Story of a Wedding: South African boy meets East African girl


Over the next few days, I shall be reviewing different aspects of the wedding. Please stick around and let me know your thoughts.

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So you know how you meet a boy at school, think his difference is fascinating, get to know him a bit and then you say yes when he asks you to marry him and the difference in culture suddenly becomes stark? No? Well, this is what I learnt from planning the wedding about the difference between a wedding in the East (of Africa) and those in the South.

  1. Something as simple as how does the bridal party make their entrance into the reception. In EA, the guests come and join in a single dance with the bridal party and they all dance in together. In SA, the bridal party has to perform a routine that they rehearse and all the guests look forward to. In hindsight, it wasn’t too bad but as I don’t really like to dance, it was a bit of a bummer in the period leading up to it.
  2. Dowry. Obviously both communities pay dowry and I am actually not opposed to it’s payment in case someone wants to comment about how backward/ sexist or whatever else. In Teso, the girls family will usually pick 100% of the dowry from the boys home and that’s the traditional ceremony. Only men are involved and particularly from the paternal side. In SA, the malumes (maternal uncles) can and often get involved, there are quite a few stages to it, gifts are given to the girls and boys family and part of the dowry is paid. This was a very contentious issue and I shall not say anything further about how it was resolved.
  3. Parental involvement. I thought this was more of a family than a South African thing. My parents weren’t super involved in the planning, they just asked about the highlights and the mega details, his parents and family were VERY involved. In EA, we plan weddings with peers who give time, money and their effort to make it a success, I can’t speak of what they do in SA as I never found out.
  4. I found out at the traditional wedding that in Tswana culture, the bride and groom have to spend some time at the boys home following the wedding. I have never heard of this practice back home ! It’s nice to know we can stay over but in reality, we will probably drive home in future rather than stay over at the in-laws just because home is not that far away off.
  5. I always knew that the groom kinda saunters down the aisle with his groomsmen, not so here where the mom/ a sister or special cousin gets to walk him down the aisle.

I am sure there were so many more lessons and I might update this list at a later stage/ as they occur.

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