Are you planning to marry an Igbo woman and wondering about how much the bride price and traditional engagement list will cost? Forget everything they told you or that you can’t afford to marry an Igbo woman, because most of those rumours are blatant lies.
The Igbo traditional engagement list for marriage is not as overwhelming or more expensive than other parts of Nigeria as people tend to make it, and you can find out right here.
In this post, you will get to know the items that make up the customary Igbo traditional marriage and bride price list (or dowry).
For many grooms planning a marriage introduction, they’re stressed because they want to save up or budget for ‘the engagement list’, but they do not (yet) know the things in the list.
Also, most men are scared to formally request for it (the list) without first getting an idea or ‘expo’ of how much they can spend on their Igbo traditional engagement list, for fear that it may be beyond them (cost-wise).
I know, it’s like flying blind and expected to land safely, or like being asked to go pay for a car without knowing the price in advance.
If you’ve ever felt that way, this post will give you all the information you need in advance to make an estimate or know how much your Igbo traditional marriage ceremony would cost. Now, swipe or scroll down to see a sample Igbo traditional marriage/ engagement list items.
*NOTE: The aim of providing this sample Igbo engagement list is to guide you in budgeting, and please do not buy them until you officially ask and receive it from your in-laws.
The Igbo custom requires a man to ask and collect ‘the list’ by himself. Note also that the items inside an Igbo Engagement List vary slightly (slightly) from one Igbo village to another.
Now, let’s get right into it – the customary gifts a groom is required to present to his future in-laws as part of the Igbo traditional marriage rites. They are 4 categories of gifts, by the way.
#1: Gifts for the Umu Ada (Igbo Traditional Engagement List Items)
In English, umu-ada means daughters. In this case, the gifts for the ‘umu ada’ would be shared among all the grown daughters in the bride’s extended family.
- Wrappers (George or Abada/ Ankara – brands such as Vlisco Hollandais, ABC English wax, Hitarget wax, super wax, Nigerian Wax, etc.)
- Igbo-style lace blouses
- Igbo Ichafu scarfs, also known as Gele headties (assorted styles and colours)
- Shoes and bags (assorted designs and colours)
- Jewellery (wrist watches, earrings, necklaces and rings in either gold, silver, gold plated/ GL)
- Toiletries (bath soaps, body creams, washing detergents, perfumes and so on)
- Drinks (malt and soft drinks)
- Lump-sum cash gift
#2: Gifts for the Umunna (Igbo Engagement List)
The items in this category will be shared among the men/ heads of the extended family of the bride-to-be.
- Kola nuts
- Palm wine (in gallons/ jerry cans)
- Bottles of hot drinks
- Cartons of assorted drinks (malt, soft drinks and beer)
- Tobacco snuff
- Cigarettes (rolls)
- Goat (1)
- Lump-sum cash gift
#3: General Gifts (Nmepe Uzo)
Translating to the English language, “nmepe uzo’ or ‘Imepe Uzo’ means ‘to open the door’.
- Bride price – Negotiable
- Cartons of star brand of beer (2)
- Cartons of Guinness stout (2)
- Cartons of malt (2)
- Crates of soft drinks (6)
- Bottles of hot drinks/whiskey (3)
- Tubers of yam (30)
- Bags of rice (2)
- Bags of salt (2)
- Onions (30)
- Palm oil (one 10 or 25 liters gallon)
- Groundnut oil (25 liters)
- Kerosene (1 gallon)
- Stockfish (1 basin)
- Meat – goat leg (2)
- Bread (25 loaves)
- Tins of Tomatoes (1 carton)
- Tins of Milk (1 carton)
- Tablet soap bars (1 carton)
- Talc face powder – big size: Saturday night powder or morning rose powder (20)
- Tobacco snuff (20 heads)
- Cigarettes (10 packets)
- Big basins (2)
- 5 sets of (George or Abada such as Vlisco Hollandais, super wax, HiTarget, ABC, Nigerian Wax, George)
- Igbo style lace blouses (2)
- Igbo Ichafu scarfs/ Gele headtie (2)
- Wristwatches (2 or more)
- Gold necklaces (2 or more)
- Large suitcase (1)
- Lamp / Lantern (1)
- Umbrella (3)
#4: Cash Gifts (During the Ime-Ego/ Bride Price Ceremony)
These are symbolic cash gifts – the groom and his family may negotiate each one down. These include:
- Money to bring down the pot from the fire (in Igbo: ego nfotu ite) – N1,000
- Money to open the wine keg (ego ncha kishi udu or in some Igbo dialects, ego nkwupu udu) – N1,000
- Money for in-laws (ego ogo cherem) – N50,000 (Ogo cherem literally means ‘in-law, wait for me. One of our readers, Chinelo, says it also means ‘the money my in-laws presented to me’).
- Money for maternity bill (ego maternity) – N1,000
- Money for the village chief (ego onye eze) – N1,500
- Lump-sum cash (ogwe ego) – N5,000
This post is part 2 of a 4-post series on the Igbo traditional marriage process (a guide for grooms), and you can check out the other articles in the series:
- Part 1: Overview & A-Z of Igbo Traditional Marriage Ceremony (Grooms Guide)
- Part 3: Everything You Should Know About Igba Nkwu (Wine Carrying) Process
- Part 4: Answers to Top Questions About Igbo Traditional Wedding
- What’s Expected When Visiting Your Igbo In-Laws to Discuss Marriage
How Much Will My Igbo Engagement List Cost?
The total cost of buying all the items in your Igbo traditional marriage list is what it will cost you, and the amount to budget. The only way to find out is to take that list to the market and ask for prices. Add up all the costs to get the totals.
Since the price of items in Nigeria differs from place to place, it will not be correct to quote any particular bulk price as the general cost of an Igbo traditional engagement list.
I also usually get asked ‘how much will my Igbo traditional wedding cost?’. To estimate how much your traditional marriage, add up the cost of the engagement list items with catering cost (food and drinks) at the marriage introduction/ traditional wedding
When is the Right Time to Present the Igbo Engagement List and Go For the Marriage Introduction?
If your girlfriend said yes to your marriage proposal, the next thing is to take your marriage proposal to her family, her parents first. In Igbo customs, this initial marriage proposal/ introductory rite is known as ‘iku aka’ (literal meaning: knock on the door).
You’ll first have to go alone to her parents and then take your family to see her bigger family (her parents and extended family). After the groom and his family receive a positive response from the bride’s family.
See how this groom planned and went for his marriage introduction: Story of How this Groom Planned and Met His Igbo Father-In-Law First Time
They will also receive ‘a list’ of the next steps to enable them to do a budget and prepare for the customary Igbo traditional marriage ceremony. That list is the bride price and engagement list. Scroll down to see what it looks like.
As part of Igbo custom, to marry an Igbo lady, a groom-to-be is expected to ask and receive the consent and blessings of the bride-to-be’s parents as well as her extended family.
Once they all give their consent, the groom can then proceed to complete the rest of the traditional marriage rites, which includes: the bride price payment (ime ego) with a presentation of the engagement list, and the formal traditional wedding party (the Igba Nkwu).
FURTHER READING: Igbo Traditional Marriage Process Explained in Details
This post that you’re reading is part of the series explaining the Igbo marriage stages, traditions, and customs. We’ve written detailed, easy to understand articles to help you understand how to go about marrying an Igbo woman.
Click the links below to get familiar with the process before your big day:
- Part 1 – Overview of Igbo Traditional Marriage Stages, Process and Customs (Grooms’ Guide)
- Part 2 – Grooms Guide on How to Prepare to Officially Meet Your Igbo In-Laws
- Part 3 –Igba Nkwu (Wine-Carrying( Ceremony – Everything a Groom Needs to Know
- Part 4 – Answers to Common Questions About Igbo Traditional Marriage Rites and Procedure – such as ‘can I do the engagement list and marriage rites if my Igbo fiance is pregnant?’
- Part 5 (This Post ) – The Igbo Traditional marriage List and Bride Price
MORE IGBO TRADITIONAL WEDDING PREPARATION TIPS & IDEAS:
- 5 Stunning Igbo GROOMS’ Wrapper and Shirt Attire Styles
- 7 Trendy Pocket-Square Senator Styles for Men
The Igbo Dowry vs The True Value of a Wife and Modern Day Twists
It’s important for a groom to know that the Igbo bride price and the customary engagement list are symbolical and do not represent the true value of a wife.
The presentation of dowry and bride price is an age-old practice that is also being done by not only the Igbos but by people or other parts of Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
For Ndigbo (Ogbo people), the value of a woman is beyond being quantified, and beyond monetary value. Therefore, the engagement list or dowry presentation should not be mistaken to mean that you are paying to ‘buy’ your bride.
It is wrong for a man to compare the worth of his bride-to-be or wife to the ‘symbolic’ cash value he paid as her dowry.
Budgeting for Igbo Traditional Engagement and Marriage Ceremony
The Igbo bride price and engagement list for grooms consist of gift items that are shared among different groups in the bride’s extended family/ kindred (the umunna, the umuada, the youths, etc.), they’re not only for the bride’s parents.
While the list can be intimidating to very young men who have recently started to earn a living, with some negotiation and bargaining and pleading, the bride’s family can usually tone down a few items.
To help their future son-in-laws cut down the costs of the traditional marriage ceremony, we’re seeing many Igbo parents waiving their part of the list in exchange for an intending groom to make a commitment to take good care of their daughter and her future children.
- Sample Nigerian Wedding Budgets from Other People’s Weddings
- Complete White Wedding Planning Checklist
- How to Plan a Traditional and White Wedding Same Day
If you are an Igbo bride or a groom married or about to get married to an Igbo girl, tell me – is there any item that was on your engagement list, which is not on the above list. How is the above list different from your own traditional marriage list?