Inspiring Traditional South African weddings and tips 2021
3 traditional South African wedding photoshoots for inspiration!
Traditional South African weddings are probably the most exciting and beautiful weddings to attend! Well, at least from my perspective.
If you are looking for fantastic inspiration to plan your traditional South African wedding, then I can definitely help you out with some tips and how-tos as an experienced wedding photographer in Johannesburg!
Join me as I go through 3 phenomenal traditional South African wedding photoshoots I have done and get inspired! And stick around for the tips and tricks to help make your traditional South African wedding photos shine!
First, have a look at these three extraordinary traditional South African weddings I have photographed, then I’ll cover tips from each, such as when to plan the ceremony, or what month is the best to have your wedding – considering the season, and even what you can do if it rains!
1.Traditional Sotho South African wedding.
2.Traditional South African wedding with a Christian ceremony.
3.Traditional Zulu wedding “Umembeso” ceremony.
1. Traditional Sotho South African Wedding- Hunadi and Thabo
First up let me introduce you to the traditional South African wedding couple above – Hunadi and Thabo who had a traditional Sotho wedding ceremony which includes their traditional wedding attire.
The ceremony took place at the bride’s home in Etwatwa but did not stop there. What made this photoshoot even more exciting was taking the bridal party and couple to Carnival City where we got the most terrific bridal party and couple photos!
As fate would have it the heavens opened and it started raining, this, however, did not stop this amazing traditional wedding couple from getting the most from their photos! And once the rain stopped, back in Etwatwa we had some breathtaking sunset colours to finish off this photoshoot!
Creating beautiful traditional South African wedding photos.
I am going to break this down and let you in on what makes these traditional South African wedding photos so successful. As a wedding photographer in Johannesburg, I look at a few factors that can influence your final photos – mainly the location, the lighting and time.
You want to be able to look back on your wedding photos with a smile, don’t you?
So, the more communication there is between the photographer and the bridal couple about what to expect the better! As the details can make or break your wedding photos. Let’s get into it!
• Location – In a traditional South African wedding, there are certain traditions such as the wedding being held at the bride’s home which might take away from you dream photoshoot ideas about your wedding however, you can still decide where to have the couple and bridal party photos taken as the bride. And this can make all the difference!
Carnival City≫ was absolutely perfect for this as it suited the colours of the traditional South African wedding dress, she wore to a T. It was awesome and definitely somewhere I would recommend for any fun-filled photoshoot! Carnival city is so colourful all on its own and a little rain was not going to change that at all!
• Lighting – Photography is after all the study of light, and you will hear all photographers talk about the golden hour. This is normally the last hour of sunset and when you want to aim to do your couple photos if possible.
The rain did interfere a bit here but at least we still got these amazing sunset photos at the end! Also, remember that the sun will set at different times during the year, so be sure to check the sunset in your wedding location for the day of your wedding, and work around that if it’s possible.
• Time – Putting together a realistic timeline and viewing the venue with your wedding photographer in Johannesburg is important. The photographer should be able to tell you how much time they will need for various things like capturing details, the couple photoshoot, bridal party etc.
Here is your chance to let the photographer know how long the ceremony will last and what traditions to expect during the ceremony, as many wedding traditions are different in traditional South African weddings.
• Communication – “is key” This way you can work out the best flow with the least amount of pressure, and the more time you have to create beautiful wedding photos the better!
2. Traditional South African wedding with a Christian ceremony – Andrea and Lungelo!
As a wedding photographer in Johannesburg, I get to interact with and see a mixture of beautiful cultures, different denominations, beliefs, and traditions come together.
Andrea and Lungelo’s wedding is a perfect example of this as they had a Christian ceremony, but did not lose their traditional roots, the bride still dressed in her stunning traditional South African wedding dress and the groom in his traditional African attire while using colourful traditional wedding décor and accessories in their ceremony and reception.
How we planned Andrea and Lungelo’s traditional South African wedding!
Going back to our pointers above, when Andrea and Lungelo first contacted me they had their wedding set up for around 12 noon, and outdoors in a Marquee.
Which is not the best time of day for photos but thankfully they had been to their friend’s wedding where I was the photographer in charge and they loved the results! They were incredibly happy to take advice from me as an experienced photographer and were quite flexible.
Following the pointers above, we did a venue viewing together and as a result, we got to change things here and there to create such a beautiful set of traditional wedding photos!
- Location. This beautiful couple picked The Faith Fellowship Christian Family Church in Ennerdale for their wedding ceremony. We set out to do a scheduled venue viewing and I discovered that the churchyard was is in full sunlight, with not a tree in sight and surrounded by a brick wall, limiting photo opportunities quite a bit.
With a bit of planning the couple ran me through what they wanted to do, and we also drove around a bit in the area and found the above AMAZING locations within five minutes of the venue to take their couple photos! The couple’s friends were astonished that these photos were taken in Ennerdale! This just goes to show how beneficial it is to do a venue viewing with your photographer.
- Lighting. The lighting was not going to play along with the look the couple wanted to achieve, so we discussed this at length. The marquee (pole tent) was of utmost importance, as this would be the only shade provided for guests and lend a bit of shade to the photos.
Using a white marquee is the best advice I can give here – as a coloured marquee creates colour casts on faces and can make everything else look a completely different colour.
After discussing a plan of action to make the light work the best for the photos, the couple moved the ceremony to 3 pm meaning the light would be less harsh and slightly more manageable with shadows etc.
This was a December wedding and sunset only happens around 7 pm during this time of the year which will have an impact on your photos if you want that golden hour look, so keep that in mind in your planning.
By the time the ceremony was finished at around 4 pm, there was enough shade at the entrance of the church to do the family photos, and it was rather overcast due to a storm (common in December) coming in.
It is important to remember that the rainy season is normally December/January in South Africa, so you do need to be prepared to have rain on your wedding day if you plan around these dates.
- Time – Luckily, this was a small wedding, so the time was much more manageable, and I had an hour with the couple to take photos at the locations we had scouted out.
This meant we could explore a bit and the lighting by that time, around 5 pm was perfect with dramatic clouds coming in and suited this couple’s traditional South African wedding attire perfectly!
- Communication – I believe proper communication leads to uniquely beautiful wedding photos and this is what really made the photos from this traditional South African wedding work! The couple wanted fantastic photos and were willing to do what was necessary to get them!
3. Traditional Zulu wedding with Lindo and Nkuleleko
This was by far the most traditional wedding I have photographed, and although it was not the complete traditional Zulu wedding which includes several ceremonies, it does give some substantial insight into the Umembeso ceremony which occurs after Lobola has been paid and the groom visits the bride’s family home with gifts for the family!
You can see a few more photos from Lindo and Nkuleleko’s traditional Zulu wedding here≫.
Traditional Zulu weddings can be a little chaotic if you aren’t used to it, but these weddings are exciting and so much fun to be a part of!
With so many amazing photo opportunities to be had. Like the fierce Zulu warriors jumping in the air and the looks of pure joy on family faces as they receive gifts. You can be sure to have a blast as a wedding photographer!
The best thing to do with a traditional Zulu wedding is to go with the flow as you do not have much control over how things are planned during the ceremony and always be ready to catch the captivating flow of traditions like you would at an event photoshoot.
As a Zulu bridal couple there are some important points that need to be captured to remember this traditional Zulu wedding ceremony, so be sure to discuss this with your photographer before your ceremony to make sure they are captured perfectly.
Key things to look out for from this traditional South African wedding.
- Traditional Zulu wedding dress attire – Both Lindo and Nkuleleko dressed in traditional Zulu South African wedding attire for their wedding which includes animal skins, a veil of beads for the bride, as well as a hat and she carries a blade with her as seen below. The various pieces of clothing are significant and should be well captured.
- Brides Parade – when the groom’s family arrives, the bride’s father brings her out of the house and will parade her in front of the groom’s family.
- Groom giving gifts to the bride’s family – this is the most important part of the ceremony and is a sign of respect from the groom to the bride’s family and should be captured in detail.
- Dance “competition” and dance celebrations – There is plenty of dancing and celebration during and throughout the ceremony, and this can be very animated with lots of singing included. The families will also have a bit of a dance-off between them, and the bride and groom will dance together after the gifts have been given over.
Unfortunately having no control over this also means the photos are often in the middle of the day in an area that may not have the best backgrounds for photos, so as a wedding photographer you may have some challenges to overcome and consider with this type of traditional South African wedding.
But it also creates some amazing photo opportunities which you do not get anywhere else in the world so be sure to get every photo you can and enjoy immersing yourself in a different culture!
As you can see there are so many different types of traditional South African weddings, and it is becoming more diverse in modern times, with mixing traditions and beliefs. These weddings are all beautiful, colourful, and happy celebrations of love.
It can be tricky to photograph but as long as you choose a great photographer and communicate with them to ensure that they are aware of what will be happening on your day. And If you are in Johannesburg then it would be preferable to choose a wedding photographer in Johannesburg who has some experience photographing your type of traditional South African wedding, you should end up with some astounding photos!
Try to be flexible where possible and listen to the photographer’s concerns over light, time, weather and any other advice they may have – addressing these points will help you get the most amazing photos on your wedding day!
As an experienced wedding photographer in Johannesburg, I had the pleasure of photographing a few traditional South African weddings and Renphotos is ready to take on any new challenge or culture you can throw at us – bring it on!
Renphotos loves learning about new cultures and can customise packages to suit your needs where necessary adding hours and anything you might need. So be sure to view the wedding packages below, and get in touch to discuss your wedding in more detail, we cannot wait to hear from you!