African Themed Wedding Ceremony

When a bride in the United States desires an "African-style wedding," she is usually referring to Yoruba traditions. The Yoruba style wedding is a very spiritual service which reflects the depth of the African family by the sharing of gifts and love.

The ceremony process may begin about a month before the wedding with spiritual readings. Elements of the actual ceremony may include a Libation (a prayer with an offering, usually water or liquor offered by an elder). This ritual calls upon and asks God's blessing and the blessings of ancestral spirits. The groom verbally seeks permission from the bride's mother to marry her daughter.

Gifts are presented to the bride?s family symbolizing the ability of the groom to take care of this woman. They are accepted by the bride's father. Other elements of the ceremony may include a tasting and explanation of spices, prayers, exchange of rings. A great celebration follows.

African Wedding Attire

African woven cloth reflects personal, societal, religious and political culture. Kente cloth is the primary woven fabric originally produced by the Ashanti peoples. The traditional red, gold and green in the design are liberation colors recognized by people of African descent the world over. RED for the blood shed by millions in captivity, GOLD for the mineral wealth symbolizing prosperity, and GREEN representing the land or homeland, Africa.

Boxes arranged in an "X" mean all ideas coming together at one point symbolizing leadership, consensus and the voice of the people. The stepped border motif symbolizes defense against the countless assaults and obstacles encountered in the course of an African lifetime. This can be found on African American theme invitations and accessories, even if you feel you want to have a more American wedding.

Traditional native dress for the women would be a headpiece (a gele'), a loose fitting or grand bou-bou or the wrap skirt (iro), shawl (iborum), and a short loose blouse (buba) made out of the same fabric. The groom wears a pair of slacks (sokoto), shirt (bubba), a long flowing jacket (agbada) and a rounded box-like hat (fila).

African American couples who chose a more American flare may choose the traditional white bridal gown for the bride and the groom a tuxedo. Both may be trimmed in Kente cloth. The traditional color of African royalty is purple, accented with gold. These may be used as accent colors worn by the bridal party.

Jumping the Broom

This custom is a very Western one. It began because African American slaves were forbidden the ritual of marriage. The broom itself held a spiritual significance for many people of African descent because the new bride had usually helped other women in her new family sweep the courtyard clean. This symbolized her willingness to help out with her future family. During slavery, the couple would actually jump over a broom to begin the marriage. Today, this is becoming a traditional part of Afro-centric wedding ceremony as a way of honoring the trials of the couple's ancestors. In nearly all African tribes, the wedding is rich with symbolism representing the bringing together of two families. Anything that would center on this blending of families (such as the bride's family and the groom's family forming lines and then exchanging places) would be in keeping with this tradition. Have fun planning your African style wedding. You are not only creating a vibrant and visually appealing event; you are honoring your people who came before you.

Article Written By

Rosetta Bartlett-George
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