The Yoruba Traditional Wedding and Engagement


So, your knight in shining armor has proposed and you, the pristine princess, has said yes. That part of the euphoria is over and it’s time to start the most important part of your journey together – PLANNING. Depending on what part of the country you come from (would have said the world but if you are not Nigerian, at this point, ignore this part of the planning and go with your fiancé’s flow), the planning process will differ. Part 1 will be advising our beautiful Yoruba damsels on the “what”, the “How” and the “why” of the Yoruba traditional engagement ceremony. Follow this checklist and you are sure to be on track and ready for your big day.

Venue… finding the right venue always proves to be a daunting task that only the strong and calculating can successfully accomplish. I would always advise to go for a venue with adequate shelter, preferably a hall, or a marquee. There’s nothing more horrible than a bride melting away in the heat or being washed clean under the rain. This goes for your guests too.

Décor… This should normally be decided after you have picked a color theme for your wedding. If you have an event planner or just the decorator, then you need to sit with them and convey your vision, what you see in your mind’s eye to them. They, being experts would be able to conform and transform (if need be) your ideas to make your venue look lovely. There is also need to get two “engagement chairs for you and your groom.

Aso-Ebi… This communal dress code features in most Yoruba traditional engagements and should be decided amongst families. The bride could pick a separate fabric or color for her friends if she wishes.

Alaga Ijoko… This in plain English means the Master of Ceremony. She (or, in very rare occasions, he) is called the Alaga Ijoko (Seating MC) because she represents the bride’s family which the groom’s family have to come and meet, and starts the first part of the ceremony. She introduces the brides and groom’s parents, co-ordinates the letter reading, introduces the groom to the bride’s family and makes the groom and his friends beg for their daughters hand by prostrating in front of the bride’s family. She ends with ushering in the bride.  The Second MC, usually called the Alaga Iduro (Standing MC, as she represents the groom’s family who is coming to beg for the wife) takes over the second part and this time introduces the bride to the groom’s family and takes her to them for acceptance. She co-ordinates the payment of the bride price (which is usually returned to the groom’s family because according to the bride’s family, they are not selling a wife, they are giving a daughter). She also accepts the items brought by the groom’s family to the bride’s family. They are usually dressed in the same Aso Ebi as the side of the family they are representing.

Engagement List…  this is a list of items that the bride’s family requires the groom’s family to bring to the ceremony. Failure to bring every item on the list attracts a fine or a penalty. Below are some basic items. This is not an exhaustive list.   

Typical Yoruba Traditional List for the Groom
Engagement Bible Owo Isigba(fee to open the gifts on this list (usually packaged))- ₦ 500
Engagement Ring Dowry - ₦ 5,000
One Big Suitcase Owo Omo Ile Okunrin(Money for all male children) - ₦ 500
2 Different Pairs of Shoes and Bags Owo Omo Ile Obinrin(money for all female children) - ₦ 500
2 Head Gears (of high quality) Iyawo Ile - (money for all wives in the family) ₦ 500
Gold Wrist Watch Owo Iya Gbo(money for bride’s mother’s consent) - ₦ 1,000
1 Traditional Cloth (Aso- Oke) Owo Ijoko Agba (money for all the elders in he family) - ₦ 1,000
4 Other Assorted Clothes Owo Ijoko Iyawo(Money to bring in bride) - ₦ 1,000
42 pcs Obi (Kola nut) Owo Isiju Iyawo(money to unveil the bride) - ₦ 1, 000
42 pcs Orogbo(Bitter kola) Owo Ikanlekun (Entrance fee) - ₦ 500
42 pcs Atare (Alligator pepper) Owo Baba Gbo (money for bride’s father’s consent) - ₦ 500
1 Decanter of Pure Honey Owo Phone(money for phone calls) - ₦ 500
1 Big Dish of Aadun(peppered Corn meal) Owo Plane (money for travel to groom’s family house)- ₦ 500
1 Big Dish of Sugar Reading of Letter - ₦ 500
42 pcs Big Eja Osan (Dry fish) Owo Alaga Ijoko(money for MC) - ₦ 500
1 Big Dish of Salt 4 Cartons of Five Alive
42 Tubers of Big Yam 4 Crates of Can Drinks
1 Roll of Sugar 6 Bottles of Wine
1 Big Bag of Salt 2 Crates of Can Malt
Umbrella 1 Empty Decanter

WHAT does the bride bring to the engagement you ask? Well, it’s her lucky day so she just comes looking pretty!


Engagement Cake…This should usually be decided on by the couple.
Response to Letter of Proposal…The groom’s family has to come with a formal written proposal to the bride’s family officially indicating their son’s interest in their daughter. This is usually read by one of the groom’s siblings. Likewise, the bride’s family must have a formal written response to the proposal and should normally be read by any of the bride’s siblings.

Photography and Videography…capturing the moments is very important and sometimes easily overlooked. Ensure that you arrange for a full photo and video coverage of the event as you the bride will be kept waiting in a separate place for the first half of the ceremony so you do not want to miss seeing your groom and his family all lie flat on their faces just begging for your hand.

Your Outfit…. This usually ranges from the complete Aso oke to Lace, Damask e.t.c. Don’t forget to get a veil because the bride’s face should be covered when she is brought in. Whatever your choice, ensure that you get them ready way before the dates.

Now, for all the married Yoruba ladies who have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ from Ilesa, Ijebu, Gbogan, Iyanfoworogi e.t.c, please share your experience with us and let us know how ceremonies differ within the Yoruba states, and contribute to what has been left out.

Watch out for the next part featuring Igbo Traditional weddings.

Contributed by Busola Tejumola


by Anyim blessing added almost 5 years ago

If i say 'i like dis,'its an understatement,i luv it.pls i can't wait 2 c d igbo version

by John Ugbe added almost 5 years ago

This list is really long O! we even have to buy a big suitcase???

by Kunle Oyetola added almost 5 years ago

Great article. But we guys dey try o! see as the list long from here to Toronto! hope the list can be negotiated o! there is Global E.......mic Melt D....n.

by Adetolu Adeniran added almost 5 years ago

There is no negotiation at all. lol

by Mo gbo mo ya added almost 5 years ago

Guys if you say this list is long then wait for the igbo verson. Its long and expensive and leave you thinking you re buying the bride.

by Joy Joy added almost 5 years ago read letter again you'll pay...eiwo, abeigo*

by Aisha added almost 5 years ago

lol. I really love this. please lets not stick to wazobia alone. I think if you can contribute from other tribes also that'll be great. Great work.

by Enitan added almost 5 years ago

you guys are really great.u'v saved some bride to be who doesnt know how to begin the steps.tanks.xpecting more from you guys.

by Olabode Harry added almost 5 years ago


by olukayode Ajibolade added almost 5 years ago

that is a long list no doubt, then the ladies will complain when the guys go out all day to make a living. it scares me to death this marraige thing.

by Komolafe Abimbola added almost 5 years ago

keep d good work rolling,its really nice.kudos

by Oyin Ogunkoya added almost 5 years ago

This is article is amazing. Very well written, and I like all the explanations in brackets as well. I feel so much wiser about how things are done now. U've just saved me a lot of clueless moments ahead.
More grease to ur elbows.

by Voice of Reason added almost 5 years ago

Love this article, really explanatory..well written!!

by Mojisola added almost 5 years ago

...WELL DONE!! ...WELL SAID... Yoruba tradition & culture ROCKS járè

by guvnortaiwo added almost 5 years ago

lovely piece, am entrailed about this,it now put's my mind at rest that i wont spend much, una be the bomb. ride on

by Osilaja Reuben added almost 5 years ago

This is so lovely. With this information i have strong confidence to proceed with my engagemet plan.
I got marrid in UK but want to go to Naija for my engagement soon.

Thank you for the info.

by Oluchi Marc added almost 5 years ago

Well done...well written. I used to think there's no list at all.

by Richard Micheal added almost 5 years ago

Oboy if d list long reach toronto were igbo own go reach. Oboy i dey go marry yoruba girl.

by victoria Bamisile added almost 5 years ago

thank u for this list much appreciated

by SweetBim added almost 5 years ago

Hi Busola, thanks a lot for the piece.
Quite informative for me as i didn't know as much.

by Abiola yetunde added almost 5 years ago

A very very long list indeed wont dis scare guyz wt little money dt want to get married.Gud piece though

by Bimbo added almost 5 years ago

he should start saving on
if he cant afford this, he's probably not ready to get married!

by Janet Ojewumi added almost 5 years ago

@Bimbo. you ar very correct.

by Folake Deborah Aiyegbusi added almost 5 years ago

this whole thing is very interesting. keep the fire burning

by GIDIGBIH OLUYEMISI MONSURAT added almost 5 years ago

nice one. Bravo

by adetola adeniyi added almost 5 years ago

This is such a resourceful and useful list.

by Tolu Duro added over 4 years ago

What da what? GOLD WRIST WATCH! I dont even use that. Can't she bring her headgear, shoes, assorted clothes? Do I need to buy those? lol!
I've been away for like 3.5 yrs and hoping to come get my wife by august. She refered me to this website. I guess she can't give me this endless list by mouth, maybe she's scared lol!.
We are struggling with venue, so the wedding is likely gonna be on a thursday. The list ain't that bad though.
How expensive can the engagement ring be,when I have plans to get it changed as soon as she joins me in the US?

by meeboni added over 4 years ago

Hi Tolu, if you are going to change your ring, why not just pick one from any store in the US and you can change to something nice later on. Try JC Penny stores, am sure the jewelery section would have something you can use.
i know at Argos you can get as low as 50pounds. Just pick something over there so you don't incur unnecessary cost when you get here.
Also it doesn't have to be a Gold wrist watch, any lovely wristwatch would do. They usually don't open the box to check the contents. Am an Ijebu lady and i included some of my things in the box for my hubby to make the whole box heavy. Its just understanding between you and your bride to be and am sure she doesn't want you to overstretch yourself beyond your means. She knows you still have to provide for her after the wedding. Congrats in advance.

by AKINWALE ROLAND added over 4 years ago

This is good as far as yoruba culture is concerned. But Ibi wan kill us. Me I'm scared o cos im dating an Ibo girl and planing to settle down with her. wetin I go do now? Pls GOD help ME o.

by Omolabake added almost 4 years ago

Hello Busola, thanks for this great articule infact you really relief me of the impression i had before.Recently my mom just gave my husband family the engagement list and i was like what she wrote is too much but she insisted that what they demanded is the standard list. But now i know.Thank you very much.

by Fawziya Bolaji added almost 4 years ago

hmmm lovely i cnt wait for my prince charmimng to come ask for my hand in marriage,wt what hv bin reading here

by Fade added over 3 years ago

Love ur article,i thk u 4gt 2 include that that the bride's family also package sm gift 4 d groom 4 appreciation.i dnt thk the list is long compare 2sm tribe where u have 2 pay 2tru ur nose.

by Oluwaseun added over 3 years ago

na my wedding... u guys rocks... ur articles are soo soo interesting. kudos to you... am soo looking forward to my engagement ooo.

by Claramae Green added over 3 years ago

This article really helped me and I appreciate the posting of it. I am an American getting married to a Nigerian, I am learning so much about the Yoruba Culture and Knowing that me nor anyone in my family has nothing to worry about truely puts more peace in my heart. God bless you and may your business prosper.

With Love,
Claramae Green {Adepitan)

by ola O added almost 3 years ago

That list was an eye opener. I`m American, marrying a Yoruba man, and now I know why he seems so happy about the wedding! I told him the only thing I wanted was him in a nice suit. Maybe I should make some demands....

by IB added almost 3 years ago

lol @ ola O's comment! gurl you know you should make some more demands! knock yourself out! teheehee

by yemi added almost 3 years ago

my weddin is cumin up soon,d colour of our attire will be-cream,wine and gold,will d guests wear d same colour or should i pik anoda colour for dem nd if i am to pik wat shld i pik for d guests,pls i nid ur opinions,fnx.

by masego taka added almost 3 years ago

hi evryone im a Motswana, in our culture we have different tribes but we dnt pay that much lobola is from P8,000.00 to P20,000.00

by deji added almost 3 years ago

@yemi its alwaz beta for d couple to wear a different colour it makes u stand out. If u wear same colour as everyone it makes u blend in n since d couple owns d day pls stand out deck out in a diff colour. Lota love

by sweet added over 2 years ago

My name is Cynthia and i seek for true friendship and

partner so i contacted you, please if you don't mind
i will like
you to reply my mail back so i can send you my
and tell you more
about me,

by adeleye julia added over 2 years ago

this is d most affordable list,wedding with no tears,if u think this is expensive,try igbo wedding.

by kenny added over 2 years ago

in fact am so speechless ,i never knew people has gone dis so much impressed ......

by jane added over 2 years ago

ds is gud luv ds article hv bin lukin 4 ds opportunity tanks. Guys pls fasten ur belt very wel if u knw u want 2 mari a gud woman lol. Una don c d list baa e no eazy o

by jane added over 2 years ago

ds is gud luv ds article hv bin lukin 4 ds opportunity tanks. Guys pls fasten ur belt very wel if u knw u want 2 mari a gud woman lol. Una don c d list baa e no eazy o

by hammed aina modinat added almost 2 years ago

Wow dis is lovly. I cn't wait to see more

by Taoheed Akinola added 11 months ago

I realy appreciate ur effort in bringing this unavoidable list to our reach. Pls keep it up. This list is moderate when compared to the request made by other tribes. Although, i am married with children.I didn't have the opportunity to eyed the list but it sound strange to me when my wife was briefing me then. I call out to my brother who are yet to get married not to be scared of the long list. All items that has to do with the bride's parents can not be skipped but others that has to with ur damsel, ur wife to be can be discuss betwn urself to reduce d burden. Pls don't miss This day,it worth celebrating! Na my wedding, i no go miss am!

by tiwa added 11 months ago

U forgot to mention dat dey pay money to bring out d bride nd if u unveil nd she is not d one u will keep paying for the unveiling till she is d one

by jude ike added 9 months ago

I love my yoruba GF and would love to get married to her soonest. Thanks for the article, and I must confess that the list is just ok, at least I won't empty my is most priceless and I can't wait to make her my wife

by MICHAEL ROSELINE added 2 months ago

wow! This is great. I can't wait to see others. Especially the igbo

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