Your wedding day is special in more ways than one. It’s a time for celebration and rituals that connect you to each other, your family and friends, and even history itself! Black wedding traditions are infused with symbolism, style, and spirituality from communities all over the world.By: Meghan Ely
Photo: Cherise Richards Photography
Let's explore together how these beautiful customs serve as a reminder of shared heritage while creating an everlasting bond between a couple starting their own journey together.
"One of my favorite aspects of Liberian Wedding Tradition is The Grand March. It gives me chills to see everyone take part in tradition at once, multiple generations participating, with not everyone necessarily from the same culture but enjoying this very traditional and impactful moment that is so closely tied to our culture.
You and your partner begin by being linked arm in arm and join what can best be described as a double-row conga line. An elder Liberian couple leads the way, followed by the wedding couple, directly followed by their parents and all other participants parading through the reception to an upbeat Liberian song. Although you may start arm in arm as a pair, this fun tradition will lead you all around with your arms touching the shoulders of those in front of you, at one point going in completely opposite directions and finding your way back together and beneath a bridge of beautiful humans holding hands as a symbol of unity, joy, and togetherness at weddings and other cultural celebrations." —Oniki Hardtman, Oh Niki Occasions
"There are many renditions of the money dance at Black weddings. However, t'he most popular rendition of this dance originated by the Yoruba people in Nigerias Southwest, and it is a tradition loved by many Nigerians and often times seen at many Black weddings that may or may not have Nigerian influence. Money spraying in the Nigerian/Black community symbolizes a showering of happiness, good fortune, and a display of the guest's affection for the couple. During the money dance, the bride and groom are ushered in and dance behind the wedding party. Guests then encircle the couple on the dance floor and come forward, placing bills on their forehead, allowing them to 'rain down.' The tradition is a fun way for the couple to celebrate happiness and good fortune and the start of a new life of prosperity together." —Sacoya Jenkins, Jenkins & Co. Weddings
"Caribbean flag dance. The couple provides flags from their country of origin that will be passed out to the guests during a designated song/dance. This represents their love of country but also a show of their identity and pride in their culture. Some countries have a specific song that they will dance to, and others just pick a popular Caribbean song." —Martine Dardignac, Wedding MD
Tying the knot. "Still widely used in ceremonies today as a declaration of love, this tradition dates back to African and Celtic traditions. A Kente cloth or rope is braided by the couple to symbolize connecting them together. That rope is then used to tie their wrists together after vows have been said, demonstrating that the couple is bonded together. You can cut a strong cloth with a beautiful pattern into strips or use three pieces of heavy rope to create the braid. After the ceremony, the braided knot can be used as a wonderful keepsake to commemorate your special day." —Deanna Evans, De Evans Events
"Igba Nkwu Igbo Nigerian Tradition. When a couple has both American and African American traditions, two separate ceremonies can be planned, or this tradition can take place during the reception. A traditional Igbo Ceremony is a much longer process. Still, for the sake of timing on a wedding day, a mini ceremony includes opening remarks from the groom's father addressing all attendees about the importance of love, marriage, and the purpose of the couple becoming united as one. From there, the groom goes into hiding within the crowd while the bride, carrying wine, and her bridesmaids walk through the room to celebratory music, looking for her groom. When she locates her groom and he takes a sip of the wine, it is determined that he is her husband, and the celebration elevates with singing, dancing, and the traditional money dance, which represents happiness, good fortune, and the family's expression of helping the couple get off on a good start." —Orsella Hughes, Serenity Ceremonies by Rev. Orsella
"Honoring your frat/sorority. There are nine established black fraternities and sororities, according to the NPHC — better known as the Divine 9. Couples can honor their respective fraternities and sororities in many different ways. Traditionally, if the couple both have Greek letters, then they will each have a moment to honor their respective letters with a stroll which includes their line sisters/brothers and/or any other known sisters/brothers attending join in. Members of Delta Sigma Theta will typically stroll to 'Got to Real' by Cheryl Lynn." —Rebecca Lang, L3 Events
"Tasting of the Four Elements. This tradition is a fun way to get newlyweds thinking about the sweetness, bitterness, sour and hot aspects of becoming one. Marriage is a journey filled with expected and unexpected experiences. When you keep things in perspective and support one another on a regular basis, challenging times won't stand a chance." —Latasha Fields, L Prestigious Events
Knocking Ceremony. "Many Africans have the tradition of a cultural wedding ceremony which is referred to as the traditional Knocking Ceremony. It is typically held on a day that precedes the main western wedding day and is significant in that the family of the groom ceremoniously visits the family of the bride to "knock on their door" to request her hand in marriage.
The Knocking Ceremony has different rites, which vary by culture. However, the predominant and common practice is that the families officially meet prior to the wedding to know each other, make merry with food and drinks, exchange gifts, and the groom's family pays the bride price if there is one being requested." —Adeola Damie, Celebration Events MGMT
Religious rituals. "Church and religion serve as purpose, hope, and the guiding light of the daily walk of life for Black people. Over the years with evolving trends with weddings, Black couples still incorporate a part of their religion/spirituality into their wedding ceremony. Communion, a ritual laden with spiritual meaning where bread and wine are consecrated and shared, is one such tradition.
During the ceremony, bread and wine is displayed on fine China or crystal on a table at the altar, and blessed by the officiant as a representation of the last supper. This sacrament provides the couple with peace of mind that they are in one accord in the guidance of their marriage and future while publicly acknowledging before family and friends of their commitment to Christ." —Tara Melvin, Perfect Planning Events
However you choose to celebrate your Big Day and honor your culture, make sure that you and your partner are staying true to yourselves. Incorporating these traditions can connect with your roots, and it's a wonderful way to pay homage to the generations that have come before you.