Modern Jamaicans follow the modern traditions of meeting, dating, falling in love and then deciding to do that whole marriage thing if that soul-mate search is finally over!
Although consent isn’t necessarily part of the proposal, most couples will share the news of their engagement with their families as quickly as possible and may hold a family gathering or party to celebrate.
Whilst modern couples tend to organise their weddings themselves, back in the day most of the family (and even local community) would have wanted to help, so it’s not unusual to still receive offers of help if you’re planning a Jamaican wedding. In fact, the more people that can be involved, the merrier, particularly if you are marrying into a Jamaican family – accepting help with parts of the planning can be a great way to bond with your new family and to find out more about Jamaican culture.
Now, getting ready for that wedding day is a big moment for any bride, but for a Jamaican bride, there’s an added layer of pressure! The custom is for everyone in the local community to come out to see the bride off for her wedding ceremony – nothing to fear from that, is there?
Well, the thing is, it’s also the custom to publicly criticize the bride if she’s looking less than her best, so when it comes to putting on a face for the day, it’s not just the groom a Jamaican bride is preparing for, it’s also for her “public”!
However, the most they can criticize is how she looks in her dress, because it’s tradition for the bride’s face to be veiled. She is traditionally escorted down the aisle by her father or by both of her parents and it’s custom for her husband to lift her veil and be the first one to see her face at the wedding.
As well as any flower girls, the bride is usually attended by her maid of honor, who is customarily referred to as “Chief” for the day! As you’d expect from her title, she takes on quite an organizational role on the day and can be fully expected to keep others in order if required!
As in many cultures, the bride and groom may disappear for a short while after the actual wedding vows … no, not for a little couple’s time out, it’s just usual custom for them to go to an ante-room or to the rectory to sign the wedding register and receive their wedding certificate.