google-site-verification: googlecb803562c78427f3.html African Customary Marriages | Kingdom of Africa



Posted by Florian Cheval on


Get to know what to expect before attending your first African wedding. Remember that customs vary greatly between religions and ethnic groups on the continent.

Africa is a vast and diverse continent, and customs regarding marriage vary greatly depending on the region, nation, religion and ethnic group of the couple. even though basic mechanics of the ceremony (readings, vows and symbolic rituals) are probably familiar to you, there will be some cultural differences that you will definitely want to know about.

Here are some of the most popular African wedding customs that you might see as a guest.

Moroccan boubou for wedding - kingdom of Africa


This predominantly Muslim region of Africa includes Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.

It is traditional for brides in this region to take a ritual bath, called Hamam , to purify oneself before marriage. Afterwards, the bride and her loved ones gather for a henna party, where their hands and feet are decorated with the traditional dye for good luck. If you are part of the African bridal party or a close friend of the bride, you might also be invited the day before the wedding.

North African marriages being almost always Muslims , rituals and customs will come from Islam. It is important to dress conservatively in the mosque for the ceremony (no bare arms or legs for either gender), and for women, to wear a scarf or turban to cover your head. You will also be asked to remove your shoes before entering the ceremony location. A Muslim wedding will include a short ceremony called "Nikah", which is completely gender segregated.

Turban north africa

The wedding reception can also be completely separate, with different rooms for men and women, or partially separated with a partition in the middle or men and women at different tables.


Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Senegal are some of the West African nations.

Traditional Yoruba weddings feature a ritual called “Tasting of the Elements,” which represents the balance of emotions in a relationship. Sour, hot, sweet, and bitter foods or drinks are presented to the couple by the officiant and consumed to show that they are willing to go through the good and bad times of life together.

Nigerian boubou for wedding

The Igbo are another Nigerian tribe whose wedding rituals are unique. Sharing the kola nut is native to this tribe and can be done in a traditional ceremony. The couple symbolically shares this small nut during the ceremony, then keeps the rest at home as a reminder of their mutual commitment.

The aso ebi is a tradition that spans much of West Africa and consists of ceremonial clothing worn not only by bridesmaids, but also by close friends, sisters and brothers. cousins ​​of the bride will all wear for the wedding. The mother of the bride and mother of the groom can also decide to choose their own fabric for their loved ones and associates to wear as well. The aso ebi is a way of showing your closeness to the family during ceremonies.


Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania are some of the major nations of East Africa.

Massai beaded necklace

The Swahili people originate from Kenya, Tanzania and parts of Central Africa as well. Many people in this part of the continent practice Islam, and their marriage customs reflect those of other Islamic cultures. As with North Africans and Indians, Swahili weddings feature a pre-wedding henna party for the bride, bridesmaids and other women close to her. Swahili bride and groom and their friends gather for a night of pre-wedding combat dancing called Kirumbizi .

The Amhara people originate from parts of Ethiopia and their traditional weddings feature clothing made of Habesha fabric . Brides wear elegant white dresses made from this fabric with gold or red trim, and accents of deep green, bright blue or rich black. The groom's outfit can be a western suit or a long coat with pants in the same fabric.

Maasai wedding girl

Ethiopian Orthodoxy is one of the most popular religions in the region, and many Ethiopian American couples will have their weddings this way. With teachings similar to those of the Greek Orthodox and Catholic religions, these weddings always take place in a church and highlight the symbolism of the Holy Trinity.


South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and Congo are included in this region.

The Zulus are a large ethnic group that extends into this region. The traditional Zulu wedding ceremony is called Umabo , although couples in these countries also normally have a "white wedding", or westernized ceremony, on another day. You can be invited to both ceremonies.

South African pearl necklace for wedding

Traditionally, an Umabo was held at the home of the groom's parents, but modern couples can adapt it. Zulu brides wear a cowhide skirt, reserved for married women, and a special headdress, called Isicholo , which is also a sign of marriage. The ceremony begins with the groom's father welcoming his new daughter-in-law, then the bride's father gives his daughter to his new family. Family and guests typically sit on lawn rugs, while the bride's sisters and bridesmaids bring gifts from her to her in-laws.

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