When Rwandans abroad start planning a wedding, they often face more than the logistical hurdles of reserving a reception site and choosing a cake: Getting back home to get married can be both a political and financial challenge.
At least, until Skype. Now, many couples simply skip the travel in favor of a face-to-face Internet connection during the wedding.
"In Rwanda, nothing can replace a traditional wedding, not even a religious ceremony," sociologist Alexis Rusine told Worldcrunch. "Couples feel obliged to do things according to tradition, which dictates that, in order to get married, the bride must bring a large dowry. They have to get married to avoid the shame and guilt social pressure puts upon them."
While a traditional wedding is expected of most Rwandans, including a presentation of a dowry, gift exchanges, and a religious ceremony, using technology to connect with guests seems to be tolerated.
"When fiancés greet their guests, all we have to do is turn on the projector and speakers, open up a computer, and thanks to Skype, the family can see the couple, in Belgium or wherever, dressed in their wedding outfits and waving to them as if they were here with us," C. Kayitare from Muhanga told Worldcrunch.
In the meantime, Michigan State law professors have organized a movement to legalize online marriages, which they say could "alter the landscape of the marriage culture wars" and allow couples separated by distance to marry.