South African Wedding Traditions

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Everyone inherits their own unique wedding traditions and quirks and it’s a great part of what makes your wedding unique to you. You will also find wedding traditions from your culture can play a big part in your wedding day. Take a browse of some of our favourite wedding traditions and see which ones will suit your big day perfectly.

Wedding Traditions

The 12 Symbols of Life

If you want to embrace some African traditions at your wedding then include the 12 symbols of life within your wedding ceremony. These symbols remind the couple getting married of what they should expect from their marriage and what they need to overcome any problems and disagreements.

These symbols are:

  • Wheat — Representing fertility and the promise of life and land for the couple
  • Wine — Wine is to symbolise the mixing of the blood of the two families that are coming together
  • Pepper — The pepper represents the heated times that the family will have
  • Salt — Salt is to remind the couple of healing and to preserve their marriage
  • Water — Water shows there is purity and a dissolution of bad feeling and any bitterness
  • Bitter Herbs — Bitter herbs are there to represent the growing pains of married life
  • Pot and Spoon — The pot and spoon symbolise healthy food to build a strong family
  • Shield — The shield is there to represent the pride and honour of the home
  • Spear — The spear shows protection from the marriage and the sanctity of the home
  • Honey — Honey reminds the couple of the sweet love that they share together
  • Broom — The broom symbolises a clean and healthy home life
  • A Holy Book — Symbolising God’s truth and power


Tying the Knot

The phrase “tying the knot” dates back to when old African tribes would bind a couples’ hands together during their wedding ceremony to symbolise them tying their lives together.

The Wedding Cake

The tiered wedding cake is there to represent fertility and children, so if you plan on having a big family after your wedding day, embrace the tradition of a wedding cake for some extra good fortune. Old style tradition would state the cake should be crumbled over the couples’ heads but in modern times — thankfully — the couple instead feed each other!

Wedding Traditions

Carried Over the Threshold

It was said that evil spirits could be waiting in the newlyweds’ home, to keep his bride safe it became tradition for the groom to carry the bride over the threshold of their home after saying their vows.

Lighting the Fire

Old tradition states that it’s good luck if the bride’s family and the groom’s family bring fire from their own homes to light a new fire at the newlyweds’ house to symbolise the two families joining together.

Wedding Traditions

Looking for more wedding traditions? Our Traditions and Symbols pages have even more ideas on how to keep your wedding traditional.


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