had no idea Jonathan had other plans.

“When I looked up from the book, he was on one knee with this beautiful ring asking me to marry him. I was so shocked and surprised that the first words out of my mouth sounded like gibberish. I then stood up and hugged him, overwhelmed with emotion,” she says, adding that after calming down, she accepted his proposal. To her, it was the perfect proposal; just the two of them and, she had not seen it coming.

Preparations for their wedding day started in earnest and one of the first items to tick off the to-do list was premarital counselling. This started immediately at the Uganda Martyrs Minor Basilica, in Munyonyo, Kampala, and would last 13 weeks. Jonathan says the most important advice that he took away from their counselling sessions was to listen to his wife.

“I do not just hear her, but listen and act accordingly. Nobody has my back like she does and God will always communicate to me through her,” he says.

Tonia on the other hand learnt that marriage is forever; so why not make your marriage something that brings joy and happiness?


Tonia introduced Jonathan to her family and friends on Saturday December 17, 2022 in Kigoogwa Village in central Uganda. They later exchanged vows on Saturday December 31, 2022, at the Uganda Martyrs Minor Basilica in Munyonyo, then hosted their guests at Kawuku Bunga by the lake.

Advice to other couples

This being their first year of marriage, the couple says they are using their time to enjoy each other’s company. The Ssempas say the magic is in two words; trust and communication.

They believe it is always good trust that your partner has your best interests at heart and to communicate any doubts with them first.

Jonathan adds that getting married to your friend is a beautiful experience, but getting married to your best friend is a blessing.