How to make a fashion statement on a Contemporary African Wedding

How to make a fashion statement on a Contemporary African Wedding

The concept of marriage remains a huge part of the contemporary African’s life, but celebrating marriage in the confines of a white wedding is slowly being overtaken by Afro-themed weddings. Africa’s youth is very progressive and is leaning towards infusing African roots, painting their weddings whichever colour or print they deem more personal. Contemporary African weddings are therefore becoming more fashionable than ever by embracing their roots. And because African fashion carries so much vibrancy and color, there are just so many ways one can make a fashion statement on a contemporary African wedding. Here are some tips on how to celebrate your individuality and turn heads on the big day. 

The Afrocentric Wedding Gown 


Wedding Gowns by Avionsige 

For years, the white gown has been the wedding signature for brides all over the world. In Africa however, the contemporary bride is expanding her options, and opting for wedding gowns with a hint of African prints. Other bold brides go an extra mile, completely substituting the white dress with a full-blown African print wedding gown. With a full spectrum of materials and colours to choose from, African designers are producing never seen before designs that hold a contemporary feel to cater for elegance, class, and culture in one go. As the contemporary brides embrace their African roots, there is so much inspiration to borrow from. From the Shwe shwe dress of Botswana, the Ethiopian Kemis, the Xhosa Umbacho and the Ghanaian Kente, there are several African prints to experiment with as you come up with you beautiful African inspired wedding gown. 

The Statement Head Gear


Isicholo Hats by African Fabrics and Designs Kenya 

Every bride deserves to have her head adorned with a beautiful crown, its only befitting for the special day. Conventionally, the wedding crown has always been silver or gold, but in Africa more cultural versions of it are being embraced.  The head wrap for instance has become a favorite among contemporary brides, who have managed to give it a more stylish appeal. Originating from Sub-Saharan Africa, the accessory was once a badge of enslavement, which then transitioned into an iconic fashion statement representing wealth, marital status and age, depending on how it is styled.  In Nigeria, the head wrap is known as the ‘gele’ and a wedding is one of the key events on which it is worn. What is most exciting about it, is the fact that it is unique, versatile and provides the flexibility for the bride to style is as they wish. One can choose to go for a solid color, or print, wrap the entire head or tie it in a way that lets her flaunt her beautiful hairstyle.  Another popular African crown is Zulu bridal hat, otherwise known as ‘isicholo’. The isicholo is an intricately designed, pill-box shaped hat for married women, which is made from non-plant fiber that is coiled and stitched. It is also embellished with colorful beadwork to further decorate it. The hat is usually made in bold colours such as blue, red, yellow and orange, which can never go unnoticed, a feature which compliments the bride’s goal to be the center of attention on her special day. Not only is it a breathtaking fashion piece, but it carries much cultural significance, as it symbolizes one’s marital status, and maturity. What’s even more exciting about it, is the fact that you can still wear it post –wedding as an accessory to your apparel as a married woman! 

The Beaded Neck Piece

Beaded Necklace by Asphia Sakyi

Accessories make powerful statements when it comes to one’s personal style, which is why unique neck pieces are a spectacular way of making a fashion statement on the contemporary African wedding. Because our African fashion industry oozes with creativity, there are just so many options when it comes to neckpieces to accessorize your outfit with, if you are looking to be a show stopper. From the East African Maasai necklaces, the Zulu beaded neck bibs, and the Ankara inspired capes, we are always spoilt for choice in that area. If you are one who lives on the subtle or dark colors side of the palette, the colorful or beaded neck pieces allow you to look elegant, with a pop of color, without being too much.

Matching African Outfits

Matching wedding outfits from Asoebi Bella 

This is a fashion statement which you can make as a couple, friends, or as a family. In Nigeria the matching family outfits are called ‘aso ebi’, and in Zimbabwe they have been popularized as the ‘java’. The matching African attires have previously been more common for the dowry payment ceremony, but they have recently gained popularity on contemporary African weddings. Amongst the guests, the wedding couples’ families or bridesmaids, it is no longer uncommon to see gorgeous designs in Kente or Ankara material, which is in line with the colour scheme or theme of the wedding. African designers are doing a remarkable job with garments made from African print materials, proving that honoring one’s tradition and being trendy do not have to be mutually exclusive. Wedding guests are proudly making quite the impression on the special day, dressed to kill, rocking on trend, and matching African attires. Not only is this a showcase of one’s personal style, but it is a fashionable way of showing solidarity with the couple that is getting married. 


Cover picture: Andrew Itaga (Unsplash)

All comments

  1. Tex Hooper

    I agree that a lot of African pieces make powerful statements. I need some new jewelry for my wife. I'll have to order some online.

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How to make a fashion statement on a Contemporary African Wedding

Nov 29, 2021
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