How Traditional Marriage Is Performed In Ghana

Since marriage in Ghanaian culture is considered the official joining of two families, a large emphasis is placed on getting family permissions and blessings before the wedding.

So the day finally arrives when a Ghanaian man comes to the realization that the woman he is dating is the one that he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

In Ghana, the groom requests permission through the custom of “knocking on the door.” Bearing gifts, he visits his potential in-laws accompanied by his own family. If his “knock” is accepted the families celebrate, and wedding planning begins.

The knocking on the door ceremony also includes the groom visiting the home of his bride to be (with the purpose of formally announcing their wedding plans) with representatives from his family. This could be anyone from his parents to a senior uncle within the family.

Often times this ceremony is performed a week or two before the actual traditional marriage ceremony. The knocking (“kookooko”) is derived from the Ghanaian tradition of knocking at the entrance of a house before entering as a visitor.

During the “kookooko” the spokesperson of the groom to be, will explain in the most lyrical language, that the groom, has seen a “beautiful flower” in the house of the bride’s family that he desires and would like to “uproot” that flower, not steal, from its keeper, hence they are here to ask for the brides hand in marriage and inquire about what is required in order to make that flower his own.

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The Traditional Wedding

During the ceremony, the Ghanaian bride wears a wrap cloth made of kente or any beautifully woven material, lace, print etc, a headpiece, a blouse and a skirt made out of the same fabric.

The traditional marriage ceremony involves the performance of certain local customs. There are as many variations of the custom according to the ethnic groups they belong to in Ghana. Two things common to the various customs are: a gathering of the extended families of the couple; and payment of a bride-price to the bride’s parents.

Occasions Gallery: Amazing Traditional Brides

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In practice, most at times, the knocking on the door ceremony and the traditional marriage ceremony are done on the same day. Under the Customary Marriage and Divorce Law PNDC law 112 (1985), the marriage is eligible for registration under the ordinance when the traditional Ceremony have been performed.

The couple can then proceed to a court of law or a registrar of marriages to register the marriage under the ordinance.

Ordinance Marriage (Optional in the traditional Marriage)

In Ghana today, some couples perform the traditional wedding alone as a marriage ceremony, however, most couples also go on to perform the western wedding in a church in addition to the traditional marriage ceremony.

Ordinance marriage or a marriage under the Marriage Ordinance is regulated by the Marriages Act, 1884-1985, and it is optional in traditional marriage. One of the parties in the intended marriage must give notice of marriage to the Registrar Marriage of the district where the marriage will take place. The Registrar will publish notice of the intended marriage for twenty-one days and then issue a certificate if no objections are made against that marriage.

The couple now submit the registrar’s certificate to a licensed marriage officer to perform the marriage. Then the couple must marry within three months, otherwise, the Registrar’s certificate becomes invalid and a new one must be obtained.

The church has a role to play in preparing the mind of each member. The leaders and marry counselor of the church of both parties share their wisdom and experience. They educate them on the essence of a good marriage, respect for each other’s personality combined with that deep intimacy, physical, mental and spiritual commitment, which makes a nurturing and growth oriented marriage journey.

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