Weddings in Botswana are celebrated across several events, over many days and places. Key rituals may include patlo, the secret, gender-segregated advice-giving ceremony; the presentation of bridewealth, from the groom’s family to the family of the bride; a mass ceremony at the District Administrator’s office, which conveys recognition under common law; a church service; a feast at the ride’s place, and another at the groom’s. But no single ritual is necessary or sufficient to convey married status by itself. Many are put off while the couple raises funds, so that marriages frequently remain incomplete. Which rituals will be observed, and when, is a subject of extensive negotiation between spouses and their families.
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