Aug 2, 2019 @

The engaged couple sitting and flanked by bridesmaids

The happy couple at the traditional African engagement

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*

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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

The bride's Nigerian native outfit laid out on bed  blue and orange colors

African engagement tradition: The bride’s coordinated outfit that took months to prepare is laid out.

 

The warpaint being applied, bride's makeup in orange to match outfit

The warpaint being applied, you see the color coordination is insane as l don’t think anyone would wear that color on a daily basis, but the desire to stand out is strong.

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.

Final adjustments

Final adjustments to the “gele” headgear which is standard at any Nigerian wedding ceremony.

 

Tada!!! the engaged bride posing in her completed outfit of orange and blue holding hand fan

Tada!!! Final presentation of the bride to be at a traditional West African engagement celebration – this is Yoruba tribe.

 

 

 

 

 

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The future bride strikes a pose. Traditional west African engagement photo shoot.

Traditional Engagement: Written Request

The request for the hand of the bride traditional west african engagement

The written request for the hand of the bride. No Yoruba engagement goes on without this formal asking of the bride’s hand.

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The groom's family begging for their new daughter.

The groom’s family begging for their new daughter, another traditional west African engagement ritual.

 

The bride's parents accepting and getting ready to send her off to the other side (where the groom's family is)

West African tradition: The bride’s parents accepting and getting ready to send her off to the other side (where the groom’s family is).

 

The groom's parents welcoming their new daughter with some tears and a prayer

Welcoming their new daughter with some tears and a prayer..

 

traditional west african engagement - bride showing off ring

Showing off her ring to the families..

 

Nigerian bride being swept off her feet by the groom and she is laughing!

The bride being swept off her feet!

 

Guests at nigerian engagement ceremony

Guests- notice the color scheme which is standard at a traditional West African Nigerian engagement. Both sides choose their colors.

 

Time to dance at a Nigerian engagement ceremony with drummers..

Nigerian engagement ceremony. Time to dance..The talking drums are especially hypnotic, and hard not to move to.

 

A long and tiring day, but worth it.

A Yoruba engagement part is a long and tiring day, but worth it. Customary for guests to bring slippers to dance in because it’s a day long celebration.

 

drummers at engament africa

Yoruba engagement ceremony involves a lot of drummers, guitar players, singers and dancers. Lots of fun .

 

drummers at nigerian engagement

The family being serenaded at a Yoruba engagement ceremony

 

The band is ready to entertain at a yoruba engagement

The band is ready to entertain. It is not unusual for the ceremony to have both a live singer for the older crowd mostly and a DJ or second singer for the younger crowd so that both sides get to enjoy the festivities.

 

Fruit, yams, etc are gifts from the groom's side

Fruit, yams, etc are gifts from the groom’s side. These get shared at the end of the evening between families. Traditional gifts at a Yoruba engagement include local good. The wedding day will have the other “English” gift assortment.

 

Guests are told the colors to wear with their invitations.

Guests are told the colors to wear with their invitations.

 

Another example of the color scheme.. These are cousins of the bride.

Another example of the color scheme.. These are cousins of the bride.

 


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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?