In South Africa, we are a melting pot of different cultures and traditions. Our weddings incorporate printed garments, meals, dancing and singing, and various other cultural ceremonies. Despite the Westernisation of most of the South African culture, our weddings are something that uphold their ancient traditions and values.

The traditional South African wedding dress is the epitome of any South African cultural wedding. There is diversity in the vibrant colours, prints and styles of these dresses. These traditional dresses are so pretty that we are starting to see them worn to events throughout the world. The designs and fabric are being embraced by people beyond the African continent.

What makes a dress traditional though? No matter what tribe or region you come from, there are significant cultural traditions to be withheld. Think of bold prints and primary colours, beautiful head-wraps and colourful beads. We can then add to that some animal skin or feathers, and end up with a most unique wedding ensemble.

The Traditional Zulu Wedding Outfit

Zulu traditional attire has a unique print that differentiates it from other cultural wear. It is laced with bold colours, fancy accessories and intricate beaded artworks. The conventional Zulu traditional wedding outfit is made up of the “isidwaba” – a short leather skirt, the “isicwaya” – a piece of leather or cloth to cover the breasts, and finished off with the “inkehli” – a beaded hat. The main colours for a Zulu traditional wedding outfit are black, white and yellow.

The Shwe-Shwe Traditional Wedding Dress

Shwe-Shwe is a fabric made up of colourful geometric prints and diverse patterns. It is usually worn by Xhosa women and married Sotho women.

Traditional Xhosa Wedding Attire

Xhosa traditional wedding attire is characterised by stripes and solid coloured fabrics, called the “umbhaco”. If you want to stand out even more, you accessorise your get-up with beads and matching “iquiya” head covering.

Venda Traditional Wedding Outfit

The Venda wedding attire is possibly one of the most vibrant of traditional dresses. It is usually a festive blend of bright yellows, blues, reds and pinks. The fabric is made up of striped patterns. Add some beaded necklaces and bangles and you’re all set.

The Sepedi Traditional Wedding Wear

The Sepedi tribe comes from the Northern parts of South Africa and their traditional attire is a colourful culmination of yellow, blue, orange and pink.

Traditional Tsonga Floral Attire

Next up we have the bright and bold Tsonga Traditional Wedding outfits in shades of pink, yellow, green and blue, and highlighting some floral prints. In most cases their outfit consists of a knotted skirt called a “xibelani”, which is ideal for their traditional dancing.

Sophisticated Traditional Tswana Attire

The Tswana traditional wedding outfits are less flashy than most of the other South African cultural garb. The fabric is similar to the Xhosa and Sotho shwe-shwe but is characterised by muted blue prints and simple styles.

Shwe-Shwe Sotho Traditional Wedding Outfit

Last but not least, we have the restrained Sotho Traditional Wedding Outfit. It is usually a blue shwe-shwe fabric in a simple and modest style, often adorned with simple lace to give it a classy edge.

Regardless of which tradition and culture you plan to embrace on your special day, you will be sure to stand out as unique.


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The Traditional South African Wedding Dress 1

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