Popular Nigerian Traditional Marriage Rites

There are two popular weddings types in Nigeria. They include; the cultural or traditional marriage and the religious wedding. In some rare cases we see couple engage in three types, of which the third is the court wedding. However, this discussion focuses on the first type of wedding in Nigeria, which is the traditional marriage.

However, below is a presentation of 2 popular Nigeria traditional marriage rites.

1. Igbo Traditional Marriage Rites

The Igbo tradition requires the groom to officially ask his in-laws for the customary engagement list. If the brides father is alive the groom is expected to ask his father-in-law and if he is not, then the groom will ask his mother-in-law.



According to the Ndigbo traditions, the Igbo cultural marriage has 4 stages. The first is the marriage introduction and proposal stage called Iku Aka or Iju Ese. At this stage the groom and brides families meet formally to discuss their intentions. The second stage involves receiving consent from the brides extended family that is her Umunna. Here the groom ask for the bride’s hand in marriage before her extended family. The third stage is the dowry and payment of the bride price known as Ime Ego. Here, the groom presents the customary list of gift to the bride’s family. If the dowry is accepted, this implies the groom has been accepted by the bride’s family. While the last stage is the wine carrying ceremony called the Igba Nkwu Nwanyi. This is the traditional wedding reception party.

2. Yoruba Traditional Marriage Rites

The Yoruba traditional ceremony  on the other hand, is known as Igbeyawo in Yoruba. The tradition requires the bride’s family to cover the ceremony cost. However, some families choose to split the costs. The ceremony is orchestrated by two representatives chosen or hired by each family. The groom’s family is represented by Alaga Iduro/ Olopa Iduro (standing policeman), while the bride’s family is represented by the Alaga Ijoko/Olopa Ijoko (sitting policeman).

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The Yoruba traditional marriage ceremony begins with the arrival of the groom and his family. At their arrival they are welcomed by the Alaga Ijoko and some housewives from the bride’s family. They state their reason for the visit and are asked to pay an entry fee by the Alaga. Once seated, the Alaga Iduro presents a proposal letter to the Alaga Ijoko and it is read out loud by a younger female from the bride’s family. After which an acceptance letter is presented to the groom’s family.

The next stage is the engagement gifts known as Eru Iyawo. At this point, the bride is expected to select the Bible/Quran from the Eru Iyawo. This will have her engagement ring attached to it. Then, the groom’s family present the bride price and fees requested to the bride’s family.

Interestingly, the last stage is quite important. It is the cutting of the engagement cake known as Akara Oyibo. Yoruba traditional wedding always requires an engagement cake. This special cake is crafted to depict the Yoruba culture. The cake is then cut and shared between families. Then, the bride’s family formally hand over their daughter to the groom’s father, the final prayers are said and the celebrations begins.


Traditional weddings are when the couple and their families carry out the rites of the culture in which the bride originate. In essence, it involves a lot of rite, rituals, gift, settlement, traditions and others. In Nigeria, different tribe have their different cultural rite during weddings. However, the popular Nigerian traditional marriages include; the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Ibibio.

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