Something I love about the Yorubas is their love for parties.
There is no tribe in Nigeria that does the party better than them, take it or leave it. The Yorubas have a really wonderful culture which is reflected in their very flamboyant wedding popularly called Owambe.
Here is the step by step procedure for a Yoruba wedding:
The Alarina are hired and acts as a middle person between the groom and bride’s family. The Alarina investigates the compatibility of both family and their background. The marriage can only go ahead if the Alarina gives the approval. Although, these days an Alarina is not often used in Yoruba weddings.
Usually, the wedding proceedings start with the informal introduction. The prospective groom along with some relatives goes to the bride’s family house. The two families meet informally and get to know each other. The groom’s family usually brings some tubers of yam and drinks. The bride’s family serves them a simple meal. A later date for a formal meeting is set and the groom’s family is presented with the Eru Iyawo list for the main wedding ceremony at this date. The date and venue for the wedding ceremony proper are agreed upon by both families. These days both the formal and informal reception are combined into one big event.
On the wedding day, the groom’s family is welcomed at the gate of the venue by the Alaga Ijoko (sitting MC) appointed by the bride’s family. After paying the Alaga Ijoko, they are ushered into the venue with singing and dancing. The groom’s family is introduced by the Alaga Iduro (Standing MC) and then they greet the bride’s family with the men prostrating and the female kneeling. The groom’s family present a proposal letter usually read by a young female member of the bride’s family. An acceptance letter is then presented to the groom’s family by the bride’s family before the ceremony is opened with prayers.
The Groom enters
The groom enters the wedding venue escorted by his friends. The groom and his friends prostrate to his family first. And then to the bride’s family. He prostrates two times with his friends. And does the prostration alone. Both families pray for him. The groom and his friends take their seats to await the bride.
The bridal entrance
The bride is always the last person to enter the wedding venue. She is escorted by her friends with singing and dancing. She is always veiled. She kneels before her parents for prayers and then before her future in-laws. Her in-laws pray for her and then lift her veil. She joins the groom after prayers and she puts the traditional cap, fila, on his head to signify that she has accepted the union.
After prayers, the bride is then instructed by the Alaga Ijoko to pick an engagement present from the Eru Iyawo brought by the groom’s family. The bride is expected to choose the Bible/Quran depending on her religion. This religious book will have her engagement ring in it. The bride then hands the ring to her husband who puts it on her fourth finger.
Cutting the engagement cake (Akara Oyibo)
After the bride has chosen her engagement present, the couple goes to cut their engagement cake which typically depicts an aspect of Yoruba culture.
The Bride price
The groom’s family hands the envelopes containing the bride price and money for the wives, children, elders in the bride’s family is handed to the bride’s family. The bride’s family only takes a small amount from the bride price envelope and hands it back to the groom’s family. This symbolic gesture lets everyone present know that the bride’s family isn’t selling but is just giving away to the groom. After the bride price is paid, food is served and the merriment begins.