A wedding in American society is about a man and a woman starting a life together. Weddings in Africa-ancient and current-center on the combining of two families. Brides are part of the social universe in traditional African culture. They were seen as an important link between the ancestors and the unborn.
An African American Wedding
When a bride in the United States desires an “African-style wedding”, she may be referring to the tradition of Yoruba. This very spiritual service reflects the depth of the African family by the sharing of gifts and love.
The ceremony process may begin about a month before the wedding with a spiritual reading. Elements of the actual ceremony may include a Libation (a prayer with an offering, usually water or liquor offered by an elder). This ritual calls upon and asks God’s blessing and the blessings of ancestral spirits. The groom verbally seeks permission from the bride’s mother to marry her daughter.
Gifts are presented to the bride’s family symbolizing the ability of the groom to take care of this woman. They are accepted by the bride’s father. Other elements of the ceremony may include a tasting and explanation of spices, prayers, exchange of rings. A great celebration follows.
African Culture & Tradition
Many African Americans desire a wedding which reflects their native heritage. Africa is made up of various different countries, each of which may have their own traditions. Many of these traditions would not be acceptable to the African American bride as it may require lifestyle changes which would be unacceptable.
Major Religious Beliefs
Africa is comprised of many religious and non-religious groups. The major religious cultures are Muslim, Christians (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and others), ethnic religionist, non-christian, Hindu and Baha’i.
An African woven cloth serves the function of reflecting personal, societal, religious and political culture. African American couples who chose a more American flare may chose the traditional white bridal gown for the bride and the groom a tuxedo. The traditional color of African royalty is purple, accented with gold. These may be used as accent colors worn by the bridal party.
The most widely known African American wedding tradition is “jumping the broom”. This tradition was started in southern colonies of the United States during the days of slavery. Marriage for field hands was uneconomical and prohibited, but for house and yard servants and for artisans it was sometimes permitted but without legal sanction.
‘Jumping the broom’ is a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new. History tells us that the ancestral roots of this ritual began deep in the heart of America.
The African American wedding ceremony employs, symbols, rituals, traditions, and ideological concept out of the African experience, the African American wedding ceremony strikes a deep natural, harmonious chord inherent in the subconscious psyche of African Americans. The spontaneity, the congregational involvement and the rituals all combine to create an African inspired ambiance that “fits well” and lets African Americans know that it is naturally theirs.