South African

We all know the standard wedding traditions: Wearing white, not seeing the bride before the ceremony, wearing a veil until you’re in front of the altar … But where do these traditions come from and why do we still follow them?

The traditions mentioned in Part 1 of this blog are mostly the legacy of international cultures. Here are some local wedding traditions we uphold during wedding ceremonies.


The groom makes a (nowadays) symbolic payment to the parents of the bride to pay for her hand in marriage. Traditionally paid in the form of cattle, the tradition nowadays allows for a cash payment.

Important symbolic elements

These are 12 symbols that need to be present during a South African wedding ceremony: salt, pepper, wheat, wine, bitter herbs, a Holy Book, a broom, honey, a spoon, a spear, a shield and a pot. These traditionally represent what the couple should expect and be willing to endure during the marriage.

Libation and prayer

Before the ceremony is started (bearing in mind that the entire wedding ceremony can stretch over days), prayers are recited and an offering of water or alcohol is poured onto the ground.

Literally tying the knot

The wrists of the bride and groom are tied together with grass or fabric, symbolising unity.

Lighting candles

Following the declaration of their vows, the newlyweds together light a candle as a symbol of their new life together.

Getaway car

In addition to the decoration bestowed upon the wedding car by the groomsmen (and whoever else feels like joining the fun and mayhem), traditionally the father of the bride ties a shoe to the back of the car to symbolise the passing of the responsibility of his daughter to her new husband.

Light my fire

Fire seems to be an ever-present theme. To symbolise the unity of the bride and groom as well as that of the two families, and also to serve as a blessing and good omen to their new life together, the parents of both bride and groom light fires in their respective homes and then take some of that fire to light the fire in the wedding couple’s new home.

While we don’t necessarily put a lot of stock into the origin of these wedding traditions today or follow them, they endure. Why? Good question. But they do make weddings more fun and add that touch of gravitas to the Big Day!

UP A TONE can cater to your every need when it comes to your wedding day – whether you are traditional or not. Contact us today for more information!