Make destination wedding a dream

The aisle at the wedding venue in the wild. Photo / Bash Fahad Mutumba

What you need to know:

  • On how they managed to transport all those people from Kampala to Kasese, Simon explained,“Transportation and accommodation are at the core of any destination wedding. When dealing with these, you always must use your power of the numbers to negotiate amazing discounts.”

Exchanging wedding vows outside a church or mosque is not common in Uganda, regardless of the fact that such destination weddings are very popular in  other  countries. More often than not, people in developed countries would rather say “I do” with their feet in the sand, and enjoy a tropical breeze; than do it inside any church in the world.

That said, the younger generation of Ugandans is breaking the norm, and embracing such scenic weddings, for the love of travel. Simon and Daphine Singiza said their matrimonial vows on top of a cliff at the twin lakes of Mirambi and Katinda in Bunyaruguru; with the Queen Elizabeth National Park Savannah clearly visible in the lowlands and Mountain Rwenzori in the distance. They shared the details about how they pulled off their destination wedding.

First off, the inspiration for someone to want a destination wedding would vary, but for Simon’s case, his inherent love for travel was the absolute reason, “Growing up, I have lived in a family that lives, loves and is all about tourism. A destination wedding for me was more of an opportunity to promote Uganda’s unique physical features and give our guests a memorable experience that they would live to remember. Imagine attending Holy Mass on a cliff of  two  beautiful lakes, a kasiki on the bus from Kampala, and a reception among lions, baboons and elephants. It is definitely something thrilling.”

The Singizas had initially planned for 300 guests but ended up hosting 400.

“We opted for an open church session in the savannah wilderness. We relied on the weather forecast to predict the weather of the D-day, and even though it had predicted some rains, the sun shone all day,” said Daphine.

On how they managed to transport all those people from Kampala to Kasese, Simon explained,“Transportation and accommodation are at the core of any destination wedding. When dealing with these, you always must use your power of the numbers to negotiate amazing discounts.”

The hotelier and businesswoman were conscious about the budget, and got the best deals for every service.

“We fully catered for an UWA bus and a party bus to transport our guests. After negotiating good deals with several hotels such as Voyager Equator Lodge, Simba Safaris and Ciello Country Inn, guests contributed to their accommodation by booking any hotel of their choice from high-end to budget. Some guests even opted for camping,”  Simon said.

About wedding in time, after a nine-hour drive, and the activity-packed wedding eve, he said,“Since our wedding was on Saturday, guests started travelling as early as Thursday on the party bus. It was a party all night affair while stopping at different clubs in Mbarara and Bushenyi.”

On Friday, they organised a bon fire and barbecue in the evening, and then Saturday started with breakfast on a boat cruise on Kazinga Channel. Meanwhile, Daphine  was anxious on the wedding morning :

“I woke up at 4am and prayed for everything; I am glad it did not rain for the rest of the day. By 8am, we were done with make-up, and had a photoshoot which lasted an hour.  Then, we set off for a boat cruise at Kazinga Channel. Later, we headed to the twin lakes- Mirambi and Katinda, for the church ceremony,” she recounted.

The Holy Mass started at 2pm and they had the reception at Voyager Equator Lodge at 4pm. They allowed few speeches. The next day, they had a game drive in the park and did a post-wedding photoshoot at as many beautiful spots in Queen Elizabeth National Park as possible.

“Yes. Everything about our wedding was so unique. I met the groom before church because of the long distance between the wedding venue, and the reception. Also, this was to give time to those travelling from Kampala on the same day to attend the church ceremony,” Daphine  said, Simon interjected:

“One has to be more flexible and open-minded to have a destination wedding. For instance, we had to process a church gazette to allow us to wed outside a church building. We had to to get the pile of documents needed to submit to the registrar of marriages at Uganda Registration Services Bureau. Without this license, your wedding is considered null and void, and the process to get these documents takes about 21 days. The documents include: application letter from the couple, letter from the church, copy of church gazette, marriage banns by the church, registered affidavits of the couple giving reasons for grant of the license, identity cards of the couple, payment receipts of service providers, necessary documents to support the claim, passport photos and Shs300,000 for nationals. The couple is also required to appear before the registrar for an interview prior to submission of the application,” he said.

To pull off a destination wedding, nature and other factors are unpredictable, so you cannot be rigid.

The Singizas hired a pianist, a violinist and an accordion player.  Family members sang. On the cliff next to the lakes, one could see the beautiful Rift Valley landscape and Mount Rwenzori

“The wedding reception was at the Voyager Equator Lodge in Kikorongo. We chose it for its lush savannah-themed gardens and strategic location. It neighbours the park in the South, a view of Mount Rwenzori on the East and a view of Lake George in the North. The lodge is cut through by the Equator so it is safe to say we had our reception at the centre of the earth,” Simon revealed.

Their best moments

Simon loved the kasiki on the party bus. They both loved the boat cruise on Kazinga Channel, and the thrill of tying the knot at the twin lakes.

Daphine says, a destination wedding is a bit expensive compared to a usual wedding with similar aesthetics. You have to plan everything in advance.Simon, however, differs: “Destination weddings are  affordable if you manage your numbers,”  he argued.

The Singizas acknowledge that for  a destination wedding there are limited service providers to choose from, most guests might not turn up; their guests sacrificed four days for the wedding.

Two cents

Simon and Daphine Singiza:“Chose an affordable location otherwise everything might end up being pricy, get as many service providers from around the area to avoid transporting them from elsewhere, keep it simple but classy, arrange different activities for your guests to make the wedding memorable, and finally capitalise on group discounts on accommodation and transport for your guests, even if they will be paying for themselves. The overall budget mainly depends on how many guests, but a ballpark of  Shs30m is enough for a simple destination wedding of 50 guests.”