Traditional wedding dresses by country in Africa

Traditional wedding dresses by country in Africa

The wedding is the most important day in the life of every woman. Of course, every lady would like to look beautiful on her wedding day, and that is why choosing the right gown is such a tough process. Here, we have compiled the list of the most gorgeous traditional wedding dresses by country in Africa. Get inspired by those for your own special gown on your significant day!

Traditional wedding dresses by country in Africa

Traditional wedding attire for bride

Every country has traditions, which include the African traditional outfits for couples who are going to get married. All the traditional gowns have a lot of history behind them, as well as plenty of charm.

Each one of these traditional marriage wears is uniquely designed and has some special features. So, in case you never knew how African traditional wear for every country looks, we have gathered some information about it for your needs.

See the most unique and original traditional wedding dresses from many different African countries and nations, influenced by their cultures. Who knows, maybe you would want to base your traditional wedding attire on some of the outfits!

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1. Swaziland

In Swaziland, the traditional dress is called Emahiya. This dress is a big piece of clothing, which is wrapped around the body of the bride or groom in a toga-style. Emahiya can be worn by both men and women. The color palette that this dress comes in is white, black and red.

Every color has the significant meaning of its own. White is transition and purity, black is marriage and wealth, and red is fertility. A lot of traditional gowns, though, come in the coloring of Swaziland’s flag. Usually, the fabric that the dress is made of can feature lions, crowns, Nguni shield, or in some cases the king’s pictures.

The demonstrated design of the dress is not exactly following the traditions in which Emahiya is created. Instead, it takes a few elements from Emahiya and twists them, making them into a garment which is heavily inspired by the traditional attire. Overall, this gown is very captivating, and everyone will notice your bold nature if you decide to come out wearing it at your own wedding.

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Emahiya dress Swaziland


2. Ghana

The Ghanaian traditional gowns are also legendary, and to this day people all around Africa are inspired by them for their own dresses. Usually, the Ghanaian bridal dresses are crafted out of the vibrant clothing, which is called Kente.

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Kente is one of the most popular fabrics in the western part of Africa. However, it has an even more special ceremonial meaning in Ghana. The kente cloth is handmade, and each one of the designs has a story behind it.

One of the most common ways to make a wedding dress using kente fabric is creating a tight fitting dress, which has a peplum under the bride’s bust line and the long skirt that reaches the floor. Nonetheless, some of the brides prefer incorporating the elements of kente fabric in the snow-white gown. It mostly depends on the bride’s personal preferences.

Ghana wedding attires


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3. Ethiopia and Eritrea

Habesha kemis, the translation of which is “Ethiopian dress”, is the most popular gown in Ethiopia itself, as well as in Eritrea. It depicts the culture of Habesha people, who are prevalent in these countries.

This dress is made of cotton fabric, and it comes in the lighter shades, like white, beige and grey. The most appealing part of the habesha kemis dress is the embroidery, which is creatively done along the neck line, in the middle and bottom of the dress, and along the sleeves.

Every design is very unique, but all of these features are common. There is also a big embroidered cross, which is crafted on the bottom of every dress. This is an essential element of every habesha kemis dress.

The majority of habesha kemis gowns are either ankle-long or floor-long. Sometimes, however, you can encounter the shorter options. Sometimes, the brides also like using netela along with their look, which is a shawl that has matching embroidered designs along its edges. If you want to get more acquainted with Ethiopian culture, Habesha kemis will tell you a lot about it.

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Ethiopia wedding attire


4. Rwanda

The traditional wedding attire in Rwanda has a name mushanana. It is usually worn on top of the bustier or a simple tank top. The elements of this dress are a sash and a wrapped skirt. You can make a mushanana out of the fabric of any color. Still, the majority of women prefer the fabrics which are more transparent and light, because that creates a perfect illusion of the liquid that is flowing.

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To add their own charm to the outfits, both the bride and her bridesmaids wear a lot of jewelry, which includes the traditional Rwandan headpieces and other attractive accessories.

Rwanda bride and bridesmaids


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5. Uganda

The dress which is considered a popular wedding choice in Uganda is named Gomesi. The Gomesi dress has a square-shaped neckline, the puffed up sleeves, and you have to tie it with the sash below your waistline.

Sometimes, the rich brides get the expensive dresses, which are made out of the silky material. For their creation, the designers might require more than five meters of clothing.

Usually, the Gomesi dress is worn for the special occasions, like a wedding. However, some of the Ugandan regions have made it socially acceptable to wear a dress like this on a daily basis. It is quite difficult to imagine that this kind of dress can be worn regularly during the everyday activities. But if the women of Uganda can do it, then this mission is officially proven to be possible!

Uganda wedding attire


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6. Morocco

It is impressive how beautiful the Moroccan traditional wedding dress be, with its crafty designs and gorgeous colors. Of course, the concept of the gown is pretty simple – the long kaftan worn together with a matching shawl or jacket. But there is a reason why we can distinguish the Moroccan style from everything else, and this is the uniqueness of its designs and the amount of work which is put into it by the most skilled designers.

The Moroccan traditional wear is decorated with the silver or golden threads, which creates the shiny effect and make the dress look luxurious. Besides, the Moroccan dresses are really comfortable to wear, so the bride does not have to suffer through the entire day wearing the dress which they are not entirely comfortable in.

Moroccan traditional wedding dress


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7. Egypt

The classic Egyptian dresses usually come in two distinctive styles, one of which is golden and the other one is white. They are quite different, and the potential brides usually choose one or the other, depending on their personal tastes. The first dress is entirely golden from top to bottom. The fabric, headdress, and jewelry are all golden, and they can make you feel like the member of the royal family.

Still, some people would probably think that this option is too bright. For those, there is a second Egyptian style, which is focused on a white color scheme. The designs of this dress are very intricate, even if it is pretty simplistic. Anyway, this gown is a perfect choice for your wedding, because you will still look like a queen, and all the eyes will be on you.

Egyptian wedding dress


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8. Zulu (South Africa)

The Zulu wedding clothing is a really difficult and laborious work, but it is also incredibly beautiful and pays a lot of respect to their national culture. It shows the woman as a strong and respectable individual.

The Zulu tribe has a lot of traditions, including the types of clothes that any single, engaged or married woman should wear, but today we will talk about the wedding clothing that is common in this tribe.

The Zulu bride attire consists of the following elements: isidwaba, which is a leather skirt, isicwaya – the animal skin fully covering the woman’s chest, and the isicholo, also called inkehli, which is a traditional Zulu hat that is meant to show everyone that this woman is taken.

A lot of women who are about to get married choose to add the imvakazi, which is a veil made of beads. This wonderful element completes their overall look and makes them the focus of everyone’s attention at the wedding ceremony.

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Zulu traditional attire


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9. Xhosa (South Africa)

Here is one more impressive dress style that originates from South Africa. This is the traditional wear which is worn by the Xhosa people. Their region is approximately close to the Zulu, but the two wedding dress styles are incredibly different and do not include any elements of each other’s culture ideas.

Xhosa wedding

Photo: alisonloves

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10. Yoruba (Nigeria)

Of course, we had to include our native Nigerian dresses, and not just because of bias towards our country but because there is really no traditional attire like this in any country of Africa. The Yoruba traditional dresses always impress everyone with its uniqueness, intricacy, style, and beauty.

The usual elements that the dress consists of are the blouse (called buba), the floor-length wrap skirt (iro), sash (ipele), and, obviously, the important element – head tie (gele). The Yoruba wedding clothes are created out of the hand-woven clothing which is called aso-oke.

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Yoruba traditional wedding dress


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11. Igbo (Nigeria)

The Igbo weddings are also well-known for its bright colors and unusual ceremony scenarios. The bride and groom’s outfits are mostly made out of the same fabrics. The bride can choose the luxurious dress of whatever color she wants. It is not always a dress – sometimes it is a skirt with a blouse.

The blouse is often decorated with the complex accessories, such as a cute brooch, embroidery, or the frills. The headgear is also extremely essential for the wedding ceremony, and the style of it fully depends on the bride’s wishes and preferences – it can be a matching head tie or a beaded coral cap.

The Igbo wedding attire is usually decorated with coral accessories, which is what distinguishes it from the other traditional gowns. The coral beads are in perfect sync with the bride’s colorful dress, and they look really rich. Some of the other popular accessories are silver, ivory and gold necklaces and bracelets, as well as the lovely brooches.

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There are so many different ways to make the Igbo traditional gown standards into your own personal wedding look, and they are all wonderful.

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Igbo wedding


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These were some examples of the most gorgeous traditional African wedding dresses! Every country and nation has its own traditions, and we are really excited to see how all these customs shaped the cultural differences between different African nationalities.

If you are having a wedding soon, or someone from your family or friend circle is going to get married, you can definitely get inspired by these gorgeous designs to create the most memorable wedding theme and dress ever! We wish you the best of luck!

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