African American culture is rich in time-honored traditions to use and create very special wedding vows. Draw from music, poetry and history for inspiration. Tie in the old with the new. Stating your vows is an extremely important public declaration. Write vows that are romantic, sincere and full of words from your heart.
African Drum Prelude to Vows
The drum is deeply rooted in African American culture. Incorporate a connection between African and American traditions with a real African “drum roll” before saying your vows. Have one or a group of drummers beat drums while walking down the aisle. Assign one drummer to address the crowd and say, “…And now, before God, our ancestors, and the circle of brothers and sisters gathered today, (name of bride) and (name of groom) will state their vows."
Vows of the Village
The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” originated from the Igbo culture of Nigeria. African American couples will need the love and support from their “village” of family members and friends. Brides and grooms should consider writing “vows to the village.” A bride can include vows to the children of the groom, and vice versa, to show honor and respect for the multiple roles and new relationships that will form.
Our Recipe for Love
Use herbs from Africa to write vows as a “recipe for love.” Here is an example to spark your creative juices…
(To be spoken by the bride): To you, my beloved, I entrust to you, alone my recipe for love. It’s made with herbs from Africa, our Motherland and includes Grains of Paradise, to represent the haven I will create for you to come home to each day; Jasmine, for the sweet spirit that will fill our lives; and, cayenne, for the spice that will fill our nights.
(To be spoken by the groom): And to you, my love, I offer mustard seeds, to represent the faith I have in you and in our love; allspice, because you have all the spice I could possibly ever need; and thyme, to represent my vow to love you forever.
Station a small tall table and place the herbs in small glass bowls on the table. The bride and groom will hold up the bowl and look directly into the eyes of each other as they state the vow for each herb represented in their “recipe for love.”
Vows Before You Jump the Broom
The tradition of jumping the broom dates back to Africa, and represents sweeping the problems of the past away. During slavery, African Americans could not marry. After slavery, couples reinstated the tradition. Today, brides and grooms jump over elaborately decorated brooms at the close of the ceremony. Consider writing a short, one-line vow to make before the two of you jump the broom, such as:
(Husband’s name), when I jump this broom with you, I will be jumping for joy because I will be spending my life with the man that was meant for me.
(Wife’s name), when I jump this broom with you, I will have a clean sweep and a new beginning with the only woman in the world for me right by my side.
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Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.