7 Unique Wedding Traditions from Around Africa to Incorporate in Your Ceremony

These unique wedding traditions offer a vibrant blend of African culture.
The Love Central - Wedding Traditions from Around Africa The Love Central - Wedding Traditions from Around Africa
Wedding Traditions from Around Africa

Dreaming of a wedding that honors your African roots? Look no further! This article showcases 7 unique wedding traditions from across Africa that will add a special touch to your big day. Whether you’re in the diaspora or planning a destination wedding, these customs will help you celebrate your heritage in style

Africa is home to over 3,000 ethnic groups, each with its rich cultural practices. Weddings are a time when these traditions shine brightest. From the colorful Zulu ceremonies of South Africa to the elaborate henna parties of Morocco, African weddings are a feast for the senses.

Let’s dive into 7 unique wedding traditions you can incorporate:

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Africa is home to over 3000 ethnic groups each with its rich cultural practices Image source Freepik

1. Jumping the Broom (Ghana)

The broom jumping  tradition originated in the Asante region of Ghana, specifically in the city of Kumasi. The broom, called “praye” in Twi, symbolizes sweeping away past lives and leaping into a new future together.

How to do it: Commission a broom from Ghana, adorned with kente cloth in the colors of your family’s clans. Position it at the altar, bristles facing your good luck direction (often east). After your vows, grasp hands and leap together. The height of your jump is said to predict the strength of your marriage.

2. Knocking Ceremony (West Africa)

Kookooko or Door-Knocking, traditionally held on a Wednesday or Thursday evening, involves at least 15 members from each family.

How to do it: The groom’s family arrives with gifts in odd numbers (7 or 9 are considered lucky). These include:

  • 2 bottles of gin or schnapps
  • 2 packets of cigarettes (even for non-smokers)
  • 2 packets of kola nuts
  • 2 alligator peppers
  • A letter stating their intentions

The bride remains hidden while her family engages in witty banter with the groom’s family. They might say, “We heard you lost something. Did you come to find it here?”

3. Mendhi Party (Sudan)

In Sudan, this is called “Jertik” and often lasts three nights. The henna paste is mixed with oil of cloves for a deeper, longer-lasting stain.

How to do it: Host your party on the 27th night of Ramadan for extra blessings. Hire a Sudanese henna artist to create intricate “Selalam” patterns, which resemble a ladder and symbolize ascending to a new life stage. 

The bride sits on a special platform called a “jogara” while guests sing traditional songs like “Al Rashid Wa Al Maymouna.”

4. Kola Nut Ceremony (West Africa)

In Igbo culture, kola nut is called “oji” and is considered the king of all seeds. The ceremony is called “Iwa oji” and is essential for all important gatherings.

How to do it: Present at least 4 kola nuts (preferably white ones) in a wooden bowl called “okwa oji.” The eldest man present will say a prayer, break the nut, and distribute pieces in order of seniority. 

Everyone chews their piece slowly, savoring the bitter taste. It’s believed that the longer the kola nut is chewed, the longer the couple’s life together will be.

5. Tasting the Four Elements (West Africa)

This tradition is part of the Yoruba ceremony, which is the final stage of traditional marriage negotiations.

How to do it: Prepare these specific items:

  • Sour: Slice of lemon or fermented porridge
  • Bitter: Stinging nettle tea or unripe banana
  • Hot: Piece of raw ginger or chili pepper
  • Sweet: Honey or sugarcane juice

The couple feeds each other while the bride’s aunt explains the symbolism. Guests ululate after each tasting.

6. Money Spray (Nigeria)

Called “Owambe” in Yoruba, this tradition turns the couple into human ATMs for a night. It’s accompanied by a specific type of music called “Fuji.”

How to do it: Hire a professional “sprayer” who will artfully shower you with money. They use a money-spraying machine or fan the bills out dramatically. 

The most skilled sprayers can make designs with the notes. Designate a few friends as money-pickers to collect the cash. In Nigeria, specially minted commemorative coins are sometimes used.

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These unique wedding traditions offer a vibrant blend of African culture Image source Freepik

7. Kikuyu Traditional Marriage Ceremony (Kenya)

The Kikuyu people have a rich tradition of marriage. The ceremony is typically held at the bride’s home.

How to do it: Follow these steps: 

  • Ngurario: Negotiation between families over a dowry (livestock, money, goods).
  • Kuhuria: Ritual slaughter of an animal for cleansing and a shared meal.
  • Gitura: Gift exchange between bride and groom (clothing for groom, jewelry for bride).
  • Iria Mugo: Blessing of the couple by an elder with words of advice.
  • Ngwendi: A celebratory feast for family and friends.

Conclusion: Unique Wedding Traditions from Around Africa 

These unique wedding traditions offer a vibrant blend of African culture. From the dramatic flair of the Yoruba knocking ceremony to the artistic beauty of Sudanese henna, each custom adds depth to your celebration.

The Kikuyu four elements tasting prepares you for life’s journey, while the West African kola nut ceremony emphasizes community blessings.

By weaving these traditions into your wedding, you’re not just planning an event – you’re continuing a legacy of rich cultural practices. Which of these unique wedding traditions calls to your heart? 

Remember, in the spirit of African ubuntu (I am because we are), your wedding is a celebration of not just your union, but of your entire community.

READ: Top 5 Secrets to Writing Unforgettable Wedding Vows

Crafting the perfect words to express the depth of your love is not a walk in the park. 

In this article, we’ll unveil the top 5 secrets to writing unforgettable wedding vows that will leave a lasting impression.

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