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How it feels to have to postpone your wedding because of coronavirus

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SATURDAY NATION TEAM

By SATURDAY NATION TEAM
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The coronavirus situation in Kenya and throughout the world is changing minute by minute, even hour by hour.

And when the government announced the cancelation of all events including weddings, brides, and grooms everywhere had to adjust their plans.

Either postpone, cancel or hold the ceremony with not more than 10 people.

Fredrick Mwangi Ndegwa, 32, ICT Engineer, and Constance Joyce Okhako, 28, a teacher, have been dating for four years.

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They had to cancel their wedding slotted for today, March 28. Constance says: “I often tell Fredrick that ours is an ethereal love. It is such a shame that it took us six months to finally start dating. When I met Fredrick at the All Saints Cathedral in 2017, I was in search of a closer relationship with God. We struck a friendship from the get-go, his bubbliness to my cool, his chatter to my laughter and we often encouraged each other through our daily struggles.

If you would have told me then, that I would be here now saddened by the delay of our wedding I wouldn’t have believed you.

I don’t even know when my feelings turned from platonic to romantic, but I remember clearly when he asked me to be his girlfriend and a fire lit inside me.”

Fredrick says: “In August 2017, I came up with the perfect plan. I asked Constance to accompany me to the arboretum. I knew she would enjoy it because she is a great lover of nature. I was worried when she didn’t accept me immediately.

After a week, as she agreed to be my woman, she finally confided that she was worried that our ethnic backgrounds, Kikuyu and Luhya, would impede our love. Connie felt perfect and completed and complimented me in ways I had never thought possible.

So in late 2018, I took her home in South C, Nairobi and my parents fell in love with her as well. My parent’s approval gave me even more confidence in our relationship.

Just before we crossed into 2019, I took Connie to her favourite place –Ngong Hills – went down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She said yes.”

Constance says: “I was overjoyed. It was far, far away from the current coronavirus pandemic that has forced us to postpone the wedding indefinitely. I will not forget the day we decided to cancel. It was a week before the ceremony. It took all the strength in my body to stop myself from drowning in self-pity. I spent a whole night crying and a couple of days mopping around, looking for someone to blame. But I came out empty. The scourge has affected everyone.

For days, I laid in bed recalling how I rushed around Nairobi preparing for my dream wedding. It was to be at All Saints Cathedral Church and thereafter reception at KALRO grounds on Waiyaki way. Two months ago I was tasting food, choosing the best catering company that would provide the tastiest balanced meal for our 500 guests.

I was swirling around in my pure white mermaid gown from Fintan Designers practicing my dancing moves in front of my best friends, Grace, Christine, and Terry.

I was confident that all our gowns were cut and stitched and all venues paid and booked for. I remember sighing thinking that finally, we will start our life together.

Our traditional wedding had already happened in August 2019 in my family home in Shiatsala, Butere, so I was just thinking one more blessing and we would be off sipping fresh juice on some fancy tourist beach.”

Fredrick says: “All our 300 invitations had been sent out far and wide. So we had to text and call everyone to let them know that the wedding will not happen as planned. Some of our family members advised us to hold the 10 guests wedding approved under the new government directives. But we were conflicted about who to invite and who to leave out. Calls of support have helped us to move forward.”

Constance says: “My biggest blow was hearing Fredrick cancelling our pre-booked honeymoon. Since he was trying to be discrete, my teacher’s instinct told me not to show him that I overheard him.

’28/03/2020′ are the engravings on my wedding ring. 28 was not only the date of the wedding but the age at which I was going to walk down the aisle.

I give thanks that all the wedding vendors agreed to cater to our wedding at the date we will set in the future. Our budget was Sh500,000 and most had been committed.

Deep inside I believe that our wedding was ordained by God and I will stand by his word that he has good plans for me. I trust in the divine hand to rid us of this scary outbreak.”

Jacinta Mwihaki, 23, sales executive, and Evanson Mutiga, 29, librarian, were to wed on March 21. They postponed their wedding two days to the event.

Jacinta speaks about how she is coping: “My fiancé and I attend the same church in Kikuyu, Nairobi. The day we went to see our officiating pastor and came home with a date, it is like my life has been revolving around that date.

Sometimes I forget what date a particular day will be and I have to go back to the set wedding date as my starting point. We had been friends since 2013. Early last year, we started dating and in August, the same year, he paid for my bride price.

We agreed to have the wedding on March 21. We would be seven days into our marriage today. Three months ago, we started preparing for our big day.

We picked baby pink and silver as the theme colour for our wedding, settled on the service providers and reached out to our friends for their financial and emotional support. We were both elated about it.

When the government announced that we had a ʻpatient zeroʼ, it did not sound like a big deal. Then the numbers started growing and the mention of another number took away the possibility of us holding our wedding.

First, one of my friends sent in a regret message saying she would not make it to the wedding following the Covid-19 crisis. Then we started getting all these questions, are you still going to continue with the wedding? Have you reduced the number of guests?

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Two days to the wedding, my fiancé and I decided to push it forward. I could not get myself to type the messages. I wanted to wail, I was crushing on the inside.

This pandemic has hit me twice. When it broke out in Wuhan, China, my previous employer, who is from China, had travelled there. Back in the country, he ran a business selling suits and I was one of the salespeople. He did not return thus rendering me jobless. I intended to start looking for a job as soon as we moved in together. Where do I even start now?

After informing our family and friends of our decision to cancel, we reached out to our supplies. And here lies our biggest headache. Most of them had already bought the items needed for the wedding.

For instance, our baker had bought ingredients required for the cakes and so was our caterer. They cannot refund our deposit because they have already used the money.

We were dealing with most of them for the first time so besides the wedding that is hanging on two hinges of uncertainty, there is trust.

We have drafted agreements and sent them to the various service providers. But they are also disappointed because we are all in a field of uncertainty and confusion.”

Gabriel Macharia, 28 and Dorcas Nyambura, 26 are both nurses live in Kijabe town. They cancelled their 11th April wedding.

Gabriel says: “It was exactly four weeks to our wedding when the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in Kenya. I watched the breaking news like any other, my mind engulfed with my work as well as the preparations for our wedding.

At first, it didn’t sound as serious as it would later turn out to be. Our wedding was to happen on the 11th of April at Nissi Star Academy, Nyambari, Lari, Kiambu County.

Shortly after, I got calls from friends asking about the possibility of the wedding in light of the government directives.

While this served as a wakeup call, I was still in denial. I could not share my fears, not even with Dorcas. The man in me wanted to seem to be in charge. Mwanamme ni kujikaza (a man must toughen up).

I met Dorcas in April 2018 at a friend’s dowry ceremony, in Kinangop. We happened to sit next to each other. I struck a conversation and it flowed.

She was a nurse, I learned, preparing to go back to college to study I.C.U nursing. We exchanged contacts and I promised to help get an appropriate college.

This was my chance to shine. I would reap great dividends from this act of kindness. She got admitted to Kijabe and I have seen her work hard in the last two years.

We set our wedding to be in the same month we had met; April 2020. Our lives now revolved around the wedding since September 2019.

If not meeting the food vendor, we were visiting the venue. If not fitting several suits, we were getting a good photographer.

All this amid busy work schedules and classwork for Dorcas. How then do we just jump off the ship while in the middle of the sea?

I am a community boy and our wedding was to have 500 guests. Our wedding budget was Sh400,000 excluding honeymoon and personal effects.

We have lost a lot from the emergency cancellation, especially from the vehicle we had hired. Our mega cake had started being prepared. We have lost more than Sh60,000.

We are still making postponement arrangements with our service providers. I am still following to see if our hotel booking can be pushed which is seemingly becoming hard.

I had made reservations in a luxurious hotel for our honeymoon. This was to be a surprise for my dream woman. I envisioned us enjoying the site, busking by the serene swimming pool, taking cocktails and laughing our hearts silly as we take off to a bright future, suggest names for our babies, take selfies and all.

Flights reserved, honeymoon shopping done. The checklist was almost complete. The cancellation was unimaginable. Now we have to practise social-distancing.

Most of us are trying new recipes or just overeating. We may gain a kilo or two. Supposing I gain, I will need to visit a fundi (tailor) to readjust my suit or get a whole new set. It is very uncertain. This applies to all the bridal team.

We are not sure about our new wedding dates yet. We may have to do a simpler wedding than we initially wanted.”

Dorcas says: “Disappointment came knocking hard. I felt as though I was walking on overflowing hot magma. How do I register deep down that next month I will not be on a honeymoon? Coronavirus effortlessly halted this dream. Our reggae was stopped, albeit temporarily. I hate you corona!!!

I had so much expectation. I had so many plans then it all came to a standstill, without a warning. It took me a whole week for it to sink. What would happen to our maids, family, and friends who were all waiting for this day? It is a bitter pill to swallow but God’s time is the best.”

Gabriel says: “Being a frontline health worker, I am currently spending most of the time in hospital as we help fight coronavirus. I love my job and at this moment we want to ensure everyone is safe. We urge everyone to observe healthy measures and stay home. We can shorten the time this virus will be in Kenya. All of us have a role to play. My fiancé is home sensitising the family and community about the Covid-19 as she prepares for her final exam which was postponed due to this virus.”





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