Busoga Royal wedding service providers’ experiences

James Lubinga of Paramount Images Studio directing the king, Gabula Nadiope and his Inhebantu Jovia Mutesi during their wedding

What you need to know:

  • A journey of faith. Last Saturday marked a historic moment as Ugandans bore witness to the first Busoga royal wedding in over 50 years. The sacred matrimony between Kyabazinga William Gabula Nadiope and Inebantu Jovia Mutesi unfolded in a grand ceremony hosted at Christ’s Cathedral in Bugembe, Jinja City. A lavish reception at Igenge Palace followed the regal event. A week later, Patrick Ssentongo dives behind the scenes to uncover the meticulous planning and the artisans who contributed their craftsmanship to make this union a momentous occasion.

Brenda Ssekabembe Mulema, 
Bake for Me

For many, the most elegant part of the reception is the wedding cake. Especially as it is a way for the couple to express themselves with a unique and beautiful element that takes centre stage amidst the various food offerings. Renowned baker Brenda Ssekabembe Mulema and her talented team at Bake For Me Limited created the cake for this royal wedding. Weighing a majestic 200 kg, the cake soared to impressive heights with ten tiers, standing tall at approximately 2.5 metres on a 6-foot-wide base.
The inspiration behind the cake was rooted in a desire to pay homage to Busoga as a kingdom. Securing the opportunity to create the cake was not a result of Brenda actively seeking it, but rather a testament to her renowned brand in the craft. Asked to provide a cake sample to the organising team, Brenda and her team embarked on a journey to understand the couple’s vision. Numerous ideas were explored, with the initial concept resembling the main palace in Igenge being discarded in favour of a more unique creation akin to a palace entrance.

Tasked with designing and presenting a 3D impression of the cake for approval, Brenda and her team successfully navigated this stage, and the rest, as they say, was history. Commencing work on the cake two months prior to the wedding allowed their fruit cakes to mature. “This enabled our fruit cakes to mature as they are like wine; the longer they stay, the finer,” notes Brenda.

The flavours infused into the cake, including peach, raspberry, blueberry, and coconut, were carefully sourced from various corners of the globe, including South Africa, Dubai, China, and the UK, all with unique touches. The bakery buzzed with excitement as the team brought their vision to life, with the final touches and decorations taking place in the week leading up to the wedding.
The finished masterpiece featured a king’s crown atop the highest tier, a palace-like curtain draping in the middle, a king chess piece design, two sets of balconies, and pillars at the bottom tier to evoke the ambiance of a palace building. Collaborating with the wedding decorators ensured seamless integration with the reception décor, enhancing the royal atmosphere of the day. The cake even spawned smaller side cakes, generously gifted to over 50 special guests of the royal couple.
The logistical challenge of transporting such a grand creation from Kampala to Jinja was met with meticulous planning. Brenda, having dealt with events of this magnitude before, had her drivers well-prepared. On the eve of the wedding, the cake began its journey to Jinja by truck, requiring the coordinated efforts of eight men during the unloading process.

Brenda, a seasoned professional, has previously provided her services at high-profile events, including those for the Kabaka of Buganda on four “Bulungi Bwa Nsi” occasions. Reflecting on her role in this royal wedding, she takes pride in the opportunity and recognises the gravity of the moment. With almost two decades of experience as the proprietor of Bake for Me Limited, Brenda Ssekabembe stands as a stalwart in the cake business.

Glam by Keith, Make-Up Artist

Glam by Keith, Make-Up Artist
We are well aware that Inhebantu Jovia Mutesi’s makeup artist, Keith, executed her flawless pre-wedding and wedding day looks, evident in the widespread photos. Inhebantu, a long-time client and friend of Keith’s, made the royal wedding particularly special for him. Reflecting on the emotional day, Keith remarks, “It was such an emotional day, and one I will never forget.”

The 21-year-old Keith Agaba, owner of Glam by Keith, shares that he knew Jovia before her official unveiling as the Queen of Busoga. He recalls their initial interaction when she urgently reached out for makeup services after discovering his contact details online. Jovia, having moved on from a previous makeup artist, sought Keith’s expertise for a more subtle and minimalistic look.

Keith embarked on their makeup journey, establishing rapport as he typically does with his clients. However, he realised Inhebantu was no ordinary client when he was denied permission to film or capture the session. Despite assurances of non-disclosure, bodyguards instructed him to delete all captured content.

Their second encounter occurred shortly before Jovia’s official unveiling as Inhebantu. She returned to Keith’s makeup shop at Yosef Mall in Kansanga, along Gaba Road, for the same kind of makeup. “This second make-up session I did with her is the one she had in the official portrait of her unveiling in a Gomesi,” he notes, saying he was mesmerised to learn his client was a queen in waiting.
Detailing their subsequent interactions, Keith narrates that their conversations solidified his role as the official makeup artist for her wedding.

When the time came for the wedding, Keith would later meet up with the queen for her make-up shortly before her pre-wedding shoot with the king. He once again did his magic on her. On how it was working with her now, knowing she is a queen, Keith says their earlier encounter boosted his confidence.

“She loves no heavy makeup. She did not want a liner below her eyes, but up. She loved red lips and lip gloss with simple, small lashes. Simple as that,” he says. Since they had a bond, Keith says he knew what to do and what to use. He did not take a lot of time to get her set for her pre-wedding shoot, showcasing his skills once again. Having established a bond, Keith notes that he understood Jovia’s preferences, making the preparation for the pre-wedding shoot efficient.

On the wedding day, Keith, accompanied by his assistants Teta Linda and Nnyanzi Praise, travelled to Jinja for the highly anticipated event. While his assistants worked on other members of the bridal party, Keith focused on the queen. Recounting the early start on the wedding day, he says, “We woke up very early at 5 a.m., and my team started working on the many other members as I waited on the queen, whom I started doing makeup on at 7 a.m.” He further elaborates on the products and brands he used, including Gabrini for primer, Black Opal for foundation, Born This Way for concealer, and a combination of Black Opal and Fenty for powder.

Explaining his choice of products, Keith mentions they were part of his new stock from a Sephora shop in New York, and Jovia agreed to try them. The church look was perfected, leaving only a simple retouch before the reception. Keith notes that he was generously paid, highlighting that although he has worked with other notable personalities like Juliana Kanyomozi, Rema Namakula, Lucy Bunyenyezi, and the first daughter Diana Museveni, the Busoga Royal wedding holds a special place in his career.

James Lubinga, Paramount Images Studio
James Lubinga, the founder of the official photographers for the recent Busoga royal wedding, says on the main wedding day, he and his team of 15 individuals, including a PR officer, six videographers, four photographers, two editors, and support staff for lighting and equipment, faced the demanding task of covering both the king and queen, who were in different locations before the event. With the church and reception also requiring meticulous coverage, the team navigated through challenges such as roadblocks and crowds to ensure every moment was captured flawlessly.

The pre-wedding shoot, occurring four days before the wedding, involved collaborating with the hair and makeup artists, Zziwa and Keith, as well as one of the tailors from Hers Uganda. Lubinga emphasised the importance of conducting the shoot before the wedding day to avoid time constraints and ensure a relaxed atmosphere for capturing shots.

Securing the prestigious job was no fluke for Paramount Images, as the studio, as per Lubinga, has built a credible reputation over its 15-year existence, demonstrating innovation, consistency, and timely delivery despite various challenges. Lubinga revealed that they were approached more than a year before the D-Day and chosen for their organisational skills, quality of service, and proven track record. Additionally, he has previously covered significant events ranging from first-family weddings to high-profile generals and business figures.

During the pre-shoot, which had a tight three-hour window, Lubinga and his team, despite the exhaustion, managed to capture a range of shots, including formal and intimate moments. Lubinga emphasised the flexibility of the royal couple and their willingness to cooperate in achieving the desired shots.

Lubinga highlighted the importance of patience and understanding the nature of the event and the people involved, emphasising the need to balance the modern and royal aspects of the young couple.
“The terms of the agreement required Paramount Images to withhold any social media posts until approved by the organising committee,” Lubinga says, noting that they had to respect the royal couple’s privacy.

“The unreleased private shots will remain exclusively for the enjoyment of the bride and groom,” he added.
A former teacher at Seroma Christian High School and Seeta High School, Lubinga’s journey from teaching to becoming a prominent figure in the world of event photography began in 2004, capturing student parties and geography trips before establishing Paramount Images Studio in 2008, specialising in events photography and video, mainly weddings and traditional marriages like Kuhingira, Kwanjula, and Gusaba.

Zziwa, Zziwa Hair Studio

Zziwa, Zziwa Hair Studio
Kennedy Katebalirwe, popularly known as Hair by Zziwa, is a celebrated Ugandan hairstylist, dresser, and the CEO of Hair by Zziwa hair studio. He recently had the honour of styling the hair for the Busoga King and Queen’s wedding. The story starts when Jojo, the Boujee Events event planner, contacts Zziwa many months ago. Reflecting on the initial interaction, Zziwa shares, «At first, I did not know who I was to work on, but what mattered was that the day they had booked was free, and I was ready for the challenge.»

Leading up to the main event, Zziwa actively participated in pre-wedding activities, including photoshoots. He recounts styling Inhebantu’s hair in the portrait that introduced her to the public as Inhebantu. Throughout the events, Zziwa experimented with two distinct hairstyles for the queen—the simple natural hair up-do and the middle part low-bun—reflecting her innate simplicity in style. Zziwa mentions that little was done with the King’s hair, as during the pre-wedding shoot, he wore his crown.

On the big day in Jinja, Zziwa extended his expertise to the flower girls, the mother of Inhebantu, and other members of the entourage. Describing his impressions of the queen, Zziwa shares, «She is a likeable character, honest, and straightforward. She knew exactly what she wanted.»

Zziwa’s extensive experience includes working with top Ugandan and international celebrities, delegates, and high-ranking officials, making him the ideal choice for this significant task. His studio, Hair by Zziwa, is located at Krisna Mart Mall, Kisementi, in Kampala.