OXFAM’s Weddings around the world

In the second part of our look at Weddings around the world, Oxfam share the story of a couple from the coast of South Africa…

The excitement of a wedding feels the same whether you’re splashing the cash in the UK or putting on a big event in a small village in rural South Africa.

Thembe from KwaZulu Natal allowed Oxfam access to her joyful wedding. Very different to a UK wedding, a Zulu wedding begins with the bride and members of her family being collected by members of the groom’s family, before walking together in a slow, singing procession to the groom’s village and home.

During the procession, the bride’s friends will pin gifts of money to her head-dress. Thembe held an umbrella during the procession, to identify herself.


Upon arrival, the bride is invited inside the groom’s home, where she and her family will then sing and dance, telling stories and sometimes wielding traditional sticks or shields. Thembe’s brother, who wore a blue suit for the wedding, performed before giving Thembe away.

Traditionally it is any male relative of the bride- whether father, brother or cousin- who gives her away. They will explain their family history; why the bride’s family is there, where they came from, and who their ancestors are.

After the ceremony, a large meal is cooked in enormous pots. Thembe’s wedding party ate beef, including entrails, cooked in a separate pot. And as with any wedding, the singing and dancing continued into the night. There are some things that are universal, that even poverty can’t quash.

An Oxfam Unwrapped gift list http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/wedding-and-gift-lists is one way you can support Oxfam’s work. Your guests can choose gifts like ‘Goat’, ‘School Supplies’ or ‘Shelter in a Crisis’, whilst leaving you a personal message. Moving and hopefully fun for your guests, your gift list will help those living in poverty and change lives for generations.

Logo_Oxfam Unwrapped_green

Photos: Paul Weinberg for Oxfam