Go Big or Go Home: Ethiopian Wedding

Hello dear readers! It’s been a while since our last post, and that’s because we were busy getting married! Now, we may be biased (obviously), but it was an amazing wedding on an amazing day 😀 .

The day started when both the groomsmen and bridesmaids got ready at their respective places. Crews of cameramen followed everyone around as they gussied up (and re-gussied up, because sometimes, the cameramen just weren’t happy with the shots they got). Ultimately, everyone fancied up nicely 🙂 .

As that was finishing up, the musicians arrived. You see, it’s Ethiopian tradition for both the groom’s party and the bride’s party to get into singing “battles” extolling the virtues of each member of the couple when the groom arrives at the home of the bride to escort her to church. For Henry, he received the services of two male musicians who sang, played music, and danced to hype him up. Mariam had a female singer do the same for her.


Henry’s singers led his groomsmen and various other friends in chants and dancing as Henry approached his car, which was first in a small convoy. They kept singing until he got into his car, and then they followed him to where Mariam was staying. They arrived first, got out, and kept on singing his praises (literally!).

Ready to pick up my spouse-to-be

On Mariam’s side, once she was done with makeup and other preparations, it was just time to wait for Henry to arrive. And when that happened, a lot of singing and dancing occurred. Shortly thereafter, it was time to go to church!


Ready to welcome my spouse-to-be

Oh wait, no! We had brunch first. Yes, considering that we all woke up at 5am to get ready and take on the long (but fun) day, it was quite important to eat before mass. So Mariam’s family had organized a delicious buffet brunch that everyone enjoyed.

Saying “I do” at the Holy Saviour Catholic Church

The church ceremony took place at Holy Saviour Catholic Church. It’s a moderately-sized church, and it was just lovely on the day of the wedding. Preceding our entrance into the church were five children (who were our cousins and children of very close friends) who served as candle holders, ring bearers, bell boy, and flower children. It was too adorable for words!

After that, mass was held, which culminated in the big moment – making our vows and exchanging rings. Henry was so excited that he blurted “I do” quite loudly – into the microphone 😛 . It made for a pretty funny moment for all assembled. Mariam, ever the more sensible of the two, was much more refined in her vows 🙂 .

Holy Savior Catholic Church

And with that, Henry and Mariam were married!

Just Married!

The Reception, aka All Dance, All the Time

Following the church ceremony, everyone moved on over to the Sapphire Addis Hotel for the reception. The bridal party and the groomsmen retired to their rooms to get changed for the evening’s events. Whereas everyone was essentially dressed in white or white accents for church, the evening meant that everyone (but Mariam) was dressed in green and black accents. So we all changed, and when the boys were ready, they sauntered over in fashionly fashion to escort the girls down to the reception hall.

Oh Yeah!

Oh wow!

The wedding party entered the reception in pairs – one groomsman and one bridesmaid at a time, each pair dancing a different traditional Ethiopian dance. Four different dances led the way: Guragigna, Tigrigna, Amarigna, and Oromigna. Then the children came in dancing Wolayita (again: super cute!). And finally, Henry and Mariam entered the hall, greeting the guests, all before breaking into a medley of the four types of dance themselves.

Here comes the bride and groom

The wedding party then took to the buffet tables, where Henry and Mariam had to do some ceremonial cutting of the bull that had been freshly slaughtered for the reception in traditional Ethiopian fashion. When that was done, the guests lined up to get some delicious, delicious wedding food. There was a huge array of both Western and Ethiopian food, all alongside what appeared to be an infinite volume of sumptuous desserts!

For a brief pause, everyone partook of the huge feast. And then: The first dance. Henry and Mariam took to the floor and slow-danced to Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé’s duet on “Perfect”, after which, the dancing among the guests – young, old, and everyone in between – began and never stopped.



Ok. So maybe the dancing did eventually end, but it wasn’t for some time. The reception started at 6pm, and we left the hall a bit past 11pm, and the guests actually stayed and danced till well, well, well past midnight. That’s a successful reception if ever there were one!

The Mels

But that’s not the end of this story! After the church and reception, the ceremony was not done! There was also the Mels, an Ethiopian tradition where the closest family and friends gather to fete the couple in a more intimate setting. “Intimate” in this case meaning only about 100 people as opposed to the 400 who were at the reception :P.

So, two days after the reception, we found ourselves in Bishoftu again, where one of Mariam’s aunts organized an outdoor mels. We started the day getting gussied up in Ethiopian garb, and then spent the rest of the day doing more of the same as during the reception – we ate and we danced.



We did that all day long: Eat, dance, Eat, Dance…

And now, it’s all done.

It was the perfect capstone to an incredible month in Ethiopia.

You know those events that you’ll never forget? This was one of them. It would never have been possible without the love and support of all our families and friends. You all know who you are, but we really need to single out Mariam’s mother Bibi for particular recognition :). We thank you infinitely, and thank everyone else enormously for all that you did to make this a truly perfect occasion :).


The Wedding Party

And with that, back to real life! Thank you, dear readers, for following us on this journey! Here’s to many more adventures in the years to come!



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