I recently enjoyed chatting to a former school friend ofmine from South Africa. Lee Dumisa is a rising star, studying and interning in the mother city, Cape Town, South Africa. Being in the trend capital of South Africa, I asked her to share some wedding inspiration.
Here she offers a beautiful understanding on how to incorporate ease and simplicity into your traditional wedding…
Run us through a day with Lerato (Lee) Dumisa…
Well I’m still very much a student so I typically wake up at 5am to get ready for the day. I am fortunate enough to be interning at an amazing advertising agency so in a typical day I travel between university and work whilst trying to keep my ears on the ground on what’s happening in my chosen industry through all social media platforms.
Where were you born, and how strong did( or do) you feel the ties are to cultural traditions?
I was born in the township of Umlazi in Durban but raised on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in a small beach town called Margate.My family and I never really followed any cultural customs because we are Christians however it never stopped us from attending traditional events that friends and family might have hosted.
I always found that even those who held these events did so more out of a spirit of habitual tradition rather than actual cultural tradition.
In your understanding now, what are the elements that
make up a traditional wedding?
A traditional wedding is the last step after Lobola negotiations have been finalized.
In terms of setting dates the groom invites his in-laws to come to his home so that they will discuss the wedding date (Ukubona izinkomo). The groom pays all the cows to the bride’s family and then they set a date which is suitable for both families. After they agree on a date the bride’s family will go back home with the cows and start the wedding preparation.
Preparations such as the bride’s family buying gifts that she will give to her in-laws after the wedding ceremony such as: blankets, Zulu mats, brooms, clay pots, aprons and furniture. She will also buy a box (kist) where she can put her clothes and her husband’s gifts. In between goats are slaughtered for various reasons such as a ceremony which is called Umncamo and which the brides Dad will host in hopes that the ancestors protect her.
Thereafter, another event is held which is the equivalent of a wedding shower called Ukucimela. On the actual Wedding day the Bride’s mother gives her daughter a blanket that she will use to cover her body when she is leaving and her father will lead her to the “kraal”, and from the “kraal” they will go straight to the groom’s residence and the bride will be advised not to look back.
The bride’s family comes early in the morning so that the bride can “steal the gate”. The bride enters her husband’s home while nobody is paying attention. She enters the kitchen and sits in the women’s side of the house. Then the groom’s family pays for not being aware of the bride’s entry, they should have stopped her before she enters the house. The groom’s family will welcome the bride’s family and show them the room in which they canstay. In the midday the ceremony will start both bride and groom wear their traditional clothes. Of course all of this varies slightly depending on the different family preferences and background.
What advise would you like to offer African brides who are wantingto have both a traditional and white wedding?
Many brides these days split their wedding days into two. So they hold their white wedding first and the second day they hold their traditional wedding. However I have heard of cases where there are budget contrasts so they opt for a traditional wedding only.
Holding two weddings is super costly so my advice would be keep your numbers small in the white wedding, stick to family – close family not the cousin you see every ten years- and close friends so your special day can be as beautiful as you’ve pictured without having to incur extra costs due to extra “unnecessary” guests. As an African person it is imperative to invite everyone to your wedding day, even the lady who used to watch you for two seconds twice a year whilst your mom ran a quick errand, so the beauty of having the traditional wedding is that it is low cost so this is the day you can invite them, in fact invite the whole neighbourhood, because you’ve slaughtered two massive cows (sometimes more) so you can afford to feed those extra mouths that day.