Planning your Umembeso can be one of the most stressful yet most fun times in your life. We have compiled the a few things you need to do first to get started with planning for Your Umembeso . This process involves either going to your grooms house or them coming to your house...Plan with your family, and decide where the event will be held. Prepare the venue in the most suitable way...

What is Umembeso

Umembeso or izbizo is a Zulu tradition that celebrates the union of marriage between two individuals.  Many people combine the lobola and umembeso ceremonies, they are in fact separate ceremonies, even when they are performed on the same day. While Lobola can most easily be the process of paying the bride price, umembeso, is the giving of gifts to the bride’s family, specifically the bride’s mother, as a way of thanking her for raising the groom’s soon-to-be wife. In the Xhosa Culture, the bride will bring gifts for the family as well.

There are a number of different stages to a Zulu and wedding, the Umembeso ceremony is done after the ukuvuma ceremony before the wedding and umembeso is definitely not the last, some people see it as the point at which a bride is officially welcomed by the groom’s clan, with confirmation that the bride and groom are now traditionally married.

Ukuvuma is to welcome the groom to the brides family by slaughtering a goat of a sheep. Most cultures do this.

The Umembeso List

For the Umembeso, a list of gifts and their respective recipients is provided to the groom’s family ahead of time, who will then write to the bride’s family suggesting a date for the umembeso. Gifts generally include blankets, pinafores, head scarves, clothes, food, straw mats, and sometimes a live goat. More than just the handing over of gifts, the umembeso is a celebration with dancing and the slaughtering of animals.

The Umembeso Process

The groom’s family’s arrival is greeted with song and dance at the gate to the bride’s family home. Both families compete in song, with the groom’s family asking for permission to enter the yard by announcing that they have come bearing gifts. Traditionally a goat is prepared by the bride’s family as way of welcoming the groom’s family to their home, and in some instances small gifts will also be given to the groom’s family.

Planning For Umembeso

Just like any event, you would need to look at your budget and decide what would be most suitable for your Umembeso ceremony.

1. Tiffany, ghost chairs
2. Tents (Marquee, stretch free standing etc)
3. Couches, ottomans etc
4. Cocktail/bar chairs
5. Flooring (red carpet)
6. Decor items(Center pieces, under plates,etc)
7. Catering (Buffet, s 7 pit, braai, etc)
8.Wedding cakes, biscuits, etc)
9. Wedding gowns
10. Beauty therapy (make-up, etc)
11. Sound system
12. Photography & videography
13. Elegant Venue

Umembeso Programme

Get tips for preparing your Umembeso programmeThis is where many families clash especially when the union is multi cultural. It is important to sit down with your grooms family and decide how the process will be carried out. It is important to agree on the events of the day before you begin preparations. 

A general rule of the thumb for an African woman is to abide by the grooms family and follow their lead when it comes to the process. This is sometimes subject to discussion but situations vary by family.  

Umembeso Decor

Umembeso Decor


Plan your Umembeso decor to suit your taste. Consider the venue, is it dusty or is there paving? Is it indoors or outside? Consider the weather as well? Will it be likely to rain? If so, what necessary precautions will you put in place for your Umembeso?

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Umembeso Food

Umembeso Food With Rice and Potatoes



There is no specific menu for Umembeso Food, however, I can safely say no African wedding is complete without meat and in most instances pap, rice and potatoes. The general rule of planning Umembeso Food Menu for any African wedding is sumptuous dishes. Definitely include meat dishes like chicken, mutton, beef or goat meat.

See More: Umembeso Food Ideas 


Umembeso Outfits

On this day, you are not only dressing up for yourself, you are dressing up for your in-laws. Avoid skimpy clothing or dresses that are too revealing. it is important to consider a stylish but descent dress for this event. Some families insist on covering your head with a doek, you will need to discuss this with your fiancee.

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