African American Wedding Reception Ideas

by Ashley Brown

Show pride in your heritage during your reception.

Bride image by Francois du Plessis from Fotolia.com

While your wedding ceremony may be traditional or solemn, the wedding reception is a time for celebration. Incorporate aspects of your African American culture into your wedding reception to show pride in who you are, and who you are becoming. Highlight the cultural influences that have inspired each of you. After all, your union bridges two families who are likely to have their own distinct heritages.

Decorations

Creating an ambiance that reflects your African American heritage can be as easy as selecting racially appropriate cake toppers in the correct skin tones of you and your significant other.

Selecting African flowers will add both vibrant colors and heritage to your reception venue. The African Wedding Traditions site suggests choosing from a variety of the following African plants and flowers to display: daisies, violets, orchids, queen lilies, irises, proteas and hibiscus flowers.

Music

The range of music you can feature at an African American reception encompasses everything from African drums to hip hop music. Jazz, rhythm and blues or gospel music may also be appreciated for their aesthetic appeal and cultural roots. Whatever music you choose, keep your guest list in mind. For example, older or religious guests may not appreciate rambunctious music with a lot of vulgarity.

Food

Food has always played an important role in the lives of African Americans. When selecting the food that you want served at your wedding reception, consider creating a menu that is inspired by your favorite home cooked meals. While these foods may significantly vary according to the part of the country you are from—think Cajun cuisine if you are from Louisiana, soul food typically encompasses a wide range of tastes. The Wedding Channel website rationalizes that soul food can be appropriate for receptions following Western or Afrocentric themed ceremonies as long as the presentation is done appropriately and elegantly.

African Traditions

Whether you want to represent your specific African roots or wish to honor a general African marriage tradition, incorporating African traditions into your wedding reception is a way to highlight your appreciation of the past, your joy in the present and your hope for the future. Since your guests may not be familiar with the African traditions you choose to incorporate, educate them prior to the event. Consider making a verbal announcement before the tradition, narrating during or having a written explanation presented on each table. While many traditions, such as jumping the broom, holding a libation ceremony to honor your ancestors and sharing kola nuts take place during the ceremony, you may incorporate them into the reception as well.

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About the Author

Ashley Brown began writing in 2005 for “The Albrightian,” the student newspaper of Albright College. The same year, she began working as a writing tutor and editor for the school's writing center. Brown holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Delaware.