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Yoruba Traditional Marriage Rites, Bride Price List and traditional marriage list

Yoruba traditional wedding list – Traditional marriage in Yoruba culture is always an unforgettable event. In this article, you will see everything you need to know about Yoruba traditional marriage; the bride price, items, and how the event is done.

In the Southwestern part of Nigeria, traditional marriage is symbolic and an integral part of the culture so it is not held with levity. ‘Igbeyawo’ as it is called in Yoruba land literally means ‘bride carrying by the groom’. Getting married is considered an achievement amongst the Yorubas, they believe a man without a wife would not command respect likewise a woman without a husband is seen as incomplete. Hence, when a man comes to ask the hand of a woman in marriage, their friends and family are happy for them and rallies around to support them. The Yoruba wedding ceremony is usually colorful, full of life, surplus means and a joyful atmosphere. It is seen as a time of joy for the couple, their relatives and friends. The rich Yoruba culture is greatly reflected in all aspects of the ceremony. From the colorful aso-oke and agbada worn by the bride and groom to the amala and gbegiri prepared to the items presented as the eru-idana (engagement items), there is no occasion like it.

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Before the traditional wedding rites takes place, the groom and his relatives pays a visit to the bride’s family bearing gifts to declare their intent to marry the bride before the wedding day. Although this introduction is an informal occasion, the groom’s family is warmly welcomed with food and drinks, discussions are then made. Usually, the traditional wedding date is picked during the introduction and the marriage list is presented to the groom’s family.

Compare with: Traditional Marriage Rite In Ibibio Land          

Once the wedding date is picked, preparations go into full gear on both sides. If the families can afford and are interested in hiring an event planner, they do so at this point. If not, they plan for the wedding themselves. Invitations are sent out with details about the date, RSVP, colours, venue and other important information. In Yoruba land, traditional weddings are made to happen only when parents from both sides give consent to the union. Every decision concerning the wedding is made by both sides and compromises are made for the convenience of all. Aso-ebi, the uniform attire for the wedding is also picked and this could be the same for both families of it could be different. This is a major highlight of Yoruba weddings and sometimes it can be used to identify guests from each side.

Couple’s Traditional Attire

Yoruba Traditional Marriage Rites, Bride Price List and traditional marriage list

For a proper Yoruba wedding, the bride is expected the reflect the rich Yoruba culture with everything she clads herself in that day. Her outfit is incomplete with aso-oke. Aso-oke is a special fabric that connotes royalty and wealth in Yoruba land, a bride is regarded as a princess so she is expected to wear a dress preferable iro (wrapper) and buba (blouse) made completely with the fabric. However, nowadays brides prefer modern fabrics like lace, damask or velvet, aso-oke is still retained in their outfit as gele (head-tie) and ipele (piece of cloth placed over the shoulder). She is also expected to wear accessories like beads, gold costumes, anklets, earrings with matching shoes and bag.

The groom has to appear as a king so he wears an agbada, a three piece otfit that consists of sokoto (trousers), buba (male top) and the agbada (a robe-like gown) made from aso-oke, lace, cashmere or damask. This is topped with fila (cap). His outfit’s color must match the bride’s and color theme of the wedding. He also accessorizes with beads, bangles and wristwatch.

The Engagement Ceremony

On the D-day, the event is anchored by Alaga-iduro and Alaga-ijoko (Masters of Ceremony). They ensure smooth running of the event and also make it lively. The Alaga-ijoko represents the bride’s family while Alaga-iduro represents the groom’s family. At the beginning of the ceremony, the groom’s family led by their representative enters the venue and greets the bride’s relatives. Introductions are made and prayers offered to open the event. The groom also walks in majestically with the groomsmen and prostrates in obeisance first to his parents and then the bride’s. The Alagas collect money from him at different stages before he is asked to go sit at the couple’s tent.

The bride is then ushered in followed by her female relatives and friends with singing and fanfare. She goes to kneel before her parents for prayers and then to her in-laws who accepts her as their daughter. She then joins the groom where he is seated and some traditions like spraying her money, feeding each other, helping him with his cap and others are observed. This is followed by reading of the proposal letter from the groom by a young lady from the bride’s family to which a letter of acceptance is used to respond.

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The most important part of the ceremony is the point when engagement items are presented to the bride’s family.

Yoruba traditional marriage list

Generally, across the Yoruba land, the following items are requested with slight variations in quantity and items:

  • 42 yam tubers
  • A bag of rice
  • 25 liters of palm oil and vegetable oil
  • 2 bottles of honey
  • Bitter kola
  • Kolanut
  • Alligator pepper
  • A box of clothes
  • Umbrella
  • Sugarcane
  • A bag of salt
  • Basket of fruits
  • Dried fish
  • She goat or Hen
  • Bible
  • Engagement ring
  • Aadun
  • Wine
  • Soft drinks
  • Cash: Bride price (which is usually N5,000 across Yoruba land)and some supplementary cash gifts like Owo iya gbo, Owo baba gbo, Owo isigba and others.

Compare with: Traditional Marriage Process Ika-Delta State; Requirements and Formalization procedures

Asides from the fact that these items are brought as gifts, each of them is symbolic of certain blessings of marriage. For example, since alligator pepper has numerous seeds, prayers are made using it as a point of contact that the couple will also have many children. The bride price collected is also returned to the groom; the bride’s worth is far more than money so returning the bride price means she is not for sale.

After gifts are presented and idana is done, merriment starts in full force. Foods and drinks are served, the band starts playing for the new couple to have their first dance. Other guests then join them and sprays them money until the party is over.

Yoruba weddings are one of the most interesting ceremonies you could ever attend in Nigeria. So the next time, you are invited to one, try as much as possible not to miss it as it would be fun-filled and exciting.


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Bukola Shokan

Bukola Shokan is a content developer at InfoGuideNigeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria team comprises Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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