My Kikuyu (Kenyan) Wedding

by Christine M
(Wilmington NC, USA)

Behind the Lesos

Behind the Lesos

When I got married a few years ago, I had a traditional Kenyan wedding in the Kikuyu tradition. For me and my husband, the process began long before the actual day of the wedding. We always knew that we wanted to have a traditional wedding to pay homage to our culture and celebrate it with our friends. We had been dating for a while and both of our families knew each other. When we decided that we were going to get married and told our parents, the process began.

In our culture, the whole family, that is the extended family is involved. This is because we believe that it is important to know who you are letting into the family and have a successful relationship with them. First, my father and his elder brothers and their wives visited my husband-to-be’s parents and uncles and aunts on a set date. We brought gifts and were accepted in. After socializing and getting to know everyone, our fathers and then our uncles made sure that we were engaged to each other of our own free will out of love, in front of everyone. We accepted and visited with each other the rest of the day.

Our family elders continued to plan. The next visit we made to his family was to finalize the bride price agreed on and do a goat roasting in our honor. Also, to get blessings, his family then visited ours with the first installment of the bride price (used to be paid by the groom to the brides parents to ensure that he was capable of taking care of her and their future family). He then had to identify a fully-covered me as his bride and accept me as his wife. After the finalization of everything, it was time to have the celebration. All of our extended families were invited along with friends and family.

My friends and I were living in my parents house for about a week before the actual wedding day. When the day finally came, we woke up early to start painting our faces and wearing our lesos or kangas in beautiful elaborate designs. At around ten, the women came to the gate, singing all the traditional wedding songs and dancing and asking to escort the bride to her day. My groom was already at his home where the wedding would be.

All had been set up, the tents, the tables and chairs and the good African food had started to be prepared by the women the night before. We had the whole singing and dancing ceremony before getting in the cars to go to his home. The cars were decorated using vines and flowers and traveled in a motorcade so everywhere we passed, people knew we were going for a wedding. When we arrived, the women were there again to sing as they guided me to the home and the young flower girls came ahead of me laying a bed of flowers. We went to the front where the ceremony was performed by an elder first to bless our union and then a priest.

After we were married, we left and gave time for the guests to eat. We went to take photos and came back. We ate as friends and others performed traditional wedding dances and blessed our union. Then the gifts were presented, starting with my parents giving us a full bedroom set and bed (to bless our union for a healthy family… This is also one of the reasons there is a long process. Because the girl will produce the children that will carry on the family name so her relatives and parents can’t let her marry just anyone). We got kitchen equipment, vikapu, karais, shukas and many other traditional gifts needed to start a new home.

Then it was time to cut the cake and my aunt led this. She reminded us that the cake is for all of the sweet times ahead and the layers represent how a relationship grows, and sharing it together represents a binding in families. After this, we had traditional dances all through the afternoon and into the night. Everyone then left and we went to our new home. We would travel to our honeymoon a week after.

All in all, it was the happiest day of our lives and we are glad that we followed tradition. we were also able to introduce a lot of our friends to our culture in a very personal way that they would always remember.

Hopefully, we inspired other couples to want to honor their culture on the most important day of their lives.

Comments for
My Kikuyu (Kenyan) Wedding

by: Belinda Brady

I am seeking information for ideas for my own wedding. And I find this very interesting, but beautiful! I hope and pray my special day will be just as beautiful with whatever type of wedding we decide to do. I wish the bride and groom of this marriage event many blessed fruitful years together.

Good information
by: Molly

Thank you for this information. I sponsored a child in Kenya years ago and he is getting married. This helped me to better understand the process that he is and has been going through for the wedding. This is has been very enlightening. I am working on a blog about him which will be posted soon at the website below.

by: Anonymous

Good to learn that coz I was brought up in a dysfunctional family. Having said that I believe my father should be a part of this coz my mom and sis did not include him (when my sis was getting married). My mom dictated everything as she always and has always done, which is biased. Children should never be put in the midst. I hope my sis can ask fro forgiveness from dad coz I always believe that is not Kikuyu tradition and they did wrong. Both parents must be included unless one is deceased.

Kenyan (Kikuyu) wedding
by: Eugenia

Thanks, I truly enjoyed tradition. Many descendents of Africa living outside of Africa don’t know why they do what they do. Great knowledge.

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