In Delft, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple, Nelson and Elisabeth, from Ghana, Africa. We talked about several things, but wedding planner that I am, we also talked about marriage customs. They were curious to know about traditions in America and were happy to share with me what they have experienced in Ghana. So I thought I would pass on to you this first-hand perspective of engagement and wedding customs.
In Ghana, a man who wants to propose to a woman approaches her family. If the family accepts him as a suiter, they present him a list of things he must bring in a formal marriage proposal including:
-Six pieces of cloth for the wedding dress
-Underclothes for the bride
-A suit for the bride
-Shoes for the bride
He also sets aside money as gifts for the mother, father, and brother of the bride.
When the man has gathered everything the family requires he comes to formally ask permission to marry the girl. The girl dresses up to greet her suitor. The family bids him welcome, then they open the bag of gifts to make sure it’s in order. If it is, they ask the girl in front of everyone, “this man wants to marry you. Do you like it?” If she consents they pray together and the engagement ring is given. The engagement is established in the early morning sometime between 5:00-8:00 and the wedding often takes place in the afternoon. The wedding can also take place some time in the future. If the wedding takes place on the same day, invitations are sent out beforehand about the engagement and wedding. In this case, the engagement is more a traditional formality.
One unique activity about weddings in Ghana is the car procession on the way to the church. Guests and the wedding party travel en masse and honk their horns in celebration to let people know there is a wedding. The bride’s car is in the middle of the parade and her car is decorated with the color of dress she may wear next day. The church is also decorated beautifully.
The bride usually wears a white wedding dress to the ceremony. It is concluded by the pastor blessing the couple. There may be refreshments in a simple reception afterwards.
It was very fascinating to listen to this sweet couple with their deep accents as they talked about marriage and customs, inserting just the littlest hints of their own story in the mix. We had a meaningful conversation together around the breakfast table. I think that has been one of the best parts of this trip-those moments we are able to sit down with people from all over the world and get to know each other, talking about things that really matter in life.