I was excited when I received the save the date to my friend Thato’s traditional African wedding. I love learning about different cultures and traditions and am always open to new adventures so I immediately started planning what to wear. I won’t lie, I was a bit skeptical about going to the township… and the bride chuckled when I asked her if it is safe for me to come to Mohlakeng, Randfontein. The myth that townships are ridden with crime was busted. I felt as safe, but took as much precaution as I would in any suburb.
The atmosphere at the wedding was of warmth, friendliness and festivity like a street carnival. The nice thing is the entire community comes out to celebrate with the family. The newly-weds stay on the same street and as the entourage travelled and danced from the groom’s house to the bride’s, no one was in a hurry or upset that the the families have taken over the street, but rather cars hooted and neighbours gave good wishes as they passed.
There were many traditional aspects to the day’s proceedings and much is done between the families. From an outsider, what stood out, is that the bride’s traditional clothing is chosen by her in-laws and each garment has a symbolic meaning – from her petticoat, to the doek and the dress. Thato told me that it is an honour for a bride to wear a blanket and as hot as it was on the day she wore her blanket with pride.
As with Muslim weddings, once the religious ceremonies take place, you are officially viewed as husband and wife. Many will follow with a wedding reception as a formality – I mean… most girls dream about wearing a regal wedding dress.
My Outfit of the Day
I wanted to align with the traditional dress code and drew inspiration from Khosi Nkosi’s twist of modern infused with traditional. This designer has superb outfits in traditional print. For the modern aspect, I opted for a Greek style flowy dress, in orange (I find this to be a rich colour and is often associated with royalty, wealth, vitality and spirituality in the African culture) and matched it with a pink, orange and green African wax print head scarf and shawl.
I bought the traditional fabric from the Style Shop at the Oriental Plaza and they have a stunning selection of prints to choose from. I will definitely be visiting them again. The fabric is starched and needs to be soaked in salt water to soften, allowing more flexibility when working with the fabric. I finished the doek and shawl with a gold binding. If you can’t sew your own, these doeks are sold by Maya Maya Clothing & HSE of Bespoke or you can just contact me 😉