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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
What are some Jamaican wedding traditions? Every culture has its own traditions when it comes to weddings and Jamaica, being as colourful as it is, is no different. Of course, we have the regular traditions; not seeing the bride before the wedding, the bride wearing white etc.
But, let’s explore a few of these traditions. Maybe you can include some in your big day too.
In the olden days, the wedding ceremony was held at a church and the reception at the groom’s family home. Now though, there are many different wedding ceremony and reception locations being chosen. But, Jamaica being mainly a Christian country, the wedding is still done in a Christian format.
In the past, the wedding was paid for by the family of the bride (which I think is normal in most cultures), but now the bride and groom stand for the costs of the wedding for the most part, but parents on both sides still chip in sometimes.
The marriage certificate is signed on the day of the wedding. After the “I do’s” the marriage certificate is signed by the officiant, bride, groom and witnesses (usually the maid-of-honour and best man).
You might be thinking of all the “wedding” flavours there are but I promise you won’t guess this one. Jamaicans for wedding cakes draw for an old favourite, Traditional Rum Cake. The making of this cake starts long before the day of the wedding, in fact, the fruits (an ingredient in the cake) are soaked for the entire length of the engagement.
At the wedding, the cake is cut and the top layer is given to the officiant, the second layer is for the bride and groom (for their first anniversary) and all other layers are shared with the guests. It is also customary for a slice to be sent to those who were invited but couldn’t make it.
This is no longer practised, or not as much, but in times past, the cakes were made and brought to the wedding reception by married women of both families. These women would wear white to the wedding and wouldn’t speak to each other until they get to the venue.
Instead of having the cake out in the open for the entire wedding, it is covered with a veil and then removed by these women. Now, this is still done but the veil is removed by the mothers of the bride and groom.
The menu can be whatever you’d like however, almost every Jamaican wedding has a curried goat and Manish water (goat soup) on the menu. It is customary for the goat to be chosen by the bride and groom and for it to be killed by a member of either family.
The reception as you probably guessed has an open bar. Local and international favourites are served all night. And Jamaican weddings can last all night.
Most weddings will play love ballads and R&B for the first half of the reception, including the first dance. Then it will gradually work its way down to Reggae and Dancehall music for the ultimate post-nuptial party. Some bridal parties may have choreographed entrances with popular songs.
Tun T’anks Sunday is the celebration after the wedding. Because weddings are usually on Saturdays, it is tradition for the entire bridal party to attend church on the Sunday following the ceremony. After the service, they head back home for the “second reception”. On day two, food, cake and rum flow even more than before. This reception is often open to the community and those loved ones who couldn’t make the wedding. This is another event that can last all night.
So we have covered the traditions, but what about superstitions? What is considered bad luck on your wedding day?
That's it! How many of these did you already know?
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