BRIDE & GROOM EXPO COMES OF AGE.

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THIS YEAR, THE BRIDE & GROOM EXPO IS CELEBRATING ITS 10TH EDITION FROM JUNE 22 JUNE 24 AT UMA SHOWGROUNDS, LUGOGO. THE EXPO BEGAN BACK IN 2009 WITH THE AIM OF BRINGING TOGETHER SERVICE PROVIDERS IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY UNDER ONE ROOF AND TO HELP THOSE PLANNING TO GET MARRIED SOON TO “PLAN THEIR WEDDING IN A DAY” . FROM A SMALL GATHERING, IT HAS BLOSSOMED INTO THE BIGGEST WEDDING-RELATED EVENT ON THE SOCIAL CALENDAR, WITH NUMBERS OF VISITORS SWELLING BY THE YEAR. KALUNGI KABUYE TAKES A LOOK AT HOW FAR THE EXPO HAS COME OVER THE YEARS….

THE BEGINNING AND EARLY YEARS

The most amazing thing about the very fi rst Bride & Groom Expo was that it actually took place, on a rainy weekend at the end of September of 2009. Murhpy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will and it seemed old Murphy was everywhere that first time. Maybe, because it was the first time anyone had ever done anything like that, and most people had no idea what to do or expect. Sure, there had been exhibitions held before and fashion shows had happened, but not at this scale and not at this level of excellence. The fashion village, which had the stalls, was in the smaller exhibition hall, while the fashion shows were in a large marquee set up where now is a parking lot. It was supposed to start with a gala night, with all the glitz and glamour that a fashion

event is supposed to have. We were supposed to have a dress rehearsal the Thursday night before, but there was no electricity and no generator had been set up, so nothing could be done. The catwalk had been built about two metres high and had to be broken down and re-built. The lights were all wrong, there were only about four of them and it took a lot to convince the events company to have them changed and add many more, and they only did that for the gala night. After that, it was back to the four lights. The decorator (yes, there was a decorator) probably had in mind a wedding reception and had arranged the tables like they were for in-laws that could not stand each other. She refused to change anything, never mind that she had been paid up front, so our team had to re-arrange them. The pathway to the marquee, on which the red carpet (finding a long enough red carpet was a challenge back in 2009, so we got many small pieces and stitched  them together) was supposed to lie, was only half-way paved, and the workers wanted a big ‘soda’ to complete the work. No soda was forthcoming so half the path was dust. And then it rained, very hard that the wind almost blew the marquee away and that murram track turned into mud. But we laid the red carpet on the grass, and by the time guests started coming in (for once we were glad that Kampala people always come late), things were in place. The gala night was aresounding success, and the Bride & Groom Expo was offi cially launched. That fi rst year entry was free-of-charge, except for the gala night dinner, which was by invite only. There were no MCs, so B ride & Groom editor Keturah Kamugasa (now deceased) and I took turns at describing what was going on the runway. Renowned designer Sylvia Owori was in charge of the fashion shows.

THE SECOND EDITION..The following year, a decision was taken to take the expo indoors and Hotel Africana was the chosen site. The gala night dinner was held near the swimming pool, but the subsequent fashion shows and the stalls were in the Nile Hall. It had been agreed that there would be the three days we spent there. We did manage to have a dress rehearsal, but again there were problems with the lighting. The guy in charge boasted how he was bringing TV lights and it took the whole evening to convince him that fashion shows needed white light more than the so called ‘mood lights’. He also did not understand that different lights had different colour temperatures, so on the gala night he added a follow spot, which was completely different from the rest which were plain conventional par cans. But it was too late to change anything and the effect was that we had a white wedding gown look like it was yellow at the beginning of the runway, and then change to blue at the end. It was the year that Siima Sabiti and Rudende, then presenters at Vision Voice FM, had their first appearances as MCs and would return for all the subsequent years. It was also the last time a gala dinner was held, as it was judged too expensive air conditioning in that hall, but after the first day it was turned off and the person supposed to have the keys to the room where the controls were had gone away for the weekend. So it was a hot and sweaty affair for the three days we spent there. We did manage to have a dress rehearsal, but again there were problems with the lighting. The guy in charge boasted how he was bringing TV lights and it took the whole evening to convince him that fashion shows needed white light more than the so called ‘mood lights’.

He also did not understand that different lights had different colour temperatures, so on the gala night he added a follow spot, which was completely different from the rest which were plain conventional par cans. But it was too late to change anything and the effect was that we had a white wedding gown look like it was yellow at the beginning of the runway, and then change to blue at the end. It was the year that Siima Sabiti and Rudende, then presenters at Vision Voice FM, had their fi rst appearances as MCs and would return for all the subsequent years. It was also the last time a gala dinner was held, as it was judged too expensive.

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