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wedding home > unique wedding ideas > african wedding traditions and customs

African Wedding Traditions and Customs

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You may have heard of "jumping the broom." It is a tradition stemming back to the days of slavery when slaves were forbidden from marrying. They created this ritual to represent the beginning of their new life together. In modern ceremonies, couples jump over a broom, often decorated with ribbon and tulle, after they’re pronounced married.

Cowrie or other seashells represent purity and beauty in African culture. In Morocco, bridesmaids bathe the bride in hammam before the ceremony, then apply henna-stained designs to her hands and feet before dressing her in her wedding gown.

The colors of African royalty are purple and gold which make a bold combination for a wedding theme.

A Libation ceremony is held to honor elders. During the ceremony a prayer is said and an elder presents water or liquor as an offering to God and the ancestral spirits for their blessing. The groom may seek permission from the bride’s mother to marry her daughter while presenting gifts to her father to symbolize his ability to care for her.

During the ceremony, there is a tradition that involves tasting the four elements: lemon for sour, vinegar for bitter, cayenne pepper for hot, and honey for sweet. The four tastes represent the different times or moods of married life. In some tribes, the couple’s wrists were bound with plaited grass for the ceremony and the walk down the aisle. Many couples incorporate this tradition by simply holding hands.

African dancers or a drummer for the reception and traditional foods are also ways to incorporate the heritage.

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