Whereas rural wedding ceremonies are defined by colourful faces with more food and booze, urban weddings focus on a colourful reception with more cake and decoration.
Before urbanization, wedding ceremonies were typical of today’s rural weddings. Urban weddings differ from rural ones in organization, gifts, decoration, attendance and most activities of the day.
In town, wedding meetings come on top of the agenda. They are intended to mobilize funds and the workforce necessary for success.
In villages, such meetings are not common. People discuss about the ceremony from their gardens, farms and bars and turn up to work with less organization headaches.
However, invitation cards are vital in urban weddings. Organisers expect a contribution in return, even if the invitee does not attend the ceremony.
Guests are invited informally in village, and everyone is invited. Instead of contributing money like town dwellers, people in villages come with gifts like bananas, traditional porridge “Ubushera” and local brew, on the wedding day.
Dowry is still esteemed both in villages and towns, though most bridegrooms’ families in town prefer to give their dowry in form of cash.
“I paid my dowry as money because I had no cows in town,” said Ruterana, an aged employee of Urwego Opportunity Bank (U.O.B).
Ruterana has headed the bride’s and the bridegrooms’ delegations as an elderly on several occasions.
The introduction ceremony in rural areas is more or less similar to town. There is a common poetic language, traditional dance and old jokes that test the bridegroom before handing him his bride.
In villages, the bride is kept indoors until the introduction.
“In town, the girl’s colleagues may come to her house on the wedding day just before the ceremony begins, to say hello. However, in the village, only her paternal aunts can enter her room,” says Mama Zubeda, an airtime vendor in Kigali, who has attended both weddings.
Both rural and urban weddings start with a Church/Mosque session where vows are made.
After church, rural guests head to the bridegroom’s home sometimes riding on bicycles or go walking for hours. On their arrival, they are served with local beer, banana juice, meat and other favourite dishes.
Ruterana explained that people in the village invest more time in weddings which adds to their splendor.
“Town people always have less time to enjoy the ceremony. Villagers on the other hand can spare a whole week to prepare and celebrate weddings,” he says.
In towns, families strain their budgets to rent good convoy cars and fancy gardens for a reception. Most parties have a few bottles of soda, just to quench the thirst of invited guests. Thereafter, the newlyweds they are escorted to their home, where the bride’s family gives gifts in a ceremony known as “Gutwikurura.”
In villages, Gutwikurura is commonly done a day after the wedding. The newlyweds can then start a new life as a new family.
In spite of the differing rural and urban weddings, they are all weddings with the former being much cheaper than the latter.