Yoruba Traditional Wedding: Requirements to Get You Prepared

Every tribe in Nigeria has special customs and traditions when it comes to the traditional wedding. In the case of Yoruba traditional wedding, a lot of cultural things are added to make the ceremony interesting in its local and unique way; this is why it is believed that the Yoruba people are the real owanbe people.

Unfortunately, the preparations for a Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony could be quite tasking on the young couple (and even the elders in the family). This is the time when most people get to learn about old family traditions and requirements they never knew existed.

In whichever way, below are the requirements that can’t be ignored in most Yoruba traditional weddings.

Yoruba traditional wedding
Photo: Finesse Studios NG

Requirement for Yoruba Traditional Wedding

  • The list: there is always a list given to the groom and his family, and in some instances, this is negotiated. The list is unique to each family and may be altered according to the wishes of the bride but it is hardly ever her decision to make.
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In traditional Yoruba wedding ceremonies, the bride’s father or the eldest male in the family is usually the proponent of the list. The list most often consists of loads of food items and a few expensive boxes and other gift items.

The relevance of these gift items is to represent how much the bride means to her family and how far the groom is willing to go in order to get her to be his wife. The bride price demanded in most parts of Yoruba land is usually returned to the groom’s family as a sign that the bride’s family does not see it fit to sell their child, but putting her in the care of another family, while still remaining relevant in her life.

  • The letter: the letter, a proposal letter, is often read by a younger sibling to the couple (by the bride’s younger sister or closest younger female relative). The groom’s younger brother might be called on to read the letter to signify that the proposal has been accepted, but this is rarely done. These letters are pre-designed and available for sale at wedding shops.
  • The Alagas: these are the two, often over-the-top women, who act as MCs and anchor the entire ceremony. These people are well versed in the processes and traditions that govern the entirety of Yoruba traditional wedding ceremonies. They come in pairs, the Alaga iduro for the groom and the Alaga ijoko for the bride.
  • The traditional wedding attires: this is one very important and fun aspect of Yoruba traditional weddings. The couple would have a pre-selected colour that goes with their wedding colours.
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They then select rolls of aso-oke in this colour from which the groom sews his Agbada and Fila, and the bride gets her gele, ipele, and iro. The aso-oke can be beaded, stoned or decorated with lace cut-outs sewn into it. The bride’s buba (top) is often made of lace or some good quality cotton.

The groom also sews his Buba and Sokoto from a different softer cotton material, with a colour that rhymes with that of the bride’s lace. The bride also needs a veil which covers her up when she enters the arena. She is then unveiled by the groom.

  • Food: due to western influences and the trend of urbanization, rice and soft drinks are now mainstream in Yoruba traditional weddings. Ordinarily, food like Iyan (pounded yam) and efo-riri, amala with ewedu would be served with fresh palm wine possibly provided by the groom’s family.
  • Miscellaneous: do not forget the mats to be laid down for the groom and his friends to prostrate on.
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