As with many African countries, the Angolan culture constitutes a number of different tribes. Naturally, Angolan weddings and traditional marriage practices will and do vary from tribe to tribe and culture to culture.
Both monogamous as well as polygamous marriages are seen in the cultures of Angolans but the traditional wedding is pretty much the same regardless.
You can most definitely integrate some of the Angolan culture into your own wedding. Well... maybe not the whole polygamy part... but more so the other cultural elements.
Among the Eumbo (or Ambo) people, the "wedding consultant" walks the couple through the steps of their traditional Angolan marriage ceremony. In your case, I guess, I will serve as your own personal wedding consultant!
As a show of his willingness to marry their daughter and desire to be accepted into her family, the groom-to-be will spend time working in the bride's father's fields and farms. He will also perform various household chores for her mother.
Groom-to-be doing some farming chores...
How You Can Integrate This Into Your Own Courtship
In today's culture, perhaps you can have your groom-to-be do any of the following:
- Take your parents' car for servicing such as an oil change, tire rotation, and such, wash and clean out said car, etc.
- Help out with some projects around the house e.g. clean out the garage, help with re-painting, do some yard work, etc.
It is also customary in Angolan weddings for his family to give gifts to the girl's family. Nowadays however, if the groom-to-be has a regular day job, he will give clothing and gifts to the girl and her family in lieu of working in the farms, fields and around the house. Your guy can take a trip down to his local mall and get this particular task done very effectively and efficiently. You of course can help out by dropping hints about what your favorite stores are so that you can be sure to get items you'll like and use.
Polygamy among the Eumbo is considered to be superior to monogamy and the husband must "visit" all his wives equally. Once he is ready to marry a girl, the man will select an older woman in his family - usually either his paternal grandmother or his father's sister - to train his wife-to-be on how to be a good wife.
On the actual day of the wedding, the wedding consultant will carry the bride on her back to the groom's house ...of course if she can't physically carry the girl then she will simply walk with her to the groom's dwelling place. Yes, from organizing the engagement to carrying the bride to the wedding chamber, the wedding consultant plays a major and crucial in Angolan culture during the wedding ceremony and after. She even checks up on the couple the morning after their first night of marriage to ensure that all went well.
How You Can Do This At Your Own Wedding
- Ask an aunt of yours to be your escort/stand-in wedding consultant. Her duty will be to guide you to where your groom is awaiting your arrival.
- You will have to ensure that your groom is in a separate area from where you are so that your "journey" to him can be ceremonial. Perhaps have him wait in a different part of the house.
Off to join the groom!
It is the groom's duty to prepare the matrimonial bed. Leaves from the negwelulu tree are spread on the bed as these are believed to intensify sexual excitement.
How You Can Do This Piece of Angolan Culture At Your Own Wedding
- This part of the ceremony will usually take place during the reception. For convenience of the re-enactment you can use an air mattress - I suggest this because they are easy to transport, assemble and dis-assemble. Then you can always use it for future house guests!
- Place the mattress on the floor in your reception venue and have your groom cover it with broad leaves. In the U.S. it will probably be easiest to get your hands on some banana leaves... about 5-7 should be enough to cover the mattress.
- Tempting though it may be after a long day of festivities, I don't advise that you actually call it a night right there and then... It will however be a nice way to share some Angolan culture with your wedding guests.
After the wedding, the groom and his new mother-in-law are not allowed to meet again until after the couple's first child is born.
If you laugh at your mother-in-law, you'll get dirt in your eye.
- Kenyan proverb