Jacob + Elsa | Eritrean Wedding

Jacob and Elsa had an American/jewish wedding followed by a “Melsi”, which is a Eritrean Wedding.

See their American/jewish wedding (and film) HERE and their downtown Grand Rapids engagement session HERE.

Unfortunately I could not shoot this due to being a vendor at the Grand Rapids Beer hop Bridal Show that day . So HUGE thanks to Sandra Floering for covering this for me! (Edits by me).

I’ve included little bits about the wedding and culture from the bride throughout (thanks Elsa for explaining this all to me!):


“The cultural wedding is called a Melsi which is typically a 2-3 day affair in Eritrea. We decided to do a 2 day wedding to honor both the American/Jewish side and the Eritrean side of our families!”


“The Eritrean side is very community based where not only the Bride and Groom are celebrated, but also the family. The palm branches and flowers are indicative of the community blessing us and welcoming us as husband and wife. The singer was playing a traditional instrument called a Kirar (krar) which is kinda similar to a guitar.”

” Throughout the night there is a ton of dancing and blessings given to the bride and groom and their parents as well. The family members that have passed away are mentioned in the songs well. There was bit of a reggae/bob marley mixed in because of the cultural ties between reggae/rastafarianism and Ethiopia/Eritrea.”


“The attire that we wore (black and gold capes/crowns) are typical for a bride and groom to wear. I think it’s supposed to symbolize royalty.  Henna is also traditional for the bride as well as her female family members-if they want to. The bride will usually have the most intricate designs on her hands and feet (though I just had it on my hands) while the family members have more simple designs.”

“The coffee Ceremony is huge too! Coffee is a staple in Eritrea and Ethiopia. It’s a HUGE part of the culture so they include it in the wedding. It symbolizes the gathering of close friends and family. So the bride will serve coffee to her husband and her bridesmaids and the groomsmen. The little coffee cups are called a ‘finjal’ and the coffee ‘pot’ is made out of clay, which is called ‘jebena’.”

Thanks so much for letting us be a part of both days! And Congratulations again!

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