Celebrate Your Black Heritage with These African Wedding Blessings

Updated 05/14/19
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Words are a powerful way to connect with your heritage. These proverbs and love poems, which either originate in Africa or were written by celebrated African-American poets, are a wonderful way to share your culture with your wedding guests. 

Quotes on Love

These age-old quotes are perfect for attaching to guest favors and printing on programs. Depending on your ceremony, African-American wisdom may be more appropriate than an ancient proverb; peruse our suggestions of both kinds of quotes below. 

  • “Where there is love there is no darkness.” - Burundian proverb
  • “When in love, a cliff becomes a meadow.” - Ethiopian proverb
  • “Love has to be shown by deeds, not words.” - Swahili proverb
  • “The man may be the head of the home but the wife is the heart.” - Kenyan proverb
  • “A woman is a flower in a garden; her husband is the fence around it.” - Ghanaian proverb
  • “Happiness requires something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” - Swahili proverb 
  • "Love shall come to complete you; first know then be yourself." - "Knobeco and Love," African folktale
  • "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." - African proverb
  • "A happy man marries the women he loves. A happier man loves the woman he marries." - African proverb
  • "Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you." - African proverb
  • "Our love is like the misty rain that falls softly but floods the river." - African proverb
  • "You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right." - Rosa Parks
  • “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” - Maya Angelou

Marriage Prayers, Blessings, and Poetry

You can weave these beautiful words of love and wishes for a happy future into your wedding ceremony readings or offer them as a toast to the newlyweds: 

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
- Harriet Tubman

We trust each other with the secrets of our hearts and souls.
So please Lord, bless this holy bond,
A true marriage by your will,
With your finest grace and love,
Let it last for eternity.

Make our marriage stronger each day of the journey,
Our two hearts deserve the best.
Let our spirits prosper in your care,
Guide us to be faithful and true,
Give us wisdom for whatever path you choose. 

We made a promise, a sacred vow,
But, it’s your blessing that will take us through.
In your care, we commit our lives,
Holding hands till the dawn blends us in darkness to the light.
- “The Couples' Prayer,” South African Wedding Blessing

Happy the bride and bridegroom and thrice happy are they whose love grows stronger day by day and whose union remains undissolved until the last day.
- African-American blessing

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love, 
You are soft as the nesting dove. 
Come to my heart and bring it rest 
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.
- “Invitation to Love” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, African-American poet

Love arrives 
and in its train come ecstasies 
old memories of pleasure 
ancient histories of pain. 
Yet if we are bold, 
love strikes away the chains of fear 
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity 
In the flush of love's light 
we dare be brave

And suddenly we see 
that love costs all we are 
and will ever be. 
Yet it is only love 
which sets us free.
- Excerpt from “Touched by an Angel” by Maya Angelou 

I came to the crowd seeking friends
I came to the crowd seeking love
I came to the crowd for understanding
I found you

I came to the crowd to weep
I came to the crowd to laugh
You dried my tears
You shared my happiness

I went from the crowd seeking you
I went from the crowd seeking me
I went from the crowd forever
You came, too
- "You Came, Too" by Nikki Giovanni

Your hands in my hands, Happily meet
Your eyes and my eyes, Joyously greet
Your cheek 'gainst my cheek, Passingly sweet
Your lips to my lips, Rapture complete
- "Poem #63" by Joseph S. Cotter Jr.

Once upon a time, I used to expect people to love me how I loved them. I wanted our love to mirror each other. Over the years, I've learned that how I show my love isn't always how someone else will show theirs. Loving freely, to me, comes without boundary or expectation. If you're going to love someone, do it, show it and be okay with it."
- Alex Elle, The Good Vibe

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