So, you’ve been invited to a Ghanaian wedding? Or maybe, you’re just interested in different cultures and their customs? So, in this article, we will share with you the rich and vibrant Ghanaian wedding traditions. Let’s get started!
The origins of Ghana’s wedding customs are a bit mysterious, but they’ve managed to keep these traditions alive and modern over the years. Normally, after only two or three dates, a man will ask a woman to marry him, because waiting longer could be seen as not being serious about the relationship.
Once they’re engaged, they begin a variety of traditional events before the wedding, which often includes giving presents and holding special ceremonies.
With the pre-wedding traditions, we will provide you with some traditions in this wedding culture to help you understand clearly:
“Knocking on the Door”
Before a traditional Ghanaian wedding, there’s a must-do ceremony known as “knocking” or “Kokooko”, also referred to as “Opon-akyi bo”. During this time, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family to share their son’s intention to marry. This ceremony is more than just a tradition – it’s an important opportunity for both families to meet and get to know each other.
After the marriage proposal is approved, the couple can decide on their wedding date and present the “engagement” list. Normally, this list includes various gifts such as the bride’s clothing, jewelry, cash, or other mementos for her parents.
In addition, there’s a special monetary gift, known as Akonta Sikan, that is given to the bride’s brothers as an expression of gratitude.
The Regal Wedding Attire
On their special day, the couple dresses up in special clothes that make them feel like kings and queens. So, they wear a traditional African fabric known as kente cloth. This cloth is hand-woven from silk and cotton and is often bright and beautifully patterned or decorated with embroidery. To add a touch of sparkle, they wear gold jewelry.
The bride might wear her kente as a dress or as a separate top and skirt, while the groom might wear his like a toga or a loose, flowing robe called an Agbada. Besides, the bride also puts on a special headpiece that looks like a crown, called a “Tekua”.
The colors they choose for their clothes have special meanings. For instance, gold means wealth or being royal, pink represents peace and gentleness, blue is a symbol of love, harmony, and peace as it represents the sky, while maroon is believed to keep evil away.
Guest Wedding Attire
Just like the couple, the guests at the wedding also dress up in their finest traditional outfits. Everyone puts on bright, beautiful clothes in all sorts of designs and colors. They wear everything from intricate patterns to solid colors, and sometimes their outfits even match the wedding theme. Thus, this creates a lively, colorful atmosphere that adds to the joy and excitement of the wedding.
After the pre-wedding traditions, now we move on to some customs in the Glorious Ghanaian Wedding:
Music from traditional “adowa”
A Ghanaian wedding is always a lively event, often featuring traditional music like “adowa“. This kind of music is cheerful and full of joy, and it usually plays as the bride enters the ceremony. So, it creates a fun atmosphere and gets everyone in the mood to celebrate.
During the ceremony, the groom presents the “Aye-yo-dee” gifts that can include items such as jewelry, clothes, and even household items, symbolizing his readiness to provide for his new family.
Giving her consent three times
Moreover, one of the most interesting parts of this wedding is when the bride gives her consent to the marriage not just once, but three times. Thus, it shows that she’s completely sure about her decision to marry her groom, and it’s her way of showing her full commitment to him.
In addition, another important part of the wedding ceremony involves the groom inviting drinks, like palm wine or Schnapps, to the bride’s father. This tradition is known as Tiri Nasa in Ghanaian culture.
Now, we come up with the interesting part of the Ghanaian wedding:
Music and Dance
After the ceremony, there’s a big party with food, music, and dancing. The bride and groom take the time to meet and thank everyone for being there. They also give out special gifts like chocolates, mugs, or pens. Everyone gets to enjoy the traditional Ghanaian music, eat local food, and just have fun celebrating the new husband and wife.
During the couple’s first dance, there’s a fun tradition where people throw money at them. It’s a fun game for the guests, but it’s also a nice way to help the newlyweds start their new life with a little extra cash. Afterward, the couple cuts the cake and makes speeches. Sometimes, if guests have come from far away, there might be extra events like a special lunch for them.
Traditional Wedding Food, Drinks & Desserts
Furthermore, a Ghanaian wedding wouldn’t be complete without some delicious food! Guests get to enjoy traditional dishes like Jollof rice, Fufu, Banku, and Okro stew. And the meal would not be complete without drinks like Palm wine and tasty traditional cakes for dessert.
Once the wedding is over, the “Nansiung-Iika” or “Closing of the Gate or Entrance” ceremony takes place. This marks the end of the wedding celebrations and the beginning of the couple’s life together as husband and wife. It’s a special moment where everyone wishes the couple all the best for their new life together.
Normally, the items involved in this ceremony can consist of a hen, cola nuts, a hoe, or even a sheep. When the bride’s paternal family accepts these offerings, it means the successful conclusion of the ritual.
Ghanaian wedding traditions are a rich blend of culture, symbolism, and celebration. They provide a fascinating insight into the country’s heritage, and the value Ghanaians place on family, unity, and joy. Next time you find yourself invited to this wedding, not only will you appreciate the vibrant celebrations, but you’ll also understand the deep cultural meanings behind each ritual.
- What does a traditional Ghanaian wedding look like?
During a traditional Ghanaian wedding, the couple, along with the wedding party, wears majestic kente cloth, symbolizing royalty. And these gifts are given to the bride and her family, and entertainment in the form of music and dancing is a central part of the ceremony.
- What are the essentials of traditional marriage in Ghana?
Marriage customs in Ghana follow the customs of the ethnic group to which the couple belongs. Typically, this includes a religious ceremony followed by a civic registration known as a wedding.
- Who pays the bill for a Ghanaian wedding?
For a Ghanaian wedding, it is traditional for the bride's family to cover the costs of both the wedding and the reception. This includes entertainment, food, and drinks, ensuring that guests are well-catered to and can fully enjoy the celebration.