So, you’ve been invited to a Ghanaian wedding? Look forward to it—you will be experiencing the marriage ceremony of two individuals and their families in a display of rich culture filled with traditional rituals. Here’s what you can expect:
The new couple will dress to the nines for their Ghanaian wedding. This includes brightly colored and intricately patterned or embroidered kente fabric in traditional African fashion, made of handwoven silk and cotton, accompanied by resplendent gold jewelry. The bride wears a traditional headdress, sometimes resembling a crown for the wedding ceremony. Traditional wedding attire may also feature adinkra symbols and you will find the kente cloth making an appearance in the décor or table arrangements, too.
Members of both families will sit across from each other at the wedding venue and spokespersons assigned to each party engage in friendly banter, asking for the bride’s hand in marriage. There is some back and forth as jokes are exchanged and demands are made before agreeing to hand over the bride. A fun little precursor to the joyous moment of marriage that both families are now involved in.
In a traditional Ghanaian wedding, gifts are presented to the bride and her family, including a wedding registry that serves the purpose of a dowry, listing things she needs to begin her new life. This is a pretty elaborate list and includes gifts for the parents and siblings, but primarily comprises personal effects, household items, and other presents for the bride. These gifts are typically presented at the wedding ceremony in a decorative display.
As it is in a traditional wedding, the arrival of the bride is always the star attraction of the party. But at Ghanaian weddings, this can be a drawn-out process—especially if there’s a lot of gifting involved. The bride makes an appearance with much fanfare and goes around greeting the family of the groom, welcoming them to her home, and accepting the gifts presented to her and her family.
A symbolic aspect of the Ghanaian wedding is the bride giving her consent when asked for her hand in marriage. This is done three times, as a matter of denoting that she is sure of her decision and not forced into an alliance. Though a dated tradition, it is very much a part of modern weddings and included in the day’s proceedings. The bride is then presented to the groom’s family after everyone present has borne witness to her accepting the proposal.
Whether invited to the traditional wedding or the church ceremony, any wedding-appropriate formal attire is welcome. If you do choose to wear traditional Ghanaian attire to the wedding, rest assured that’s also welcome. In this special type of African wedding, with all the bright colors and gorgeous designs, the rest of the wedding party is wearing, you will fit right in. If in doubt, check in with the wedding party.
Music is a big part of the ceremony, so expect to hear gospel songs, as well as Afro beats. The groom’s family enters with music when bringing the bride’s gifts, the bride’s family enters with music when she makes her grand entry, and there’s generally music all around accompanying every aspect of the wedding. Brush up on the latest tunes or check in with the bridal party, so you can enjoy some of the songs.
Indulge in traditional Ghanaian fares, such as banks and grilled fish, red bean and fish stew with fried plantain, roast goat, roast ripe plantain, jollof rice… the list goes on. Food is a big part of the wedding traditions, and a large spread with multiple dishes is the norm. Be ready to head over for seconds, as the celebratory meal is usually served buffet-style after the wedding ceremony.
Though in Ghanaian culture this is historically done weeks or months before the wedding day, where the groom and his family go to the bride’s home to present the marriage proposal and ask her family for her hand in marriage, this is now sometimes incorporated on the day of the wedding just ahead of the rest of the festivities planned for the day.
Be prepared for the catchy music, beautiful clothing, and equally happy gathering of family members at a traditional Ghanaian wedding as you celebrate the newly wedded couple on their special day.