The Ndebele wedding is celebrated in three stages, this can take several years. The first stage is Labola for the bride; this is paid in instalments of both money and livestock. The second stage is a two-week sequestration of the bride during which time other women teach the bride how to be a good wife and the third stage is completed when the bride has her first child.

The groom to be sends a letter to the bride’s family to request a date for the Labola negotiation. He then has to purchase a sheep; some blankets, a broom and a few clothes for the girl’s family. The grooms parents then visit the brides parents and pay the Labola, after this they take the girl to the boys family to get to know him and his family.

Preparation for the wedding day will include writing up a guest list and sending out of the invitations, this happen two weeks before the wedding day. Food is bought and cooked the traditional way this will include ‘mielie pap’ (traditional maize meal) meat and salads, fruit, sweets and cake are served as dessert on the day.

The official ceremony will take place in a church, family members will be present for this so that they can witness the couple saying their wedding vows and the placing of rings on each others fingers. After the church ceremony the couple will change into traditional clothes and go with the guests to the girls home to eat. After they have finished to eat the couple will sit at a table, which has been especially decorated for them. Everyone present will talk to the couple and give them gifts.

The groom will then thank the guests where after they will go to his home. The oldest boy in the family will be there together with all the parents and grand-parents to give the girl an Ndebele name.

 

How do Filipinos celebrate weddings may sound strange to foreigners, but if they do get a chance to witness a traditional Filipino wedding, they will certainly love the experience. Weddings in the Philippines are never a one-day event. The wedding preparation takes months. And then comes the wedding day itself which in most cases begins from sun-up to sundown.

Filipino weddings are typically solemnized in the church, officiated by a Catholic priest or a pastor, depending on the religion of the couple. Garden weddings have become quite popular these days, too, but usually they are allowed only when it is not going to be a Catholic wedding.. If it is, the couple must have been married in civil rites first for them to obtain permission to get married in a garden or non-church setting.

Catholic wedding ceremonies, regardless of where thuey are celebrated, usually takes more than an hour to finish. The bride arrives in a bridal car, a carriage, or mode of transportation for that matter just minutes before the wedding. Then the church bells ring, signaling the start of the ceremony. The wedding ceremony begins with the processional of the wedding entourage composed of the groom, the parents of the groom, the principal sponsors (some have as many as 20 pairs of principal sponsors!) who will stand as witnesses, secondary sponsors who will light the candles, and put on the veil and cord, the maid or matron of honor, the best man, the bride’s maids and junior bride’s maids, the coin bearer, the ring bearer, the bible bearer, the flower girls, and finally the bride who may or may not be accompanied by her parents. Sometimes, the processional alone can take 20 minutes already!

The mass proper then begins; incorporated therein are the wedding rituals such as the exchange of vows, the exchange of rings, and the giving of the arrhae. A photo shoot after the mass is customary. This can take another 30 minutes to one hour. If you want this portion to be organized, better get the services of a professional photographer who has vast experience taking wedding photographs.

After the wedding, the guests proceed to the reception. It can be in a hotel or in the bride’s residence. Hotel wedding receptions can be very expensive, but they can be less stressful for the couple and their families as they no longer need to stress themselves out any more than they already have. Wedding receptions held in the house are more comfortable and fun, though. All the neighbors get to be invited which make the affair very memorable. They are also less expensive, but can be more tiring.

During the wedding reception, the usual rituals, such as the slicing of the cake, the throwing and catching of bouquet and garter, and the releasing of doves, are observed, with some variations. There is an abundance of food, lots of table-hopping, greeting friends and guests, picture-taking, dancing, singing, and tears of joy.

So how do Filipinos celebrate weddings? Well, Filipino weddings are joyously celebrated, that’s for sure!

 

It is always interesting to study the history of weddings of different cultures. One can find that some of the old traditions have been carried forward to the current weddings.

In Italy, to this day marriages are not performed during Lent and Advent in May or August. Sunday was declared the best day for the marriage and June was (and is) considered the ideal month to marry. This is based on the Roman goddess Junio, representing safety of home, marriage, and childbirth.

In some families the marriages were arranged by the families of the bride and groom. A male relative of the groom would visit with the father of the intended bride and ask for her hand in marriage. Sometimes a matchmaker was used to carry a message to the intended bride’s family. Once an agreement between the families was reached, the couple was declared engaged. The prospective bride was expected to immediately start gathering clothing (even for her future husband), furniture, and other items for the home. This became known as the bride’s ‘trousseau’. If the engagement ring contained gold it was not to be worn until she received the gold wedding band as it was seen as bad luck to wear gold without being married.

In olden times a great deal of the Italian wedding traditions consisted of warding off evil spirits. The groom would be sure to have something iron on his person to ward off the evil eye. The wedding veil was for the purpose of warding off evil spirits they may try to attack the bride and tearing the veil after the ceremony was considered good luck. The bride was not to have a complete bridal gown until the wedding day. It was to remain incomplete until she walked down the church aisle. Presumably a final stitch was made somewhere on the dress at the entrance of the church. The groom would wait at the front of the church and present the bride with a bouquet of flowers and herbs, to ward off the evil spirits.

At other times the groom would pick the bride up and walk her to the church. In this case a log and a saw would be placed in their path and they had to saw it into two pieces to show their union. If the bride walked to the church, without the groom, the local people often put things in her path such as a broom, beggar, crying baby. How she handled these items showed if she would be a good wife, mother, would be kind, etc.

In the ceremony the groom stood to the right of the bride, thus freeing his sword hand, just in case someone tried to steal his bride. Ten witnesses were required to make the ceremony official; hence the need for a large bridal party. They were dressed like the bride and groom to confuse the jealous spirits. The bride carried (and still does in most weddings) a silk or satin purse for guests to deposit their money gifts in as a way to help with the expenses. Another way money was raised was by the best man cutting the groom’s tie into pieces and selling them to guests at the wedding.

Following the ceremony the bride and groom were pelted with almonds (in mesh bags), three for children and five to seven to promote fertility. In ancient times a loaf of bread was broken over the bride’s head to represent fertility. At the end of the wedding the bride and groom broke a vase or glass into pieces with the number of shards representing how many years they would be married. Mothers-in-law sat at a table and kept a record of the repayment of favors or money which needed to be witnessed (this is still done in some of today’s ceremonies)

Most of the ceremonies started with mass in the early morning, followed by music and dancing throughout the night. Food was, and is, a large part of the wedding. Thirteen or more courses were ordinarily served (a large meal is still served at today’s weddings); this represented the union of the couple and their families.

It’s amazing how many wedding traditions still remain even though they may have evolved somewhat to reflect today’s society. Incorporating traditions based on heritage is often a good way to honor the old while celebrating the new.