It’s your big day — who says you have to adhere to any set of rules? You should get to pick and choose the traditions you’d like to be a part of your wedding based on what you think suits your relationship best. We love these African wedding traditions from African-Weddings.com, and think they could make a great addition to an American wedding.
1. Bringing the whole family to the proposal
Well, not the proposal, necessarily. However, in Ghana, the way the groom asks for the bride’s hand in marriage is by going to her family’s front door, with his whole family, and knocking. If the bride’s family opens the door, then the groom has been granted permission, and both families celebrate. That’s a little pre-party right there!
2. Jumping the broom
Jumping the broom symbolizes sweeping away any problems of the past and most likely originated during slave days when African-American couples were not allowed to marry, so jumping the broom officiated their commitment. Bleak origins — however we love the strong will of those couples willing to risk their lives to honor their love.
3. Keeping the broom
In many African and African-American homes, the couple will keep the broom they jumped on their big day, often having it further decorated or embellished. Some couples order beautiful brooms with hand carvings on the handle.
4. Crossing branches
In this tradition, the couple each hold one stick or branch and create a cross shape. The sticks are meant to represent the strength and life of two trees, and the tradition is supposed to give the couple a strong beginning. Usually the branches or sticks are plucked from places meaningful to the couple.
5. Libation ceremony
Rather than a slideshow of deceased loved ones accompanied by sad music, African couples do this: they pour water or alcohol on the ground in each of the cardinal directions, meanwhile praying to the spirits of their ancestors. The act is supposed to provoke the spirits to pass on their wisdom to the new couple.
6. Tying the knot
Now you know where the old saying comes from: in some African tribes, someone close to the bride and groom will tie their wrists together to symbolize the couple’s unity. Usually cowrie shells — symbols of fertility and prosperity — are used.
7. Tasting the four elements
This tradition comes from the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria and Southern Benin in West Africa. The ritual requires that the couple taste four flavors representing four emotions. Traditionally the flavors are sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). Tasting these is meant to show that the couple will withstand all of these emotions in marriage.
8. Kola nuts
The kola nut, which was a part of the original Coca Cola recipe, is also important in African medicine and culture. In weddings it represents the willingness of the couple and their families to be there for one another through tough times. They all partake in eating the nut, and some couples keep the shell of in their homes.
9. Royalty for the day
In traditional African weddings, the bride and groom both wear hand-woven African royal fabrics because they’re supposed to be the king and queen for the day.
10. The loose blouse
This one’s for the brides: African brides wear a short, loose blouse called a buba on their big day. Goodbye sweat stains from all that dancing and posing for pictures!