Nic MacKay during his marriage to Dawn Mlotshwa in Avoca. Picture: Emily Wilson

A Young Australian got a taste of Zulu tradition when he decided to marry his love of three years in a traditional ceremony in Durban at the weekend.

The groom, Australian-born Nic MacKay, could not think of a better way to wed his bride, Dawn Mlotshwa, of Avoca.

MacKay arrived at Mlotshwa’s home with his mother and two friends clad in traditional gear with a goat, sheep and the bride’s family gifts in tow.

He paid an undisclosed amount of lobola for his bride and this was combined with the exchanging-of-gifts ceremony.

A priest was present to take the two through their marriage vows although they did not sign the marriage register, to “be authentic to the traditional aspect of things”.

The two families felt it important to honour and recognise both cultures before the white wedding took place.

This is why MacKay even slaughtered the goat himself as the mkhwenyana (husband).

“It was a little bit intimidating,” he admitted, “but I knew how important it was to Dawn. I tried to go the whole way as much as I could.

“It was also important for my family to understand who Dawn is and where she comes from,” he said.

The two first met in 2005 when MacKay, founder of Oaktree, a non-profit organisation, came to do some work in South Africa.

However, the pair admitted that there were no romantic sparks between them until MacKay came back to South Africa in 2007.

Mlotshwa said: “The first time we met it was purely platonic. Nic was left behind by his team because his flight would only be leaving the next day. So a couple of friends and I took him out. He sat by himself and did not talk much and I thought he was such a jerk.”

What she didn’t know was that MacKay was nursing a “broken heart after being dumped by his girlfriend” in America before he arrived in South Africa.

Mlotshwa said through their civil society work she would get a lot of e-mails with his name on them and in 2007 he sent an e-mail saying he wanted to start up another non-profit organisation which would use music to reach the youth.

“At the time I was in the music industry and we got together and started a non-profit organisation called Key Change Music Project.”

The two spent the greater part of 2008 doing work through their organisation working with the likes of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and some musicians in South Africa.

The same year MacKay’s family came to South Africa for the first time to meet Mlotshwa.

She said: “I was anxious to meet them just like anyone would be to meet their partner’s parents, but that’s all it was. It was never about race for any of the families.

“It was more about the different cultures rather than about colour but we have managed to work through that and we are still learning.”

The couple plan to leave for Australia on Thursday to prepare for their white wedding, which is set to take place in Melbourne on February 20.