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.
|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