• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo


5 steps to an elaborate traditional Yoruba wedding

5 steps to an elaborate traditional Yoruba wedding

Nigerian traditional weddings are awesome! They have great food, fun, energy, and beautiful colours. We are thrilled to share the traditional customs of the Yorubas in this episode of our wedding series.

The Yoruba people are one of the three largest tribes in Nigeria, and they have a vibrant and diverse culture. They occupy mostly the southwest of the country. The way they conduct their marriages is one way this culture is exhibited. In Yorubaland, engagements (Igbeyawo) are a big deal.

Igbeyawo is a special ceremony to mark when a couple officially marries. There are two speakers or representatives (usually hired), one for each family. The bride’s family speaker is Alaga Ijoko (the sitting MC), and the groom’s is Alaga Iduro (the standing MC). Before the engagement, the families meet at an “introduction” ceremony. This is where the families get to know each other and set a date for the wedding.

Here is how the Yoruba traditional wedding (Igbeyawo) goes down:

The Grooms’ family entry

The groom’s family makes a big entrance with music and dancing, led by his parents and elders. Someone from the bride’s side, Alaja Ijoko, meets them and asks why they’re there. The family explains that they want to marry the bride and pay a small fee to enter.

Everyone introduces themselves, and then a representative from the bride’s family (mostly females, either a sister or cousin) reads a letter about the proposal. If approved, they give the groom’s family a letter saying yes. The audience then prays for them.

The Grooms’ entry

The groom dances inside with his friends. He makes four prostrations after he enters with a few of his friends, in front of his in-laws. He makes his four rounds of prostrations—twice with his friends and once alone, in front of his new in-laws. Both families extend their arms in prayer for him while he’s prostrating. Finally, he makes his last prostration before his relatives and sits down.

The bride’s entry

The bride, covered in a veil, enters with her bridesmaids or friends. It’s tradition for her to dance and show her happiness. She kneels first before her parents who bless her, then proceeds to kneel before the groom’s parents who do the same. After the unveiling of her face by her in-laws, she joins her soon-to-be husband, kneels again, and they are both blessed. The groom then gives her money, lifts her for everyone to see, and she places his cap on his head. This cap-placing signifies she accepts his proposal.

Choosing out of the engagement gifts

After the pair has taken a seat, the Alaga Ijoko asks the bride to choose one out of the several engagement presents (Eru iyawo) that the groom’s family has brought.

Many objects that were specifically requested by the bride’s family are typically included in the Eru Iyawo, and each piece has a special meaning.

It is expected of the bride to choose the Bible or Qur’an, depending on her religion, from the Eru Iyawo. This has her engagement ring in it. She presents her choice to her spouse with pride and gives him the engagement ring. He puts the ring on her finger so that she may proudly show off to everyone. Additionally, the bride price (dowry) and other fees demanded from the groom’s family are presented to their new wife’s family.

Cutting of the cake

Without the engagement cake, a Yoruba traditional wedding would not be complete. Although each person’s tastes are different, the cake design typically aims to capture aspects of the Yoruba culture, such as the talking drum, calabash, and a couple wearing traditional attire. One of the most significant parts of the wedding is when the bride and groom share and cut the cake.

Following the cake cutting, the bride’s family formally gives their daughter to the father of the groom in front of all of the guests.

Ultimately, before the last prayers are said and the festivities start (feasting and merry-making), the groom’s family emerges as a group to express their gratitude to their in-laws for giving up their daughter.