Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several couples cancelled their weddings during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, even as the concept of scientific weddings took shape among Ugandan communities.
The concept started with a ban on public gatherings in March 2020 and a suggestion by president Yoweri Museveni that people can abandon what he called hexagonal weddings in favour of ‘scientific weddings’ with only a few people in attendance. Scientific weddings appeared to have become popular and the general public thought it was the way to go because they seemed costly and easy to organize.
But according to records from key Churches in Kampala, the much-hyped niche could have been shunned by a larger section of Ugandans, dozens of whom cancelled and others postponed their wedding dates. At St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Rubaga where an average of 10 weddings is usually held every Saturday, there was no single wedding registered in the month of April and May.
Rev. Fr. Timothy Lukananso, the Assistant Parish Priest at Rubaga Cathedral notes that a few couples that had opted for the scientific wedding wanted the Church to bend the rules or waive some of the prerequisites and wed them in the shortest time possible.
According to the Catholic Church doctrines, the couple has to undergo proximate preparation for marriage, including but not limited to, counselling lessons often used to induct them on how to build and sustain a Catholic family – which is the basic unit of the Church. The said lesson is held for three months as the Church runs marriages banns.
However, Rev. Fr. Lukananso says that the Catholic Church could not allow people headed for an important institution to go half baked. He adds that as the Church refused to bend its rules, some couples decided to stay away from scientific weddings.
At St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe, the number of weddings conducted dropped from 50 couples per month to a paltry eight. Rev. George William Kyeyune, the Namirembe Cathedral Vicar shares that many couples got a wrong impression of what a scientific wedding should be. Others thought it was a ‘walk in and get married’ procedure.
Rev. Kyeyune, however, notes that to make things a little bit easier for those who wished to Wed, the Church reduced on the number of pre-marriage classes but increased on the time dedicated to the sessions from one to at least three hours. The Church also opened a window for lessons through digital platforms.
Ivan Naijuka, the Communications Officer at All Saints Cathedral Nakasero, notes due to high competition for dates, couples always book six months earlier. The Church expected more numbers during the period after lent, given the fact that Anglicans don’t wed during lent, but many cancelled the pre-booked dates.
Naijuka, however, adds that a few couples have gone ahead with their weddings. In order to make them comfortable and allow other family friends to be part of the weddings, the diocese is using remote collaboration tools to broadcasting the wedding tools.
At the Uganda Registration Service Bureau, the services were temporarily suspended during the lockdown and only resumed with the lifting of lockdown restrictions. Vincent Katutsi, the Uganda Registration Service Bureau Director for Civil Registration notes that they haven’t waived any of the requirements.
He adds that although the registry has been receiving much of interracial marriages, Ugandans are also embracing the unions. He expects that the scientific wedding concept will later sink into locals as they are not expensive.