Umembeso- meaning, step-by-step process and best decor ideas with pics

Umembeso- meaning, step-by-step process and best decor ideas with pics

Umembeso is a process in the traditional Zulu wedding. This cultural practice is one that is valued by many that still stick to traditions. It happens once the ilobolo has been paid. It involves the groom, together with his family coming to the bride’s family with gifts.

Umembeso- meaning
Image:, @zumi
Source: UGC

A Zulu bride is one of the most beautiful people in a wedding, especially a traditional one. Apart from the outstanding Zulu attire that people wear on such traditional occasions, the process is what captivates many in attendance. This could be your chance to check out the latest Swati dresses that people will be wearing. The umembeso is one such event that is interesting to follow. The following is a breakdown of what happens.

Umembeso process

Umembeso- meaning
Image:, @umembeso
Source: UGC

Even as you plan for the umembeso dresses you will be wearing, you need to know about the umembeso. This is the next step towards a show of commitment to spend a lifetime together.

Read also

30 Best Father's Day gifts and ideas for South Africa

1. Letter of invitation

First, you need to have received the letter. This serves as the official letter of request for the marriage. Usually, an uncle of the groom delivers the request to the bride's family. This letter is what serves as a formal request from the groom's family to be given a date with the bride's family. The excitement that comes with this is what makes most brides elated. It is this umembeso invitation that kick starts lobola negotiations, which marks the recognition of a formal engagement. It is after this that your Xhosa traditional wedding may be viable.

2. Planning

Umembeso is the ceremony that is carried out at the brides family to welcome the groom and his family. Usually, people take up to 3 weeks to plan the ceremony at the groom's family. The groom’s family come with gifts for the bride’s family that then serve as a token of appreciation for their new wife or bride known as makoti. It is up to the lady and her family to arrange things and find a time that is appropriate for everyone.

Read also

M-Net novela Legacy: A new classy telenovela that will dazzle viewers in South Africa

If you have a planner then things may be easier. If not, you may have to outsource everything yourself. This may include marquees, chairs and tables, in addition to buying umembeso decor items and food. You also need to factor in the accessories that you will need as a bride. Most of these accessories will be beaded and designed specially for your day. Make sure you come up with a budget that will reasonable and not overwhelming. Either way, you can be sure that the Zulu traditional wedding decor will be one of the things that captures the attention of all.

READ ALSO: Thailand's king marries bodyguard in surprise wedding

3. The ceremony

A day to the D-day, you need to perform a traditional function of informing the ancestors that the day is in the next day. Most people will thank the ancestors for being with them. The venue is also not a problem since the bride's mother hosts the celebration. The lobola process ends up with the two families becoming one.

Read also

Top 35 celebrity nail art ideas you need to know

The bride has to wait in a room until her in-laws arrive. Their arrival is signaled by traditional singing Zulu wedding songs from both sides of the families, as though in sort of competition. When the bride and her family get to the gate, the in-laws who are outside must provide some money, which they place on the ground as a sign that they really want to be with the bride that they came for. Once the gate is opened, the uncle of the bride hands her over to her groom and what follows is a celebration of dance and singing. More often than not, people get emotional as the biggest part of the process is done.

4. Lunch is served

As it is the case with all African ceremonies, food in a major part of it all. After the celebrations, guests and family get down for lunch. You will get to enjoy fine Zulu traditional food and in the process learn a few thing about Zulu culture food being the main thing.

Read also

15 best budget outdoor and indoor wedding venues in Cape Town

5. Transitioning from the Zulu girl

After lunch is done, the bride must go back into the house for a change from her Zulu traditional attire into a new dress, that is bought by the in-laws. This is symbolic of the bride being a part of their family. An aunt from the groom’s side will help get dressed as the rest of her in-laws get the gifts ready. Changing from the Zulu traditional clothing is significant.

When she comes out again, there will be more singing and dancing before the bride finally sits down for the ceremony's gifting part of to commence.The bride's mom, sister, aunts, uncle and herself will receive gorgeous doeks, Ndebele blankets, throws, fabric, and pillows. The brides family will feel very respected and honoured by the ritual of the Zulu traditional wedding.

You will sing a lot of African wedding songs on your day. Most brides that have had to go through the process report that the best part of the Umembeso is the dancing and singing. After all the tension of the negotiations are done, the bride and groom get down to enjoying their day. The smiles of family and the warmth that the two are shown are what make them have even more Joy. When a marriage gets to start right, everythign else falls into place.

Read also

What is lobola in South Africa? Meaning, ceremony, letter, negotiations


  • Couple celebrate 20 years of marriage despite people's reservations
  • Man shares heart-warming story of how he knew he found the one
  • 30 best traditional wedding decor ideas in South Africa

Source: Briefly News

Peris Walubengo avatar

Peris Walubengo (Lifestyle writer) Peris Walubengo is a content creator with 5 years of experience writing articles, researching, editing, and proofreading. She has a Bachelor of Commerce & IT from the University of Nairobi and joined in November 2019. The writer completed a Google News Initiate Course. She covers bios, marketing & finance, tech, fashion & beauty, recipes, movies & gaming reviews, culture & travel. You can email her at

Online view pixel