Uganda is country with a spread of 56 ethnic groups with distinct culture and tradition peculiar to their roots. Wedding as a cultural entity can not be overemphasized in this landlocked country.
Although several brows have cybernetic raised against the exorbitant cost of preparing a traditional wedding in Uganda, a modest traditional marriage ceremony costing between $2,000 and $50,000, Ugandan weddings are always a big deal of an event to to show off newly found wealth or social status. This is due to the rising fact of the huge dowry that is being paid before the marriage rite can proceed. At Ugandan traditional weddings, the bride do change her dress several times to depict her gorgeousness and elegance for the special day.
The traditional attire worn by Ugandan bride is a gomesi. This is usually brightly colored silky dress with pointed sleeves and tied around the waist by a large belt. It is a floor-length dress with a square neckline and short, puffed sleeves. The dress is tied with a sash placed below the waist over the hips. The gomesi is usually characterized with two buttons on the left side of the neckline. Gomesi are mostly made of silk, cotton, or linen fabric, but the silk is often the expensive.
Often times, a kikooyi or kanga can be tied underneath the gomesi linen to ensure that the fabric does not stick to the body. For designing, a well-made gomesi can require up to six meters of fabric.
Basically, at Ugandan traditional weddings, all women are expected to don themselves in gomesi attire. This clothing has garnered much popularity that American hip-hop star, Alicia Keys rocked in the beautiful dress on her visit to the East African country in 2007. In other line, women from the west and northwest of Uganda do sometimes opt to drape long cloth around their waist and shoulders, which is called suuka. Busuti can sometimes be worn too, which is a floor length dress.
Kanzu is the traditional wedding attire exclusively for the Ugandan groom. A kanzu is a white or cream colored robe worn by men in the country. It is referred to as a tunic in English, and as the thawb in Arab countries. Thus kanzu is an ankle or floor length garment. It was first introduced to the Buganda Kingdom by Arab traders before being embraced as a traditional wedding dress across Uganda. The traditional kanzu has maroon embroidery around the collar, abdomen, and sleeves. The embroidery is referred to as the omulela. However, the major center of kanzu knitting and production is Mende, Uganda.
At traditional wedding ceremonies, it is therefore customary for the groom to wear a white kanzu and a kofia. Kofia is a brimless cylindrical cap with a flat crown, worn by men in East African region, especially in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda. Kofia is a Swahili word that means hat.
In Uganda, the groom, the groomsmen, and other men who are members of the wedding party always wear the kanzu with a suit jacket.