GABON: J-Rio – ALOUK / Traditional weddings

Not just a heartwarming and upbeat jam by singer J-Rio, but also a cool intro to wedding traditions from Gabon. There’s a few different styles of weddings in Gabon, some people have a “civil” wedding, which is similar to Western weddings – bride wearing white, the couple exchanging vows, usually officiated by a judge or Christian priest.

The other main style of wedding is “traditional” or “customary” (like in the above music video) – blue is a much more common wedding colour, but there are lots of beautiful colour combinations and patterns, usually coordinated for the whole family. There’s a great rundown on traditional Gabonese wedding outfits at D&D Clothing.

For a traditional wedding, the ceremony involves the groom and his family gathering up symbolic items for a dowry from a list provided by the bride’s family. The bride will then take a “ticket” of the dowry, place it at her father’s feet and ask for his blessing. Once the ticket is accepted and the blessing is given, the bride is seated on her mother-in-law’s knee and the marriage is official.

The bride usually carries a basket for the ticket, traditional fans to obscure her face, and other wedding symbols (especially in Fang traditional weddings, who are about a quarter of Gabon’s population). There’s also fun traditions like setting up “tolls” between the two families, where members of the other family must throw money to pass. Gabonese blogger Chérine has some beautiful pics from her own wedding at her site Chey Libreville, with an article (in French) about cross-cultural weddings and how to blend different traditions.

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