Samoan wedding traditions and practices are important to understand, especially if and when you yourself may be attending a ceremony. While some apply to family and some to guests, there are a number of elements that can both inspire and confuse if you are caught unaware. From dress code to the expected diet, always be sure to understand the culture you are spending time with, to show respect and kindness. Read on to see just a few usual sights at these proceedings.
The first point worth noting is the origin of the dress – it comes from the groom’s family as a gift to the bride. Wearing a dress from the groom’s side is a sign of respect for her fiancés family. It is sometimes new or sometimes handed down through generations, depending on the sizing and look. For the groom, culture and tradition, and of course the climate, normally ensures a suit and tie, or tux, is not really needed or enjoyed. Rather he usually opts to opt for the traditional lavalava. If the proceedings are indoors, a white shirt is normally worn with the traditional dress, or if outside, the groom may be shirtless. Guests also have a traditional dress in these times: females are expected to wear a floral dress or muumuu, while males will also wear lavalava.
Traditional Feast & Seating Arrangements
Traditional food is prepared in an underground oven known as an umu, which usually has a mix of roast chicken, pork, corned beef, taro, chop suey and greens. Not only is the range of food important, but also important is the seating arrangement, which is actually based on the custom of seating guests based on their social status. As well as their seating arrangements, guests are also served according to social status and are usually done so by the children of the families joining together.
Don’t Worry About The RSVP
Unlike more mainland ceremonies and receptions that have a strict guest list and a deadline for the RSVPs, for these traditional island ceremonies, many uninvited guests are expected and welcomed. From family members to guests in the respective village, everyone is welcome. If you happen to be in a village at the time of a wedding, you will most likely be invited. Generosity is a strong value at these events.
Attending a Samoan wedding can be a wonderfully beautiful event, and when you are aware of the traditions at play you can enjoy it fully and respectfully as an invited guest. Whether wanting your own traditional ceremony or wanting to find out etiquette before attending, be sure to read through the info available or contact us directly!