Muireann taking photos in Uganda


Mac Cool's Uganda Letter

Photographs and Stories by Muireann Mac Cool


B l o g

My hunt for a wedding dress

25 Aug 2006

The hunt is on to find THE dress for my Ugandan wedding. Not as straight forward as you think.

Think Cinderella ball gown, large stiff skirts under masses of netting. Think Cathedral suitable trains. Think beads and pearl beads covering you from head to toe. Think meriange and so white it could be suitable for a Daz detergent advert. You are probably visualising a typical Ugandan wedding dress.

Since June I've been hit by wedding fever so I decided to head out into Kampala and research my options. Option one is to rent a gown. Option two is to buy a gown ordered from the internet or option three is to turn my back on buying one in Uganda and run home to Ireland to buy one. Option three is the fantasy but it's good to have options. My main hopes are pinned on renting because lets face it I don't want to be looking a dress for 50 odd years do I? The renting option is common here with plenty of shops servicing brides. The majority of brides rent the dress, wear it in church and for the cutting of the cake (pre food!) and then they rush off to change into their (originally named)"changing dresses". Sometimes they change twice. Once they've changed the groom has been hidden in the dense crowd of guests and she has to go looking for him. So the changing dress needs to be wearable.

I hit the bridal shops one at a time mostly as some are tucked away in different corners of the city. W, FX's sister and bridesmaid to be came with me to the first few places. The first one was probably the most shocking in that we were informed that we would have to pay 15,000/- (c 7euro) to look at the catalogue of dresses and to try on a selection. Tempting until we started talking price. 800,000/- (400E) to 1.6 million (800E). Oh says I inocently "how much is it to rent then?" "Who said anything about buying" replies the sales assistant sweetly. Ek. Charging women to try on wedding dresses is the norm here with different prices for different shops. You can pay to try on a selection if you're lucky, otherwise you pay per dress. Steepist is 5Euro per dress.

By the time I reached Lady Charlotte I was begining to lose hope in my rental option due to the selection available in Uganda. It's all white outrageous puffs with acres of pearl beading. None said elegant simplist beauty. The styles of dresses I want for the wedding are usually worn as "changing dresses" though with lots more beading. At Lady Charlotte there were a few Muzungu options so I paid my 5,000 (2.50E) to try on a few and wow was it worth the spend!

I'm actually getting married! Boom nothing makes it hit home more than standing in front of a mirror in a massive dress and veil. It was hilarous and the giggles from W and J made all the more special. It was so much fun. Sadly none of the dresses were spot on perfect so I'm keeping them in mind as back up. So the search continues...I'll tell you more in my next installment

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