The answer to what to wear to an African wedding is influenced by formality and modesty. We will talk about the dos and don’ts for the guest outfit to avoid accidentally looking disrespectful when you attend an African wedding.
We recommend browsing our blog if you want to know more outfit tips for different weddings. For example, you may want to know what to wear to a Muslim wedding as well.
What Do Guests Wear To An African Wedding?
Before anything else, check the wedding invitation for the dress code indicated by the couple. People vary on how traditional they want their wedding to be, and some might only want a subtle influence of their African roots for their wedding.
In some African weddings, it’s best to assume that you shouldn’t wear casual clothing. Instead, consider outfits that you’ll wear to an evening dinner, including tasteful dresses for women and suits and tie for men.
However, the African wedding you’re attending might be requesting their guests to wear Aso ebi. Ask the couple if they also want their guests to wear this traditional attire, including those not African.
Similar to other weddings, you should be mindful of the modesty of your clothes. When attending an African wedding, refrain from shorts, short skirts, or revealing dresses and blouses.
Male guests should also avoid short and casual clothing to remain respectful. However, you can consider a good pair of trousers with a dress shirt.
Another option is to ask the couple if they allow African print clothing for their wedding guests. Again, this might be an excellent consideration to blend in with the crowd.
Coverups and jewelry
It’s acceptable to wear jewelry to an African wedding. Just remember that less is more, and you must never upstage the bride and groom.
Some accessories to consider are headgear like head ties, doeks, and geles. If your outfit is plain, you can dress it up with a beaded bib or cape.
However, be mindful that the bride and groom wear some accessories. For example, avoid body beads because you don’t want to look like you’re the one getting married.
Can You Wear A Black Dress To An African Wedding?
According to Nairobi Fashion Hub, it’s acceptable to wear black to a Kenyan wedding. Just ensure that it fits the dress code, time, and location of the wedding.
However, some sources also mention that black should be avoided as the color of your clothing, especially in traditional African weddings. Instead, it’s best to select pink, blue, green, brown, and cream colors.
When in doubt, always ask the couple or the people close to them. It would be best to avoid white as it might be the bride’s color, but you shouldn’t also match the color of the wedding party.
How Should I Dress For A South African Wedding?
Like in other weddings, follow the dress code indicated in your wedding invitation to a South African wedding. You can also check the venue and time of the day to decide on the appropriate outfit.
As mentioned by ShowMe Cape Town, you can never go wrong with an elegant black dress or black suit to look formal for a wedding. That being said, white will always be a no-no as you want the bride to stand out.
You can also opt for neutral colors if dark colors are too hot. Again, take inspiration from the color palette, but avoid those that the bridesmaids or groomsmen will wear.
And finally, be lowkey and subtle. Avoid sexy clothing and casual wear because you are a wedding guest and it’s the couple’s day to shine.
What Can I Expect At An African Wedding?
North African weddings
- The bride performs a Hamam, which is a ritual bath symbolizing purification before marriage
- The bride together with those closest to her have their hands decorated with dye in a henna party for good luck
- Muslim African weddings will practice Islamic rituals, including women covering their heads and a Nikah, which is a gender-segregated ceremony
West African weddings
- Tasting of the Elements where the couple eats sweet, sour, bitter, and hot foods to signify that they’re ready to go through the challenges of life
- The couple can share a Kola nut then keep the rest of it in their home as a symbol of commitment to each other
- Close friends and family will wear Aso ebi
East African weddings
- Islamic customs in Muslim African weddings
- Bridal henna party
- Kirumbizi or fight-dancing by the groom and his friends
Central and South African weddings
- Some will have an Umabo and a separate Westernized ceremony
- The Umabo usually happens at the home of the groom’s parents
- The groom’s father will welcome the bride and her father will give her to her new family
And that’s it! We’ve just discussed what to wear to an African wedding, where modesty and formality are essential.
Check the dress code and color palette on the wedding invitation. You can also ask the bride and groom if you want to wear traditional African clothing.
Are you also planning on getting married, but don’t want an event? Read what is a pop up wedding as it might be for you.