My Naija Wedding Style Diaries plus 6 Things to expect from a Nigerian Wedding.
The Nigerian wedding industry is growing fast and worth millions of pounds.
Getting married in Africa’s most populous country is big business and said to be worth millions of dollars, according to market research group, TNS Global.
So are you attending a Nigerian wedding and wondering what it will be like? Well get ready for an eye catching and mind racing experience!
As Nigerians, we are known to a be a little bit “over the top”, and trust me, that is putting it very moderately. When it comes to style, fashion and tradition we seem to go the extra mile to make a statement. Bottom line, you can’t attend a Nigerian wedding and leave the same.
1. ASO EBI:
Aso-Ebi means “Family Clothes” in Yoruba, a Nigerian language. This is when family members of the couple, decide to wear identical colors and fabrics at an event to identify themselves. So at a Nigerian wedding you could differentiate the bride’s family from the groom’s family based on the colors and fabrics they’re wearing. However it is also very common to see friends of the bride show up in aso-ebi too.
Usually the bride decides what aso-ebi people will wear to her wedding and announces it months before so the guests can purchase their outfits. Some prominent guests and close family members may not have to purchase it, as the bride’s family may give them out as gifts.
As a guest new to a Nigerian Wedding, you may not know any of the songs played during the reception. The DJ might throw in a few pop songs, but you will definitely hear the likes of P-square, Flavour, Tiwa Savage, Davido etc. The good news though, Nigerian songs are pretty easy to pick up and will always almost get you on your feet.
Nigerians also love to have “group” dances where everyone participates. So don’t freak out when you see a group of people dancing to what seems to be choreographed steps like they’d practiced at home before they came. They didn’t, there are just those songs that have “their dances”, think Cha-cha Dance, Tango, Salsa etc.
A few common recent dances would be Shoki, Shaku Shaku etc. so just in case you want to learn, visit YouTube and study ahead of time. No pressure though!
3. MONEY SPRAYING:
So the dancing begins and you start seeing dollar and naira bills all over the place. Fear not! Unlike the American “Dollar Dance” spraying money is not mandatory or meant to put pressure on the guests. At Nigerian weddings, the guests spray money of their own free will to show their happiness for the couple. Many times it is the older guests that do this, like the couple’s uncles, aunties and other older family friends.
There is no particular time on the program allocated for family and friends to spray money, whenever the couple gets on the dance floor it’s almost guaranteed that the couple will be sprayed – those rich uncles, aunts and friends always like to show themselves!
Do you like spicy food? I really hope so. You see, we Nigerians are very particular when it comes to our food and this is one of the major reasons we would rather not choose wedding venues that refuse outside food – we feel only Nigerians can do the job right.
Our foods vary from swallow (food that you don’t chew, but swallow like Eba, Pounded Yam, Amala), soups (what you mix the “swallow” food with before eating) and rice (e.g Fried Rice, Jollof Rice, Coconut Rice or Plain White Rice which we eat with stew).
At most Nigerian weddings, you can also expect finger foods or what we call “small chops”, which are the closest things we have to what you know as “appetizers”. Major ones include Pepper Soup, Suya, Samosa, Puff Puff, Meat Pie and Chin Chin.
Remember to ask how spicy the food is before you fill up your plate!
5. Double Outfits:
Do not be shocked when the reception begins and you can’t find the big white wedding dress or the tuxedo. It’s all gone! In many Nigerian weddings, the couples attempt to enjoy both the “Western” culture as well as their own culture by wearing the white dress for the ceremony and traditional Nigerian attire for the reception.
Sometimes Nigerians might also opt for 2 different weddings, the traditional Nigerian wedding and the western one, which is referred to as the “White” wedding. These two celebrations could be days or even weeks apart. In the traditional Nigerian wedding, the bride only wears traditional attire, either from her tribe, her new husband’s tribe or sometimes both.
You will also probably notice a drastic change in makeup and accessories when the bride wears the traditional Nigerian attire. Because we are avid lovers of color, the makeup and accessories with the traditional attire would most likely be far from subtle, especially when the outfit is a very rich colour.
6. GUEST LIST:
Haha! Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I will be totally honest with you, the struggle to handle a guest list at a Nigerian wedding is just too real. We come in numbers, large numbers! When I was younger, I remember my mum asking any and everyone to “accompany” her to a wedding; in most cases they were not on the guest list and didn’t even know the couple.
Keeping this in mind, the wedding hosts usually prepare for what is estimated to be the “maximum possible number” in regards to favors, food, chairs and other aspects. It’s common to hear that a couple confirms a guest list of 250, but about 1000 guests were actually present.
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Nigerian weddings. Of course every wedding is different and unique in its own way, these are just a few things I have noticed from attending some.
Thanks Dr. Joy Eliogu Anenih for inviting me to one of the most recent Nigerian wedding I attended.