If there’s one thing on people’s minds when they get invited to an African wedding, it’s what to wear to an African wedding!
Although there are various options, and you can definitely wear what you would normally wear to a formal western wedding, traditional African clothing is always a great and (safe) option. You can never go wrong if you decide to rock an African print dress or ensemble to an African wedding.
Traditional African weddings are a beautiful way to embrace and celebrate African culture, heritage, and customs. As such, all wedding guests should follow a particular dress code on this big day.
If this is your first time attending an African wedding and you are still trying to figure out what you can wear, don’t worry; we got you!
Generally speaking, you can wear dresses, skirts, ensembles, jumpsuits or shirts (for men) made with the following fabrics and designs:
- Ankara fabric (a.k.a African print, African wax, Wax Hollandais, Kitenge)
- Kente cloth
- Aso Ebi style
- Shweshwe fabric dresses
- Dashiki dresses or ensembles
While these designs and fabrics have distinct characteristics, they share one quality. Each of these pieces exudes vibrant, bright colors and unique patterns reminiscent of traditional African style and modern African fashion.
Africans usually go all in when it comes to weddings, so if you go with traditional western attire, make sure you’re not underdressed!
What To Wear to an African Wedding: Traditional Wedding Outfits
The wedding dress code may vary depending on the couple’s ethnicity and where on the African continent they are from (whether it be South Africa, East Africa, or West Africa). If the wedding is taking place in Africa, it is also best to follow the style of said region. Here are a few African wedding guest dresses and styles to inspire you.
We recommend going with Ankara fabric as it’s the easiest to find and so versatile!
His & Hers African Print Oufits for Wedding Guests
Are you attending the wedding with your significant other? Then take a look at these beautiful matching his & hers Ankara outfits for wedding guests. You can check out the designs here.
Ankara/Kitenge Fabric Dresses
Ankara fabric, also known as Kitenge, Dutch wax or African print wax, is almost suitable for all types of dress styles, from the traditional long dresses and skirts to more modern interpretations, such as off-shoulders, round-necks, v-necks, butterfly sleeves, layered sleeves, puffy sleeves, or split sides.
However, while Ankara fabric comes in various fashions, one thing remains: an Ankara dress must have distinct, colorful prints and designs and varied textures.
Kente Cloth Dresses
Kente is another popular African attire worn by women across the continent of Africa. However, it’s most prominent in the Western regions where this fabric originated. Besides the African women who know and love this type of clothing, Kente fabric is also patronized mainly by African Americans in the United States.
Much like Ankara, Kente is characterized by bold patterned designs and bright colors. It’s woven in strips incorporating historically and culturally significant symbols to form a larger piece. Because of its meaning and overall aesthetic appeal, it’s suitable as a bridal gown and a guest’s wedding attire.
Aso Ebi Dresses
Aso Ebi also referred to as Ashoebi, Ashobie (Sierra Leone), or Asoebi, is a traditional attire worn in the regions of Nigeria during holidays and celebrations because it symbolizes solidarity and love of culture.
Compared to the other options mentioned above, Aso Ebi is a type of uniform worn to represent a specific identity among a particular group of people. For example, if you are close friends with the bride or a member of the bride’s family, you can wear an Aso Ebi to signify your role in the wedding.
Shweshwe is a printed, dyed cotton fabric that’s most commonly used in South Africa. This type of fabric was initially dyed indigo but now comes in a variety of cool tones. What’s more, it has intricate geometric patterns printed on it that make it stand out from the rest of the styles.
Finally, Dashiki fabric styles often come in loose shirts and short dresses. But if you want, it’s entirely possible to transform them into long gowns, suitable for numerous occasions. Dashiki is characterized by a plain cloth embellished with embroidery and patch pockets at the neckline and cuffs.
Dashiki is well-loved by many black people at large because it symbolizes black pride and unity among the black community.
Although men primarily wear this garment, it’s become a staple among the people in West Africa for its vibrant, colorful, loose, and extended features.
Traditionally worn as casual wear, this piece of fabric can be elevated to fit more formal events like African wedding ceremonies. With the right design and the right accessories, you can pull off a Dashiki dress as traditional African wedding guest attire.
Embellish Your Outfit With Different Jewelry Styles & Other Accessories
Wearing jewelry for an occasion such as an African wedding can change your look and make you exude a kind of elegance like never before.
Some examples of traditional African adornments include beaded jewelry, gold jewelry, cowrie shell jewelry, and kola nuts. African customs use jewelry more uniquely than their Western counterparts, which use conventional jewelry like necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings.
No matter the outfit you choose, don’t forget to accessorize!
Need more guidance and information before picking the best outfit for the occasion? Take a look at some of these FAQs to help you out.