A traditional West African engagement post that l have been meaning to put this up for a while :-). As usual, life got in the way. These images are from a typical engagement party, an all day affair. This one is a Nigerian one, but l understand that most countries in West Africa do the same thing.
Unlike your western wedding, the traditional engagement/wedding is usually done in one weekend. The reason being one of convenience. Most relatives would be most likely scattered all over the world. This allows them to enjoy both occasions with just one plane ticket!. It does get pretty pricey :-)
Traditional West African Engagement:
When the bride is proposed to, there is usually an informal get together, where the families meet and greet. Then the preparation starts. The color theme is chosen, bands, venues etc. a year or so before the actual event. *Affiliate links in post*
Usually, the engagement is on Saturday, and the wedding the next day. Guests range in size from 400-1500, sometimes more.. we’re not the most populous place in Africa for nothing ;0)) . It is also common for uninvited guests to show up. There are a lot of poor people and they will show up to eat, most weddings will take this into account and plan accordingly.
You often see people stuffing their bags with food to bring home. The only thing they are usually stingy with is alcohol. This of course could be a good/bad thing for the bride’s family. It costs a lot, but on the other hand, you rarely get toasters and such. It’s straight up cash! It is not unusual to get back just about every cent you put into the wedding, usually more. Here are some images captured on their special day.
Nigerian Engagement: The Traditional Preparation
Traditional Nigerian Headgear:
This is called “gele” in Yoruba which is my language. To tie it correctly takes a lot of patience and lots of practice. I have sisters and family who can not do it correctly despite wearing it for years. The material used for the gele is extremely strong, damask or really soft, like lace and must be moulded to the head so it does not shift or drop off. It is really tight and has been known to give headaches to occasional wearers like me. Notice the many, many layers on this gele, and it must look just right and last for hours.
Traditional Engagement: Written Request
Grab these “thank you” stickers here
As you can imagine, the wedding business is quite big in Nigeria and other African countries. For the most part, divorce is not an option, therefore people really make every effort to make sure they find the right person. While other cultures may consider it intrusive, it is not unusual for the parents to be involved as far as doing due diligence about the family their child is marrying into.
One thing that l love about the color scheme is that it is easy to identify which side (groom or bride) you belong to. No need to ask when they enter the church for instance, just go for the color. There are also many subgroups with their own colors. For instance, the bride’s college friends would all wear the same colors etc. Definitely a sensory overload, but so much fun.
A Nigerian traditional engagement is an all day affair, lasting 12 hours or more. It is so much fun and if you ever get a chance to attend one, you definitely should.
You can find the wedding day images on this post.
What do you think of this traditional West African engagement? Would you like to attend this? or is it just too much for you?