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Jamaican Wedding

According to Jamaican wedding traditions, not less than 12 cakes are provided for the wedding. In the old days, there was a cake parade but today that has reduced to a cake procession. This is when about a dozen girls dressed in head ties and white dresses, silently transport on their heads, a large amount of black rum cake through the village to the wedding venue also called a wedden booth.

 A Jamaican wedding is a whole village affair that is supervised by a chosen godfather and godmother.

Traditions and Customs

The religious ceremony of a Jamaican wedding is similar to that of a typical western-style church wedding.

Before going to the church the villagers hold a party of food and music before praying for the couple who go to be wedded by a priest.

The Bidding

On their return from church, they are met by song and dance and congratulatory chants from villagers, family, and friends. Then the godfather better known as wedden godfadda starts a bidding ritual where bidders put money onto a bidding plate for the cakes to be brought out. 

The money is to be used by the couple to start their new life. The bidding goes on until the wedden godmadda feels that a sizeable amount has been raised for its purpose. This is when she calls for the traditional black rum cakes to be revealed.

Two cakes are brought the three-tiered ones. The cake bearers are supposed to slice the bottom tier and a local belief is that the one who finishes slicing first is to be married next. The couple enjoys the first slice as they sit through speeches.

The Music

These are usually long speeches that mostly praise and bless the couple. After the speeches the crowd dance to the tunes of a fiddler, banjo and a mento band. The couple enjoys a dance alone, with their parents before everybody is allowed to join in. The party unwillingly came to an end the next morning.

During the dancing, the wedden godmadda sells slices of bread and the extra money known as brawta is handed to the new husband and wife. At a typical traditional Jamaican wedding, the people eat dinner after dancing.

The Food

The popular food at a Jamaican wedding apart from the huge amount of cake is rice and curry made from a goat with peas. The animal is usually pre-selected by the couple. Other foods include roast yam, chicken and peas served with rice, boiled banana and not to forget delicious run dung. The secret to the curry is to cook it real slow until the flavors build up.

The black rum cake is made from spices and dried fruit that’s drowned in rum for some time to give it the black color. Sugar is also burnt to produce the black color.

The whole village helps out in all the tasks throughout the ceremony. They ensure the wedding is successful by making it a communal affair.

Drinks

The choice is mainly between ginger beer, a liquor made from cane, a lot of rum and a good amount of wine.  

The godmadda is culturally tasked with packing sufficient takeaway food for the couple to take home.

At the end of the ceremony, the godparents escort husband and wife to start a new life at their home.

The First Sunday After The Wedding

This is famously known as turn thanks day. It is the day when all who attended the wedding go to the church where it is officiated to give thanks to the union. During the church service, the godparents respectively take the hands of the couple and they verbally give the two to each other and advise them to live the way the biblical Isaac lived with his wife Rebecca. 

The Attire

Similar to a typical American wedding the bride wears a typical wedding gown, veil and accessories while the groom goes for a new suit.

Payments

The godparents collect funds from both families to cover wedding expenses. The community in general offers whatever they can manage in terms of moral support, physical help and financially to cater to the ceremony and the starting of a new life.

Difference With An American Wedding

For a Jamaican wedding, the purchase of large quantities of black rum cake is perhaps the only difference between an American wedding and a Jamaican wedding ceremony.

Conclusion

A Jamaican wedding loses its cultural value in the absence of the black rum cake. Although on the surface it's typically a western-style wedding, it's the small details of voluntary communal participation that matters at the end.

 

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