A Peek in the Ghana Traditional Wedding Ceremony!
For many couples in Ghana, the moment at while the bride accepts the groom’s proposal is just the beginning of the wedding process. Once the elders hear that a couple intends to wed, they advise on the wedding rites that must be followed. Below is a brief look at the Ghana traditional wedding ceremony procedures.
- The ‘Knocking’
- This practice is derived from the tradition of a visitor knocking at the entrance of a house and waiting to be welcomed before entering. The knocking takes place a week or two before the actual wedding ceremony. The groom and his family, bearing gifts that include money, two bottles of Schnapps and Cola knock at the door/gate of the bride’s home. The gifts are presented to whoever opens the door, and if they are accepted, the groom and his team are allowed to enter.
- Once inside, the spokesperson for the groom explains the purpose of their visit – to uproot a beautiful flower from her home, with her parent’s consent. The spokesperson then asks what is required for them to acquire this flower. At this point, the bride’s family asks the groom’s family to return at a later date. During this waiting period, the bride’s family investigates the groom’s family background thoroughly. After they are satisfied that he is a suitable husband for her daughter, they send a list of requirements to the spokesperson who will pass them on the groom’s family. These items must be provided before the groom can marry the bride.
- The Wedding Ceremony
- On the set date, the groom, his family, and guests show up early at the bride’s home. They knock at the door by saying ‘agoo’, and the bride’s family responds with ‘amee’. Each family then sits on different sides, facing each other. The ceremony then begins with a brief prayer.
- Each family chooses a family linguist (called Abusua Kyeamee) to serve as their spokesperson. The linguist of the bride’s family asks what mission the groom’s family has, to which the groom’s family linguist replies. After this, the family members are introduced by the linguist from their side, with the groom’s family going first, as they are the visitors.
Presentation of items
- The next item on the agenda of the Ghana traditional wedding ceremony is the presentation of items on the list given by the bride’s family. The items on the list include:
a)Dowry/bride price – an undisclosed amount of money, and two bottles of whisky and gin
b) Gifts for the bride’s father – money, a bottle of expensive whisky and a piece of kente fabric
c) Gifts for the bride’s mother- a piece of kente cloth or a pair of sandals, and money
d) Jewelry, shoes, headpieces and other gifts for the bride
e) Six pieces of traditional wax print cloth for the bride
f) Engagement ring
g) Engagement Bible
h) Money for the brothers or male cousins of the bride
i) Food, drinks, and money for the guests who will attend the ceremony
- Note that the groom does not speak at all at this point. Also, if the groom’s family is not able to provide everything on the list, there is room for negotiation with the bride’s family.
Introduction of the bride and groom
- After the bride’s family is satisfied with the requirements, the groom is introduced to the bride’s family. After he is introduced, a member of the bride’s family is instructed to bring the bride out of the house. Some humor is added to the occasion at this point as a ‘decoy’ is sent out instead of the bride. There is applause and cheering after the groom finally identifies his bride
The bride accepts the marriage offer
- Once the groom identifies his bride, she is asked by her father if she wants to marry the young man. She is also asked if the gifts that the groom’s family has brought are acceptable. Her joyful acceptance is greeted with jubilation and cheers from the crowd. At this point, the groom puts the engagement ring on her finger, then hugs and kisses her. A pastor or elder then presents the Engagement Bible to the bride as a symbol of how God’s importance in married life.
- The bride and groom are now a married couple and can sit together for the rest of the ceremony, after which blessings are proclaimed, and prayers are said. The couple receives congratulatory messages and advice from the elders and other guests. Lastly, everyone in attendance is treated to a feast accompanied by freely flowing drinks.
The Ghana traditional wedding ceremony is quite an experience, even for the guests, due to its rich cultural significance. If you are thinking of getting married soon, make sure you plan your wedding well, so that you enjoy the ceremony thoroughly!