Jamaican Wedding Traditions
For many couples, it is the allure of the tropical climate, stunning scenery and vibrant culture that makes Jamaica the ideal destination wedding location. For such couples, nothing short of paradise is an appropriate backdrop for their most perfect union.

Fabulously, Jamaica is not only beautiful but has a rich culture infused with wedding traditions which reflect the country’s African and European heritage. For destination brides who opt to wed in Jamaica, the option to incorporate these traditions into their wedding is another way to make their wedding unique and memorable.

The Wedding Cake

The wedding cake is of great significance in the Jamaican culture. Traditionally, the Jamaican wedding cake is a fruit cake laced with a dizzying amount of rum. As soon as the engagement is announced, it is the responsibility of the grandmother of the groom to soak dried fruit in white overproof rum for the duration of the engagement. The grandmother or mother of the bride then bakes the cake a week before the wedding. It is then carried to the venue, in a procession led by the matriarchs of the village, on the morning of the wedding.

The Wedding Dress

A piece of lace from the bride’s mother’s wedding gown is typically incorporated into the bride’s gown, which, along with those of the bridesmaids, is made by a local seamstress. It is from the bride’s wedding gown that her children’s christening gowns are made.

Building the Venue

As with raising children, secure and healthy marriages are considered as much the responsibility of the community as the couple. To this end, the construction of the venue is a community endeavour.

Prior to the wedding, the men of the community construct a marquee using coconut boughs. The groom is forbidden from participating in the construction of the structure, but obliged to supervise the work and subject to many taunts and jokes! The construction of the marquee is an all day event, accompanied by food and music.

Selecting the Goat

Curried goat is a staple on the menu of traditional Jamaican weddings. The prospective bride and groom select the family who owns the herd from which the goat to be eaten will be taken. The choice – which signifies trust and ‘good vibes’ – is of great significance and often fuels much gossip! Once chosen, a kid from the herd is isolated and tended on the bride’s familial land.

Night Before the Wedding

The mother of the bride prepares a relaxing ‘bush tea’ made out of locally grown lemon grass and lavender for the bride. The bride’s mother then hosts all women of marriageable age to an evening of laughter, where the married women tell risqué stories about their wedding night!

At the best man’s home, the groom and male villagers play dominoes and drink rum.

Wedding Day

Whilst the bride is getting ready, unmarried women sing humorous and tongue in cheek songs bemoaning the bride’s soon to be married status, and removal from their group.

Jamaican weddings are colourful and jovial all-day affairs. The marriage ceremony itself is typically Christian and held in the village church. After the ceremony, guests are provided with “mannish water” (a goat broth) before a lavish buffet meal. Following the meal, attention shifts to the dance-floor where first a mento band, then a DJ give attendees (usually the whole village!) the chance to showcase the latest dance moves, hairstyles and fashions! The bride and groom often leave their wedding by 1am, but the ‘afterparty’ often continues until well into the morning, with a breakfast of Ackee and Saltfish – Jamaica’s national dish – sometimes being served!

This information is generously provided by Alisha Fuller of Hummingbird Hall in Jamaica. If you are considering getting married in Jamaica, please visit their website for wedding options.

You are welcome to email us at info@weddingdetails.com with any suggestions for changes, additions or deletions.