In South Africa, a Zulu wedding takes on many forms.
The bride may change her clothes three times during the day, in order to show off to her in-laws just how beautiful she is in different colours.
For the wedding ceremony she will change into a traditional outfit (see picture, right). Her flaring red headdress is reminiscent of the hairstyle of her ancestors. Traditionally, this headdress was made of her mother's hair.
During the ceremony the parties from both the bride and the groom's side compete through Zulu dance and songs. After the ceremony everybody tootles off to the groom's home for the traditional slaughtering of a cow by his family, to show their acceptance of the bride.
She then places money inside the stomach of the cow while the wedding guests watch. This symbolises that she is now part of the family.
The wedding ceremony ends with the bride giving gifts in the form of blankets to her new family. This tradition is called ukwaba. Even the long-deceased family members receive gifts and are represented by the living ones. The family cover themselves with the blankets in an open area where everybody will see. The spectators ululate, sing, and dance for the family.I was fortunate enough to witness a Zulu wedding many years ago and it was such a joyful, colourful and emotional occasion that the memories are still bright and fresh.