Learn About These Unique Traditions from Samoan Weddings

Introduction

While many rituals, rites, and customs have been lost over time in every nation, weddings are a special occasion in which most individuals decide to keep some component of tradition. 

Every aspect of a wedding ceremony, including the bride and groom’s meeting at the altar, the traditional white wedding dress, and the bouquet-tossing, has its origins in tradition. In Samoan society, where religion is still a big part of family culture and upbringing, wedding traditions and rituals are immensely important. If you’re not familiar, Samoa is one of our stunning Pacific islands. The people are exceedingly warm and welcoming, making Samoa and/or American Samoa perfect vacation spots.

The Samoan culture is centered on friendship and family, and there aren’t many celebrations that can match a wedding for bringing everyone together. For this reason, getting married in Samoa is a very significant thing!

Samoa is a collection of islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that is situated in the center of Polynesia. After more than a century of foreign influence, Samoa obtained independence from New Zealand in 1962 and was formerly known as Western Samoa until 1997. The Samoan way of life (fa’a Samoa), despite some elements of the traditional culture have changed as a result of interactions with the West, is still very much alive and well today. The Pacific Islands and the rest of the globe continue to embrace contemporary Samoan music, dance, and visual arts. Samoans in the modern world are frequently affable, courteous, and patriotic.

Samoan Engagements

Samoan cultures place a high value on social standing, therefore even though couples may choose their own romantic partners, they must be on the same social level in order for their families to approve the union. Once authorized, gifts will be distributed between the families to symbolize their equality, respect, and unity. This approval is extremely necessary. Since the pair is typically only together in the presence of other family members, the entire dating process is much more like old “courting” rituals until the time of the actual wedding.

Because a Samoan wedding has a true “go large” component and can be very expensive, the costs are typically split between both families because Samoan families appreciate the importance of having everyone around to link both of the families as much as to see their offspring united in marriage!

Samoan Wedding Ceremonies

A variety of Christian, Mormon, or Baha’i interpretations are often represented in the majority of religious marriages. As a result, the wedding can be held either outdoors or in the appropriate local church or chapel. It will typically consist of a short ceremony lasting no more than an hour.

The reception always comes right after the wedding, according to tradition. The bride’s family often hosts this, but most receptions are held outside due to the large number of guests that can attend these celebrations.

There are various unusual customs that are at play with the eating, but having a sizable feast served by both families is an important aspect of honoring this new full family togetherness.

After everyone has come and been seated according to status, the bride greets each guest with a traditional dance before they can begin to dine.

Traditionally, older children from both families who are serving the guests. If the wedding is a large community event, they feed the guests in order of their social standing in respect to their families and the community!

There is typically way too much food because the emphasis is on “plenty” as a sign of generosity and social position. It is absolutely expected that visitors will bring their own kids, not to participate in the meal, but to bring baskets that the kids can fill with food and take home to eat later.

The wedding cake serves as the focal point of a traditional Samoan wedding feast. The Samoan wedding cake has several levels, exactly like the American and European versions, but it does so not only vertically but also horizontally across the table! In accordance with tradition, the wedding cake will be cut and served to guests in order of social position. These layers that extend outward are preserved entire and served to distinguished visitors (often members of the local social elite).

Samoan Wedding Party

The cake is served following the main meal, but the best man is obligated to address the assembled guests first. He usually ends his remarks by wishing the couple well.

The Samoan tradition is for the new couple (and their families) to give gifts to their guests as part of the reception (typically after the feasting), as opposed to the subtle envelopes of wedding gift giving that are common in other cultures, such as Chinese and Japanese weddings, to help offset the costs of the wedding. 

The typical norm is that the presents are related to the recipient’s social standing and assist the newlyweds in establishing their own new family’s place in the neighborhood. The variety of these gifts is one of the reasons that makes a Samoan wedding so expensive for the families involved, and it’s not uncommon for them to ask everyone in the family, even distant relatives, to contribute by making a donation towards the costs of these celebrations!

Following the meal with some gift-giving allows the visitors to take a little “digestion” break before the festivities really get going with traditional Samoan music, dancing, and celebrations. It is customary for the party to proceed smoothly.

Samoan Wedding Clothes

The Samoans have a very unique tradition regarding the bride’s wedding gown, which is deeply entrenched in both sides of the family’s desire to be present at this significant moment in the bride’s life and their desire for her to appear absolutely stunning! In Samoa, the bride is expected to wear two wedding outfits—one for the ceremony and the other for the reception.

Therefore, according to custom, she will get a variety of daytime outfits as a gift from the families on both sides. Of course, a diplomatic bride will select one dress from each side of the family, one for each segment of the day!

The actual ceremony attire is probably a white wedding gown and veil because most weddings are variations of a traditional Christian wedding ceremony. After the ceremony, the bride will genuinely change out of her outfit so she can wear her second dress to the reception.

Unique Traditions from Samoan Weddings

Samoan culture places a high value on community, family, and friends, so a Samoan wedding is typically a grand event that unites two families and has a pricey guest list.

Whether you’ve been to Samoa or not, it’s a stunning location, and regardless of where you’re from, it’s really intriguing to highlight the distinctive Samoan wedding traditions and contrast them with your own cultural traditions.

The trouble is, it’s traditional for the bride to be a virgin before her marriage, therefore of course the wedding night activities are considered as the ultimate test of this. However, it may still exist in more distant village areas. The bed would be covered in immaculate white linens after the couple retires to bed.

The bride must be a virgin before her marriage according to tradition, thus of course the wedding night activities are viewed as the ultimate proof of this. However, it may still exist in more isolated village groups. The bed would be wrapped in spotless white linens when the couple finally goes to sleep.

If you are getting married in Samoa but are unsure of the customs there, it might be wise to do some research. Samoan culture views neglecting to treat the proper guests and reflecting Hawaiian rather than Samoan customs as rather insulting, thus you must respect the correct visitors and avoid mixing Samoan and Hawaiian traditions.

It’s important to be informed that if a non-Samoan man marries into a Samoan family, he is responsible for supporting the entire family, even if this involves taking the entire family and his new bride back to his country of origin.

The Union Must be Approved by Both Families

As a result, before a wedding can be organized, engagements must receive both families’ approval. The families then share various gifts as a sign of their newfound unity and the subsequent merger of the families after this approval has taken place. Couples are required to choose their mate based on their shared social status in the neighborhood; otherwise, they run the risk of upsetting their families, which is something that should be avoided.

The bride’s family house is typically where receptions are held, and many wedding crashers attend.

But because Samoan weddings are typically so enormous, the reception must be conducted outside because the guests rarely fit inside. All visitors are given a substantial feast, typically with incredibly generous serving sizes. The emphasis is on kindness. Visitors frequently come their entire family and ask the kids to fill up baskets with food to take home with them. The kids are typically asked to take the baskets home before they have a chance to eat anything. 

The bride’s family house is typically where receptions are held, and many wedding crashers attend.

Guests are Seated According to Social Rank

According to their standing, guests are placed at the tables. They are served by members of both families, typically the couple’s eldest siblings, in the order that they are seated. Families and communities prioritize feeding and serving the most important members first. Of course, this wouldn’t happen if the wedding was more of a modern affair and the reception was held at a reception hall.

Extravagant Favors for Weddings

After the feast, it is customary for Samoan couples to give their guests gifts depending on their social rank rather than receiving gifts and cash envelopes from them. Samoan weddings are expensive in part because the couple is expected to lavishly shower their numerous guests with gifts. This is supposed to enable the newlyweds in establishing themselves as a new family in their neighborhood! It’s typical for the couple to request assistance from all of their family members in order to cover this significant investment. 

Huge Wedding Cake

In Samoa, wedding reception centerpieces and focal points are typically wedding cakes. The cake is a substantial size. To serve the numerous invited guests—as well as those who just chose to show up and join the party—they are typically tiered both vertically and horizontally across the table. The highest social status individuals receive the leftover cake; the officiant, for instance, might anticipate receiving an entire tier. Additionally, leftovers are always available for this use rather than having everything consumed at the reception. Check out the incredibly ornate cake below for an illustration of a sizable cake that is typical in Samoa.

Gifted Bridal Gowns

In Samoa, brides typically don two gowns—one for the ceremony and another for the reception. Usually, her family or her partner’s family provides these two dresses. She usually has a few options to choose from on either side and can pick the two she prefers. The typical ceremony attire is a white gown with accouterments. 

Many Bridesmaids

In Samoan culture, having a large group of bridesmaids—whether it be 10 or 20—is nothing out of the ordinary. They anticipate having their sisters, relatives, friends, and more in the bride’s squad. The groom typically wears a coordinating ensemble, and his men typically don traditional Samoan ie-faitaga.

The Traditional Wedding Dance

The celebration starts right away after the wedding. The bride performs a Taualuga, a traditional Samoan dance, for the guests after changing into her second wedding dress. All girls in Samoan culture are taught how to execute this dance at an early age and are required to do it during their wedding. The food may be served to the guests following this dance.

Non-Samoan Men

Any non-Samoan man who marries a Samoan family is obliged to support the entire family in the wedding, according to Samoan customs. This might entail transporting EVERYONE of them to his nation of origin!

Partying

Samoan wedding receptions frequently last well into the night. After the meal, the company starts dancing, and there is entertainment all night long! It’s not unusual for the festivities to go on for a few days.

Conclusion

A Samoan wedding is a lavish affair with over a hundred attendees. Both the bride’s and the groom’s family participate in the wedding festivities. The wedding had cultural touches because the bride is Samoan. During the reception, traditional Samoan dances were performed, and the bride’s family served delicacies to celebrate her ethnicity.

Even though the Samoan wedding ceremony is a multifaceted cultural event, its traditions are distinctive and fascinating.

Samoan wedding ceremonies feature dance performances, which are typically given by paid dancers or members of the family. 

Samoan families respect their relationships, thus they typically split the cost of a wedding. Although this can be pricey, if you have the resources and the want to go, the ceremony is definitely worth it. It is typically a religious service that takes place at a nearby church, in a park, or even outside. 

And the ceremony is a lovely occasion, as with any Samoan wedding. One of the most romantic honeymoon destinations on earth is a Samoan wedding. You will have the chance to stay in an opulent villa, do romantic tropical dives, and spend time at a private beach. 

There are countless options for a Samoan wedding. It’s a wonderful approach to start off your relationship and build passion. A romantic Samoan wedding is also a surefire winner!