A wedding is an important step in every woman’s life. Every lady wants to look her best on her wedding day, which makes choosing the right gown among thousands of wedding dresses really tough. For this reason, we have decided to compile a list of ten beautiful wedding gowns from all over Africa, so that you can find the traditional wedding dress you like and get some inspiration for your own bridal gown!
In this article, you can find some traditional wedding dresses pictures from different African countries/tribes. We hope that they will help you think of your own unique design of your traditional wedding gown. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
The traditional dress of Swaziland is Emahiya, which is a large piece of cloth wrapped around a person’s body in a toga-like manner. It is worn by both men and women. Emahiya usually comes in a red, black and white colour palette, where each colour has its own special meaning. Red is a symbol of fertility, black is a symbol of wealth and marriage, and white is a symbol of purity or transition.
However, you can also find many traditional garments in the colours of the Swaziland flag (red, blue and yellow). The fabric used in making the garments often features the Nguni shield, lions and crowns, or sometimes even the pictures of the king.
The design of the dress you see above does not follow the traditional ways exactly in terms of the silhouette, but instead takes some elements from the Emahiya and turns them into a unique garment inspired by the national dress. It is a very eye-catching gown, and it will definitely not go unnoticed.
Our next Country on the list of states with beautiful traditional wedding gowns is Ghana. Bridal dresses in Ghana are usually made out of the wonderfully vibrant cloth called Kente. It is a very popular fabric in West Africa, but in Ghana, it has special ceremonial value.
The cloth is actually hand-woven, and every design has its own story, which makes every garment unique. The fascinating and colourful shapes capture the attention and add some sparks to the wedding ceremony.
One of the most popular ways of crafting a wedding dress out of kente is featured above. It is often made into a tight-fitting dress with a peplum under the bust and a floor-length skirt. However, some brides only incorporate some kente elements in their otherwise snow-white dresses. It all depends on the personal taste.
The traditional wedding attire for women in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where the Habesha people are most prevalent, is the habesha kemis. It literally translates as Ethiopian dress.
The dress itself is made out of cotton and it usually comes in light shades, such as beige, grey or white. The most important part of any habesha kemis is the beautiful embroidery along the neckline, sleeve cuffs, the bottom of the dress and its middle. While each design is unique, all of them usually feature a large embroidered cross at the bottom.
Most habesha kemis wedding dresses are ankle- or floor-length, however, you might see some shorter versions, too. Some women also choose to finish off their look with a netela, a shawl with matching embroidery along the edges.
Rwandan traditional wedding dress is called mushanana. Usually worn over a bustier or a tank top, the dress consists of a wrapped skirt and a sash. Mushanana can be made out of any fabric of any colour, but most women choose light and transparent fabrics that create an illusion of a flowing liquid.
As you can see in the picture, mushanana works really great with shiny blue cloth. To add a little something special to their outfits, the bride and her bridesmaids are also wearing lots of jewellery, including the traditional headpieces.
Zulu (South Africa)
Now, to be honest, the sole purpose of this article was to showcase the traditional wedding wears of the Zulu people. Not to belittle the beauty of other national dresses, but this one blew our minds the moment we saw it. Doesn’t it look incredible?
The bride’s look consists of the isidwaba (leather skirt), isicwaya (animal skin that covers the chest) and an isicholo/inkehli (a traditional hat that signifies that the woman is already taken). Many women, including the one you can see above, also add an imvakazi, a beautiful beaded veil, which completes their amazing look.
Xhosa (South Africa)
Another wonderful wedding dress style that comes from South Africa is the one worn by Xhosa people. Even though they are roughly from the same region as Zulu, Xhosa’s wedding style could not be more different.
We will not go into too much detail about the different parts of the traditional Xhosa dress, but we will mention a few common features. First, most dresses come in black and white. Second, they all feature interesting geometric designs, from simple parallel lines to intricate repeating shapes. The dress you see above is only a single example of a Xhosa dress, so we recommend you to look them up, because they are truly beautiful.
Our list would not be complete without the gorgeous traditional wedding dresses of Yoruba people. They always stun with their beauty, intricacy, style and uniqueness. The dress itself consists of a buba (blouse), iro (wrap floor-length skirt), ipele (sash) and, of course, gele (head tie). It is made out of the ceremonial hand-woven dyed cloth called Aso-Oke
Every Yoruba wedding design we have seen always looks vibrant and stunning, and our picture of choice is no different. Notice the wonderful colour combination of the elements and the very pretty jewellery that goes along with the whole outfit. It is truly a 10/10.
The traditional wedding dress of Uganda is called Gomesi. It has a square neckline, puffed sleeves, and it is tied with a sash right below the waist. Each dress has two buttons above the heart. Most expensive dresses are made out of silk and might require over five metres of cloth. However, Gomesi can also be made out of cotton or linen.
Even though it is usually worn for special occasion, Gomesi is actually considered to be a daily dress in some regions of Uganda. To be fair, it is hard to imagine wearing something like what is pictured above on a daily basis. But who are we to judge?
Our penultimate entry is the Moroccan national wedding dress. While the whole concept of it is fairly simple — a floor-length kaftan with a jacket or a shawl on top — you might be surprised just how beautiful some designs can be.
Most dresses are adorned with shiny golden or silver threads, which glisten in the light and make the outfit look very luxurious. The style of this dress is actually very comfortable, so you can look amazing while feeling very cosy.
Our last pick is the classic Egyptian wedding dress. The gowns come in two distinctively different styles. The first one is golden top to bottom. Golden fabric, golden headdress, even golden jewellery can make you look and feel like a queen. However, it might be a bit much for some people.
If you want a slightly subtler look, you can consider the second option. It is pretty much a simple white dress, yet it is adorned with beautiful intricate designs and paired with some golden jewellery. It is simplistic yet regal-looking, so you can low-key look like a queen.
These are all wedding gown styles we could fit in one article. Did you like any of the bridal gowns we mentioned? Would you consider wearing one of them for your traditional wedding? What other countries wold you like us to feature next? Let us know in the comments! We would love to hear from you.