Real weddings

Umbaco: A Xhosa wedding

South Africa has a lot of different cultures. Everyone inherits their unique wedding traditions and quirks and this contributes to what makes everyone’s wedding unique to them. With so many different cultures, wedding traditions from one’s culture play a big role in one’s wedding day. This couple, who had dated for twelve years, Bulelwa Foster and Siyabulela Saki, had a traditional theme, ‘Umbaco’. To suit their taste, their wedding was modernized with black and white being their theme colours.

In the Xhosa cultures, the bride and groom are not allowed to see each other the day before the wedding. The 25th of July was a sunny day graced by the presence of Bulelwa and Siyabulela’s parents and family. Bulelwa could not believe that the day had finally arrived, so much that she woke up at midnight and prayed, and by 6 am she was up and ready for the day.

Because of the COVID 19 lockdown restrictions, there were only 20 guests but normally it is a very big ceremony with relatives and friends on the occasion that usually takes two days.

The new bride must at least cover her upper arm area then cover her head with a doek and wear a long dress to cover her upper arm area then cover her head with a doek, and wear a long dress to cover her ankles as a sign of respect to the groom’s family. Bulelwa was dressed in her beautiful traditional Xhosa attire and she looked elegant in black and white.

“Ten minutes before the wedding were the most nerve-wracking, because of anxiety. We were both anxious because we were about to make a life-changing decision,” says Bulelwa.

Siyabulela was in awe as he watched his bride walked down the aisle. This was his favorite part of the wedding; that, and seeing both their parents chatting gracefully after meeting for the very first time.

The ceremony took three hours and the couple was honored to have had a wonderful celebration with their families. It was intimate and beautiful and Bulelwa was glad they were finally tying the knot. There were so many magical moments, having their families singing and dancing with so much joy in their eyes.

The couple was happy when their star photographer, Simphiwe Nama arrived. They knew their pictures were going to come out beautifully because of his remarkable work. A beautiful modernized Xhosa traditional wedding it was!

As for tips to couples in the process of wedding planning, Bulelwa ha this to say, “Enjoy the stressful process. Remember it’s only one day and a marriage is every day for the rest of your life. Focus on the good things that are happening and don’t forget why you’re getting married. Share moments of joy. And even in the hard times, find reasons to laugh.

Having a modern wedding is optional and for those who have modern weddings, they take place before the traditional wedding.

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