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Saying “I do” in the middle of Covid-19

Faith, Charles' sister (left) and Mercy, Laura's niece (right) represented the family at the couple's wedding on April 18, 2020.

Laura Wambua née Lwova joined Strathmore in June 2006 to pursue the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) course. While her fees were catered for through a bursary, she worked as a part-time housekeeper to raise money for her upkeep. Since then she has held different roles within the University from receptionist and accountant to working at the Pate Cafeteria. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Hotel Management degree in 2019 and now works for @iLabAfrica. On April 18, she and her husband, Charles, made their wedding vows before a group of 15 people. She narrates the journey that led them to the altar.

Your initial plans factored in a small, intimate wedding. How different was the one you had with the restrictions that came with Covid-19?

Even though our initial plan was for a small wedding, Covid-19 was not in the picture, and our guest list was definitely longer than 15 people. We were to wed last year; however, there were several obstacles. I lost a brother in an accident and we had to postpone the wedding to facilitate the mourning period. Financially, things were tough but thanks to friends and family we were able to raise funds. With the pandemic now in the picture, our plans were again altered. At first we did mind having an even smaller wedding but with the situation getting worse, it didn’t really matter to us even if the restriction lowered the number of attendants to five people.

Why did you decide to go ahead with the wedding?

We had completed all the plans pertaining to the wedding. On the other hand, things were getting worse with growing numbers of Covid-19 cases and we felt there was no need of postponing. We needed the sacrament before starting out life together. We had phone conversations with our parents; they gave a go-ahead since we had had the traditional wedding in December 2019 and we had got their blessing. We plan to have a celebration later during our anniversary or if the situation in the country improves, later in the year.

How did you choose who to invite?

It wasn’t easy making that choice. We have many friends. The majority of our family members were upcountry and couldn’t access Nairobi. In the end, we had two priests presiding over the ceremony. My niece, who I live with, represented my family while his younger sister represented his family. To add to the guest list, we had the chairlady from our small Christian community, our best couple, the photographer, two choir members and two additional friends.

How did you and Charles meet?

It never occurred to me that I would find my husband in a church choir but that is where we met. Charles had been in the choir at Saint Catherine of Alexandria, South C. I love singing. I’m a member of the Strathmore Chaplaincy choir. So when an announcement was made by the choir chairperson requesting parishioners to sign up, I thought it wise to join. He noticed me first but I was busy with work and school so I would hardly stay after choir practice. I’d rush out to study and finish assignments on Sundays; I was a full time employee, had full time classes as well as evening and Saturday classes.

 What was the courting period like?

He also had a busy schedule as his work as an Electronic Engineer demanded his attention, sometimes even on Sundays when he had an ongoing project.  We maximized on the times we met during choir practice. At other times he visited my niece and I for lunch or dinner. We had phone conversations and WhatsApp chats that went late into the night. But we’d still have the energy to be up at 5am!

What emotions does one go through on their wedding day? Were you nervous as the wedding approached in terms of making a lifelong commitment?

On the day of the wedding we were both excited, happy, and thankful. But yes, I was nervous. I have been independent since after high school. Now here I was, going to live with someone else for life. But this anxiety wasn’t much of a bother as we were both well prepared. We have been through the premarital classes and we’ve got so much from experienced married family members and married friends.

It would be interesting to know how you prayed for your husband before you met him. Did you go for pilgrimages, take part in novenas?

I did many novenas (I even lost count) and quite a number of pilgrimages. I prayed to Saint Joseph and Saint Josemaria. I also used the prayer card of the Alviras. I had witnessed many of my friends from high school and from college getting married and having families. I was not getting younger and Mr. Right wasn’t coming along. Before meeting Charles, I went for a May pilgrimage with a close friend to Resurrection Gardens in 2017. I joined the choir in July, Charles and I started dating in September.

What do you look forward to now that you are married?

We enjoy each other’s company and look forward to being together and living ‘happily ever after’. We are best friends, we hope to learn from each other and make our marriage into what we dreamed of. We hope to pray together and look forward to raising our children as a blessing from God.