Yoruba traditional marriage ceremony is known as Igbeyawo in Yoruba usually takes place weeks, months before the white wedding ceremony while some families choose to hold both wedding on the same day.
In this setting, the bride’s family typically responsible for covering the ceremony but some families choose to split the costs among themselves. The Yoruba wedding is carried out in different stages which includes introduction and engagement.
The Introduction: Here, the families of the bride and groom meet long before any engagement ceremony takes place. This entails the groom in the company of his father visits the bride’s family. The occasion is an informal introduction without a big party but a cordial atmosphere to know each other. At the introduction ceremony the groom and his family are handed list of gift items and the bride’s dowry that must be presented for the wedding to hold. Some of the items demanded by the lady’s family include –
Suitcase of assorted traditional outfits
Bible/Quran – depending on the religion
1 Big Jar of Vegetable/Olive Oil
1 Large Bag of Salt
12 Tubers of Yam
12 Whole Stock Fish
2 Baskets of Assorted Fresh Fruits (edible arrangements are good)
1 Large Bottle of Honey
4 cases of 6/pack of Apple Cider
2 cases of 24/pack of Malt
8 packs of 24/pack of Assorted Soda/Pop drinks
4 packs of Assorted Cookies
8 packs of 10/pack of Capri Sun
4 packs of 24/pack bottled water
The traditional engagement: takes place where the bride’s outfit consists of gele which is the head tie, the buba (the blouse) and an iro which is a large material tied round her waist and is usually ankle length while the groom wears an agbada which is two layered material of heavy dimensions like the aso-oke (traditional hand woven material). The traditional engagement is officiated by a contracted professional called the Alaga Ijoko which means the traditional master of ceremony who could be member of the bride’s family or a complete stranger.
During the engagement, various fines are paid and formal introduction of the groom accompanied by his age mates and friends which also involves prostrating to the family of the bride to formally request their daughter’s hand in marriage. Other festivities include the letter reading which is read by a young lady from the groom’s family also asking for the hand of the bride in marriage. The bride’s family also responds with a letter of their own read by a young lady from the bride’s family.
The engagement is an integral part of the traditional marriage and as the ceremony proceeds, items listed for the engagement that was given to the groom’s family is presented to the bride’s family. The items vary slightly in each Yoruba traditional wedding but the general articles are the same. The bride is then heralded into the venue of the ceremony followed by her friends, all dressed in traditional attires like buba and iro, ankra or lace long skirt and blouse as they join her in a boisterous dance down the hall.
The bride also goes through a few protocols but money is only given to her and not taken from her as in the case of the groom. She is introduced to the groom’s family before she takes her place beside the groom. At this stage, they may consider themselves married. The wife displays some wifely traits by feeding the groom some cake and wine, even a kiss to the amusement of the guests.
Yoruba traditional marriage is seen as an occasion for family members to reunite and catch-up on current happenings. They also see find old friends and acquaintances. It is a fun filled and meticulously planned period that announces to the world the union of their loved ones.