Afrocentric Ceremony Personalization Ideas

by Robin Beth Schaer

Personalizing a wedding with African-American, Caribbean, and African rituals can be as simple as accenting the bridal party's outfits with traditional African fabric, or as detailed as creating symbolic wedding stationery. Get inspired by the ideas below.

The Right Invite

Invitations set the mood for your wedding, reflecting the day's formailty as well as your cultural backgrounds and personalities. If you're looking to add Afrocentric style to your invite, choose an African motif background; feature a painting by a Caribbean artist; create scrolls tied with raffia; or select handmade paper with an inscription about love by a famous African-American poet. To clue people in, consider using wording such as: "Our new beginning will be honored in the African tradition;" or "You are invited to a celebration of our history, our families, and our love." Follow suit with a coordinating program that explains all your ceremony traditions.

Your Wedding Wear

A great way to convey your heritage is through clothing. It can be as simple as bridesmaids wrapped in African shawls and groomsmen with kente cloth cummerbunds and bowties, or as elaborate as the groom and groomsmen in traditional Nigerian tunics and pants called agbada and the bride and bridesmaids in asooke fugu, colorful Nigerian skirts, jackets, and headwraps. There are many bridal designers that combine modern styles with ethnic fabrics and details. Look in the yellow pages and check with local ethnic stores to find fabric suppliers and garb designers.

Meaningful Music

African drummers are a powerful addition to any Afrocentric wedding. You can walk down the aisle to their rich sounds or have them lead a bridal march after the ceremony. The sound of drums also has historical significance for African-Americans since drums were outlawed during slavery because they were seen as a coded means of communication between the slaves. Check with local music schools, African-American newspapers, and cultural centers to find drummers in your area.

Bands With a Bang

The tradition of wearing a wedding band dates back to ancient Egypt, where unbroken bands, symbolizing eternity, were worn on the finger they believed was directly connected to the heart -- still known today as the ring finger. Today, many African-Americans choose wedding bands with African designs such as the ankh, which represents eternity, or adinkra symbols from Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Look for a jeweler that carries a variety of different styles, or can help you create your own.

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