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There is no way you have heard of the Yoruba people, without knowing that they love to party. Big celebrations are a core element of Yoruba culture. It is believed that celebrations are a show of love, and it also fosters cohesion. That is why, the Yoruba people would organise a party for causes such as marriage, burials, naming, and so on.
The Yoruba traditional wedding is always celebrated in grand style. The marriage ceremony involves the bride’s family, the groom’s family, and friends of the couple, who go extra to ensure the event is the best in town. Now, you are curious about what happens at a Yoruba traditional wedding. Let’s answer that question.
What happens at a Yoruba Traditional Wedding?
The Yoruba traditional wedding is called Igbeyawo in the Yoruba dialect. The ceremony is often held before the white wedding and is seen as an engagement. This is because, at the ceremony, the groom – Oko-Iyawo, will come with his family and friends to propose his intentions for the bride. The bride’s family will then give an acceptance letter to the groom’s family. Then, the wife – Iyawo, is expected to pick one out of the engagement gifts presented – Eru Iyawo. The gift item she picks should contain her engagement ring. Oftentimes, she is expected to pick the religious book – Bible or Quran.
In addition, Yorubas also believe that the Traditional wedding ceremony is for the bride’s family. The bride’s family is expected to cover the costs of the ceremony and also receive the Groom’s family. Albeit, in some situations, both families may share the ceremony’s cost.
We can’t talk about the Yoruba Traditional wedding, without the Yoruba Traditional Wedding Attire. Even till modern day, the traditional attire speaks volumes about the couple. It is crucial for everyone involved to be properly dressed according to Yoruba cultural expectations.
Are you asking yourself, ‘ what does a Yoruba bride wear? ‘, ‘how about the groom’s friends?’.
The next section would explain in detail every aspect of the Yoruba Traditional Wedding Attire.
Yoruba Traditional Wedding Attire
Do you know the popular phrase that goes, “the way you dress that’s the way you would be addressed”? Well, the Yoruba people also attach a lot of meaning to your dressing. So for every one of their ceremonies – including Yoruba Traditional wedding -, they attach meanings to the attire you wear.
Let’s look at the Yoruba Traditional wedding attire for the bride and groom.
1 Element of the Yoruba Traditional Wedding Attire
The Yoruba Traditional wedding attire worn by the bride or groom signifies their affluence. They need to pick stylish and luxurious attire. Although their attire needs to be stylish and modern, they also need to consider the basic elements.
Aso Oke – also known as ‘ Ofin ‘- is the preferred material used for making Yoruba luxurious clothing. Aso oke translates to – high clothing. This implies clothes of high status. The Aso Oke is a woven fabric that is locally dyed in various colours.
The bride is expected to use an Aso Oke as an Iborun/Ipele – meaning shawl-, while the groom is required to make a Yoruba traditional cap -known as the fila- from the Aso oke.
Asides from the Aso oke, the couples can pick fabric such as Lace, damask, or Ankara.
Yoruba couples are also expected to adorn themselves with beads (Ileke), gold, or other jewellery. These adornments includes; earrings, bracelets, or necklaces.
2 The Yoruba traditional wedding attire of the Groom
For a more traditional look, Yoruba Grooms are required to dress in Buba, Sokoto, and Fila. This means Top, Trousers, and hat, respectively. However, the husband may decide to spice things up with his Agbada( large flowing robes with large sleeves), beaded necklace, and an Irukere (horsetail).
The Yoruba Traditional wedding attire of the groom should match that of his bride. This outfit should be sewn with the same fabric as the brides’.
Well, what is the bride expected to wear?
3 The Yoruba traditional wedding attire of the Bride
Yoruba brides are expected to dress completely like a Yoruba woman. A typical Yoruba woman would wear Iro, Buba, ati Gele. This translates to Wrapper, top, and headwrap. Moreover, a young woman getting married would wear extra pieces such as a Shawl (Iborun), Matching shoes(Bata), and a matching hand fan.
Custom-made beaded jewellery would also add to her sparkle. Nonetheless, she can also settle for pieces of jewellery made from Gold, or other luxurious metal. The bride’s jewellery is crucial, as it adds more elegance to her neck, ears, and wrist.
Asides from Iro ati Buba, modern-day Yoruba brides are now settling for stylish gowns made from lace material. She can also use a skirt and blouse. Whatever pattern of clothing she picks, the Gele and Ipele are necessary accessories. So, for those Yoruba brides who are looking for stylish attires for their traditional engagement, you should attach an Aso oke to your bucket list. This is because Iborun and Gele are to be made from Aso oke fabric.
The Aso-Ebi means ‘ cloth of the family ‘. Like the meaning, it is a uniform attire worn by loved ones during ceremonies and Yoruba events. This attire is picked to show solidarity, identification, and love. In Yoruba traditional weddings, the friends and families of the groom/ bride would need to pick an Asoebi.
Each of the families may decide to pick distinct fabrics for recognition, albeit, they can also pick a similar fabric.
Often, the groom’s friends asoebi differ from the bride’s friends. They pick distinct Ebi for self-identification.
In addition, a particular fabric may be sold to other event attendees. Sometimes, the couples sell these fabrics as a means of revenue generation for the big event. At the end of the day, they may present gifts to people who purchase the fabrics. Nonetheless, it is not mandatory.
To also put, the traditional Yoruba wedding attire for the guest may range from lace, aso oke, to gele. The guests are often allowed to pick their dress styles, but the Aso Ebi sold can be used as Accessories, like Iborun, Gele, Fila, and so on.