“Married in white…you have chosen right!” That is one of the sayings surrounding the myth of wedding dresses in Kampala. The other is that white symbolizes modesty and purity a white dress worn by a bride means that she is still a virgin.
In Uganda, some Christian churches will not allow a couple that has had sex before marriage to get married in white. The bride will be required to dress up in off white…and not have the veil cover her face. The unveiling of the bride is supposed to signify that the groom is seeing her for the first time and this is the beginning of the ‘knowing’.
Many brides however are beginning to rethink the myth of the white dress and might only wear white because they have always wanted to get married in white. Some still wear white because it is expected of them even if they would rather have had another color dress for their wedding. A popular saying goes, “a wedding is for the whole community and the marriage is for the couple” which explains why brides allow everyone else to have an opinion of what they should or shouldn’t wear, what they should or shouldn’t do at their weddings.
Connie got married in August 2010 and she wore a white dress. Today she says that if she had to do it all over again, she would wear a red dress because she loves red and she thinks that a red wedding dress would stand out.
Tina got married five years ago and her dress was ivory. She got comments from her Aunties inquiring whether it was because she had already been living with her husband before they got married. However, she had chosen ivory because it was the only color dress in the design she liked in her size.
Julie is getting married this year in September and she is going to wear white. She says this is not because of the myth but she has always wanted to wear white at her wedding. She will have her bridesmaids in red and white.
Wedding dress colour trends in Uganda are toward white or ivory dresses with a touch of color. The most common colors used are red, purple and glitter. Flora Mugena is a designer and she uses African fabric to touch up her wedding dresses for her clients. She says that African designs at weddings are not very popular but there are some brides who like her ideas.
Glitters Bridal Place has become a popular wedding dress service recently. All their dresses have more glitter than usual. Glitter they say allows the bride to be the bride and even if she decides not to change her dress, she would still use glitter at the reception and after party.
Another recent trend is around the changing of dresses. Many brides are deciding not to change. If they do change then they might only change their shoes and remove the veil. For those who still change dresses, more women are having dresses tailor made for them.
Mariam, of Mariam Designs, says that the brides are now placing more orders after looking through the various designs in her magazine collection. They want their own dresses made as they would like to use them again. Having a dress made will cost between 300,000 UGX and 1,000,000 UGX depending on the complexity of the design and material used. Mariam makes dresses with a train that can be cut off later, or dresses that can be shortened after the wedding so that the bride can use the dress for another function. The most popular changing-dress color is purple in various shades. More recently, however, women are becoming more experimental and using bold colors like luminous green and orange for their changing-dresses as compared to the usual, blue, pink, or black and white.