In the Nigerian culture there is a lot more to a man and woman getting married, it is not just about the dress she wears down the aisle…in fact, in honesty that is probably the least important (well at least to the families).
When a man wants to marry his lady, he must ask permission from her parents first, of course they will say yes – if they say no…well that’s a blogpost for another day! 😉 . So once they have said yes, it is now down to the parents of the Bride to pick a wedding date, although ‘new age’ couples are bypassing that part of tradition and picking their own dates, but there are some parts of the tradition that can not just be bypassed!!! No no no!
The traditional engagement is actually more important and meaningful than the white wedding, this is because, from a bride’s parent’s point of view they have spent ‘x’ number of years grooming their daughter and now a gentleman wants to come and take her away from them. They have to be extremely sure and confident that this person is the right person for their daughter. Now it is obvious this would have been proven during their period of dating but that is the basic reason for the traditional wedding – the gentleman will come with his friends and family, baring gifts, to show exactly how capable he is to look after her.
You’re probably sitting there thinking, “this sounds like a role-play”, well it sort of is, because all the actions taken are performed in front of friends and family within a space of 2 – 3 hours, and he has obviously taken longer than 2/3 hours to build his relationship with his future wife.
The ceremony shows a sign of unity between the two families, that the bride’s family are happy with the groom and his family and trust they will look after their daughter. I said ‘they will look after’ because in Nigerian tradition when a bride’s family accepts the groom, they are actually saying “we are giving our daughter to your family” so it is the entire groom’s family that take responsibility for her – so she gains another set of parents, more siblings and cousins etc.
Prior to the engagement day, the bride’s family would have asked for a number of items for the Bride Price – this is what the groom pays to ask for the bride from her family. Now the bride’s family can almost ask for anything they want because the attitude is…”if you really want our daughter you would be prepared to pay ‘anything’ for her”, so a list is made by the bride’s family and sent to the groom to bring forth on the engagement day. Example of a Yoruba Bride Price: 360Hype Nigerian Traditional Wedding Gift List
But let’s be real, a child can not really be ‘sold’ because no parent will put a price on their child as they will say their child means more than money or anything, so this is just a polite gesture. These gifts will be displayed at the engagement ceremony for all to see.
At the ceremony both families will have a spokesperson who will represent them and ensure all the traditions are adhered to throughout the ceremony. The groom will go through a number of light hearted tests to prove he is worthy of looking after the bride, he will be prayed for by both families as a sign of their blessing.
The groom’s family will present a Letter of Proposal asking for the Bride’s hand in marriage, this will be agreed by the receiving of an Acceptance Letter from the Bride’s family (remember I said ‘role-play’ earlier on!).
Once this is done, the Bride is then invited to join the ceremony, to which she comes in covered up, she is prayed for by her parents, a way of them saying ‘goodbye’, then she goes over to her ‘new’ family and is prayed for by them and then they remove her veil as it is a sign of, we are now happy to receive their new daughter.
The spokespersons for the Bride’s family will now present all the gifts to the bride explaining this is what the grooms family have bought for her and she is to pick a gift. She will pick the religious book (Bible/Quran) and Engagement Ring. Then the groom will officially propose. And now they are engaged!! Tradition sorted!
For more information on Engagements email firstname.lastname@example.org