Author: Blogger, Etinosa Ogbevoen
To be Nigerian is to imagine having an over the top and beautiful wedding that is filled with tradition and glamour. Depending on where you are celebrating your wedding. Either in the United States or in the home country of Nigeria things can look a bit different but still have the same essence and majesty. It’s important to note that in Nigeria there are over 300 tribes and each of them have their own specific traditions that is unique to their tribe.
When it comes to being Nigerian respect and formalities go a long way. When two people meet and fall in love, it is up to the man to travel to his future wife’s parent’s house to ask for her hand in marriage. This meeting is crucial to the in order to get a blessing for their union. Many parents will ask questions about the background of the suitor and how he plans on taking care of their daughter. Once the two are engaged, tradition kicks in.
An introduction is set up at the home of the bride. The man brings his representatives of his immediate and extended family which usually consists of elders, such as aunts, uncles, grandparent and older siblings and cousins. The introduction is an event when both the families are able to meet and talk about the future nuptials. In the Nigerian culture people believe that you are not only marrying a person but that person’s family. The two families are able to get acquainted with each other in an informal setting but many times each family shows up looking their best to make a good first impression. Prayers are said over the union by the bride’s father and the kola nut broken and passed around for people to eat. The kola Nut is regarded as a sacred nut used to during traditional occasions.
Once the introduction is over then the real fun starts. Nigeria is known for their love of fashion. In order to help families pay for weddings each family will choose a material for a variety of people. The families of the bride and groom will choose a color to differentiate the two families. It usually goes with the colors that the bride and groom have chosen. There is also the asoebi which is a separate material that is sold to extended family and friends that is worn so that they can show solidarity towards the couple and their wedding. (If you know a lot of people getting married then you might be buying a lot of asoebi)
Many Nigerians have adopted the western world’s traditional wedding and incorporate that into their special day. Many Nigerians refer to that wedding as the “White” wedding because the bride is wearing a white dress. It is very similar and identical to the weddings that occur in the United States. This means that Nigerian wedding consist of two ceremonies, the “White” Wedding and the traditional wedding. Most people celebrate on two separate days.
During the traditional wedding, there can be some differences as far as the flow of weddings depending on the tribe. I will speak on the Benin tribe since that is where my family from. The families enter the room separately with lots of music and dancing and then are seated on opposite sides. Before the bride comes in there are 3 decoys for the groom to choose from. It is a test to know if he truly knows his bride. There are many tribes that have a bride price for the bride. For us we do not participate in a Bride price or dowry. A bride price or dowry is an amount of money that the groom pays the bride’s father in exchange for her hand in marriage. Many people see it as problematic because in the olden days women were seen as property that could be bought and sold. Another form of the dowry that some tribes ascribe to is bringing suitcases of material. Like mentioned before fashion is important to the Nigerian culture. For the Benin tribe the groom’s family offers drinks as a token of appreciation for the bride’s family giving them the blessing of her hand in marriage. During the ceremony the two families sit on two separate sides and a moderator for each family conducts the ceremony by introducing each member of the families, reciting traditional sayings and blessing the union. Once they are done the bride will leave her family and join her husband and her new family. The party begins and it is a night of love laughter and celebration.