Nigeria is an amazing nation with over 250 ethnic groups with diverse languages, culture and traditions. Despite the diversity in our way of life, the one thing we uphold dearly, which shows our cultural richness is our wedding ceremonies. This post highlights 5 traditional Nigerian wedding customs that are popular in many Nigerian ethnic groups.
Nigerian weddings are always very festive, filled with food, dancing and vibrant colors. Nigerian traditional weddings are considered much more than the joining of two individuals. It also symbolizes the joining together of two separate families.
Due to the diversity in ethnicity, Nigerian wedding customs are usually unique to each ethnic group as well. However, there are a few customs and traditions that are common to numerous ethnic groups in the nation.
Below are 5 traditional Nigerian wedding customs that are popular in many ethnic groups in Nigeria:
1. Two ceremonies
Most Nigerian weddings usually observe two ceremonies which include an engagement/introduction ceremony and the main wedding event.
An engagement ceremony usually precedes the wedding ceremony. The engagement is where the families of both the bride and groom meet each other formally. Although, it is not unusual for the family of both bride and groom to have met before, the engagement ceremony is a formal event where they meet. This meeting usually takes place at the family home of the bride (ie where the bride’s parents reside).
Traditional Nigerian wedding ceremony
The traditional weddings are usually done in the customs and traditions of the tribes getting joined. The bride and groom are adorned in vibrant attires that boldly declare their ethnicity.
Engagement and wedding could occur in the same week. For instance, an engagement could take place on a Friday, while the wedding ceremony takes place the next day (Saturday). However in many cases, an engagement ceremony could take place weeks or even months before the wedding ceremony.
2. Dowries are usually used in Nigerian wedding customs
In Nigerian traditional wedding customs, dowry is money and/or property that is given to the parents of the bride.
It is a common custom in Nigerian weddings for the groom’s family to pay the required dowry before the wedding can commence. It is a common ritual that signifies that the groom’s family is purchasing the right for the groom to marry the bride.
The bride’s family will tender a list that shows the requirements of the dowry. The groom’s family will then take the list, and provide the bride’s family with the contents of the list. The list could contain anything the bride’s family sees fit. It could be clothes, food, livestock, or even a brand-new vehicle. The engagement will become official if the groom’s family can pay the dowry, if not, the wedding will not be allowed to proceed.
3. Money spraying is typical in traditional Nigerian wedding customs
This is a Nigerian wedding tradition that goes way back. Whenever elderly friends of the family attend a wedding, they know they are to shower the bride and groom with their wealth. Apart from the usual giving of gifts, it is a way of blessing the newlyweds with a good financial head-start in their marriage.
Money spraying can be done at any time during the wedding ceremony. However, it is usually observed when the bride and groom take to the dance floor. The bride’s maids are then given the task of aiding the couples to gather the money.
4. Cake cutting
This is a practice that is probably never missed in Nigerian weddings. The cutting of cake in Nigerian weddings is to signify sweetness and happiness in marriage. There is usually a special period allotted to the cutting of the cake. Traditionally, it is seen as the first task that the couple will carry out together.
Usually, the bride holds the knife first, and the groom places his hand on hers. This usually symbolizes that the bride is submissive to her new husband. The cutting of the cake is an old practice that cuts across perhaps all ethnic groups in Nigeria.
5. Food serving
Food is one aspect of Nigerian weddings that is never ignored. The food is traditionally provided by the bride’s family in the kitchen of the bride’s mother. The services of caterers to provide the meals is also a welcome practice. Usually, the family of the bride and groom each hire their separate caterers. Then, they exchange food with each other during the reception in order to signify their new-found connection.
Nigerian weddings are always fun to partake of. The above are just the common practices in Nigerian weddings. The diversity in ethnicity makes Nigerian weddings have traditions which are unique to the individual ethnic groups. This makes Nigerian weddings all the more fascinating and fun to learn about.