In Africa, marriages are considered sacred as they solidify family bonds and signify birth of new life and new hope for the community. Weddings in the African Community adhere to set beliefs and traditions such as payment of dowry, meeting of the prospective in-law families’ and even slaughter of cattle to commemorate the union of two families.
Due to the diversity in cultures and traditions among many African, African weddings have few factors in common. One of the common practices is the involvement of the community at large. Women would traditionally be in charge of hospitality while their male counterparts handle traditional rites and related tasks
The bride and groom’s mothers are given the most important duties such as sourcing for venues, accompanying the bride to supplier appointments, dress fittings for the bride and bridal party and managing the guest list. They help in bringing the bride’s dream wedding to fruition by putting their great organizational skills to use. The couple’s parents, especially the mothers essentially take up the role of wedding planner.
Sisters, relatives and friends particularly make up the bridal party. They offer support both financially and morally, and they also take up such duties as monitoring the younger bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys. They tag along to dress fittings, attend pre-wedding ceremonies such as payment of dowry and the family introduction parties.
Bridesmaids plan for the fast approaching bridal shower/hen-night events that are meant to de-stress the bride by allowing her to reminisce and celebrate her soon to be terminated singlehood and prepare her for marriage life. Bridesmaids can pay for their dresses, make-up and accessories for the big day.
Aunts and the older relatives take up the role of mentors to the bride before the wedding. They teach the future wife necessary skills to enable her make a wonderful wife and mother. They also help the bride’s mother with catering and other hospitality duties at the wedding and even during future visits by the in-laws. Aunts can also serve as the “matron” who leads the Cake Cutting ceremony during the wedding.
Male relatives in today’s African weddings deal with logistics such as transport, entertainment and other activities that ensure the big day is a success. Traditionally, the male relatives had the duty to negotiate and receive the bride price. In some communities, the uncles and brothers still slaughter animals to be roasted during the traditional ceremonies or even during the wedding.