Have yourself the perfect African themed wedding

Have yourself the perfect African themed wedding

African weddings are the new trend in wedding celebration and we are going to see more of them in 2023. 

Africans are known for their fashion trends, their dancing, their food, their strong cultural norms and so many other good things. And for so long, these have been put aside in favour of the more westernized cultural practices. The trend is changing though and we are beginning to see a blend of both Western culture and African themes culminating into awesome wedding celebrations.   

When the African charm visits a wedding, it automatically becomes a memorable wedding. It touches every aspect of it, the dress code, the décor, the food and every other thing. Have you been planning an African-themed wedding? Skip the hustle, let’s guide you through what could give you that African feel.

1. Hairstyle

Wedding hairstyle matters. And you can tell an African bride by her braids. Those with long natural hair typically roll the hair into large coils to form a high bun. Then accessorize it with a bright headband and let the ensemble do the talking. Others hold it up by a hairband (that matches the dress) and leave the hair with a little flare creating a curious sight. There are also braided finger waves which give you a romantic and dazzling wedding look.

Glamorous bride had her braids held up in finger waves with matching hair bands Credit: Twitter

2. Groom

The groom in an African themed setting can choose among the many possible options. Either fully traditional cultural wear depending on the culture or a blend of African and western or eastern attire. Please do your research about the culture you hope to adopt. Endeavour to have your hairstyle match the tradition in which the wedding is being conducted.

Groom can also blend African culture with Western fashion Credit: Twitter

3. Bridal Dress

The Bridal dress should not be forgotten when adopting an African theme. Most African couples are now making a blend of African prints and white dress in their gowns. With a great fashion designer or tailor, they always look unique and elegant.

An elegant armless white mermaid wedding dress with African print ruffles at the bottom Credit: Ghana Fashion

4. Go fully traditional

Depending on your appetite for tradition, you could also consider going fully traditional. You could wear the full traditional attire of your culture with matching accessories like necklaces, bangles, headband and other jewellery. If you choose to go this route, go all out. Be unique, be traditional! But please be careful not to shock your guests. Match your attire with your audience.

Ndebele traditional brides wear leopard skin and lots of beads. Credit: Thethelela media

5. Changing dress

Don’t forget to give us a colourful changing dress that is also patterned based on traditional African wedding attire. Your guests will be looking out for it. Be creative with it but also make sure it gives you room to breathe and dance when that time comes.

Have a unique changing dress but let it allow you to dance Credit: Etsy UK

6. Maids

Maids on the bridal entourage can be dramatic at times. But once the theme is decided, they too should equally adopt African style in their dresscode. Pick your theme colours and then get a designer who understands the assignment to tailor your maids dresses accordingly. 

Maids dress in black dresses with kikoyi headbands from the Buganda culture

7. The parents

The parents of both the groom and the bride should not be left out when planning an African themed wedding. Their dress code too needs to match the theme for the day. Get them new attire especially if what they have is old and not suitable for an important function like a wedding.

Let parents dress in their traditional wear- It’s always colourful

8. Venue

Because in Africa, weddings are a communal thing, it was rare that they were celebrated indoors. If you are going to pull off an African themed wedding, you would most probably consider having it in open gardens without a tent. That way everyone gets to meet or at least see everyone. It’s the African way! But because African weather is also mostly tropical and therefore unpredictable, you can also still have a tent hoisted for your function but then the decorator should be able to pull off great décor to match the theme.

The plush green grounds at Dolphin suites are ideal for an African themed wedding

9. The Décor 

Though African traditional wedding celebrations were generally quite over the top in celebration, they generally were never over the top in decoration. If you want to pull off a decent African traditional themed wedding, be prepared to be more simple in the design of the bridal stage and décor as a whole. Simple draping with a bit of African print or traditional African flowers will do the magic. The decorator can then add a few other African traditional items like calabashes, baskets and pipes to accentuate the look.

The African themed bridal stage is colourful but simple Credit: Salma Kante (Pinterest)

10. Guest sitting arrangement

In the African setting, meals are not merely for feeding those who share in them but for interaction and establishing bonds. Your table arrangement should make sure it fosters these bonds. Rectangular tables may therefore be preferable to the circular tables. The decorator should match them with some African prints to match with the rest of the décor.

 Arrange the table to foster communication. Lace it with African designs Credit: Dapi Marie-joel (Pinterest)

11. Florals 

Wedding flowers were not so much and African traditional item. Instead tropical shrubs, leaves and grasses were. If you are considering an African themed wedding, consider adopting more leaves, plants and shrubs as part of your décor design. A few flowers could also suffice but they should not be the core of the décor. 

Tropical African plants in the past were plucked and used to decorate at weddings

12. Food

Africans are known for their numerous varieties of food and no better place than to treat your guests to a good African themed buffet than at a wedding. Pick the traditional food you want prepared, and let the wedding caterer show competence to prepare it the traditional way.

 Luwombo is a rich part of Uganda (especially Buganda) traditional food Credit: Trip Advisor

13. The drinks

If you choose to go African, then forget not to include locally made drinks on your wedding menu. Some are alcoholic but others are not. The locally made brews are sentimental for especially elders who are taken back to their days growing up and stealthily sipping at these drinks without their parents’ permission. They relive these memories as they sip away. 

Bushera is a non-alcoholic drink made out of millet served in Rwanda and Uganda Credit: Red Basket

14. Cake

The design of the wedding cake though a modern thing, can be perfectly blended with African patterns to give it a feel of the African wedding theme that is being adopted. Consider also adopting the traditional tiered route perhaps with some lace icing and a few ribbons in African print.

A Cake with African designs is a statement in itself. Credit: Theme Afrique

15. Ushers

When selecting ushers for your wedding day, make sure they too get the memo. They should understand the tradition of the people whose wedding is being conducted and should dress accordingly.

Ushers should dress in the tradition for which the wedding is being conducted Credit: twitter

16. The Guests

The most important thing to consider about guests is the sitting arrangement. In most African traditions, parents and elders usually occupy the most prominent seats at celebrations. And weddings are no exception. Also consider sharing your theme with your guests so they can turn up dressed for the occasion.

Let guests dress up according to the theme Credit: Pinterest

17. Emcee

The Emcee you pick should be one who is able to speak the African language in which you are conducting the wedding ceremony but also knows the traditions of that culture. If they speak more than one local language, that is even better. Don’t embarrass yourself by hiring an Emcee who will abuse the traditions or insult elders whether knowingly or unknowingly. In African, culture this is taboo. The Emcee should also dress for the occasion-within the wedding’s theme.

Ronnie Habasa (Habzo) will always dress for the occasion Credit: Twitter

18. Entertainment/Music

What is an African themed wedding without African entertainers? Let the African entertainers be the main act at your wedding. Their energy and folklore will take you back to our old traditional communal appeal for which marriage and weddings were sublime. If you choose to go for a live band, let it play only African music. The same should suffice for a Deejay’s selection in case you opt for it instead.

Burundian dancers are known for their energetic dances and heavy drums Credit: New York Times

19. The wedding cards

In Africa, we carry physical invitation cards to our guests especially the elders. It is both a sign of respect but also the seriousness with which we treat weddings. When you deliver the card, you are telling the guest, ‘…I have found someone I want to build my life with, come join me to celebrate this momentous occasion…’  If you want to put an African feel to the wedding, get a wedding card invitation designer that will embed a bit of African print in your design. Where possible, it could combine both cloth and board for longevity. 

Add some fine African print to your wedding card: Credit: Kente Designs 

20. The poses

Oh wait, before we forget, don’t hesitate to go African with your wedding photo poses. An African themed wedding is not complete until the photographs say so. Hold your bride by the shoulder if you can but if you are the more conservative type just hold hands together. Africans have not always been known for public display of affection. And take many communal photos. Add a little bit of playfulness to it! It’s the African way!

Be playful with your poses, it’s an African thing! Credit: Kgalelo Pono (Pinterest)

Now you are ready to get married like an African. If you still have doubts, reach us at planner@nyomplanet.com. Also feel free to visit the nyom planet blogsite for more blogs like this. 

Cover photo credit: (Sidoine photography)

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