Does the idea of going about your Nigerian marriage introduction (aka Door Knocking) terrify you? Here are our answers to everything a groom needs to know about organizing his marriage introduction. After reading this post, you’ll feel less tense about getting started with your marriage introduction and you’ll know how to officially meet your in-laws like a boss.
In Nigeria, planning the white wedding is usually hands-free for grooms, but grooms are actively involved in organizing their marriage introduction. The reason is because the focus and attention is on a groom during his Traditional Marriage Introduction, and this stresses out a lot of grooms.
During the marriage introduction grooms have to face the bride’s family to declare their marriage proposal and they also have to present the dowry or customary marriage/ engagement gifts to the bride’s family. In Nigeria customs, Marriage Introduction, also known as ‘Door Knocking’ must take place before any wedding.
However, there would only be a wedding if the bride’s family accepts the intending-groom’s marriage proposal during the Marriage Introduction. This further terrifies some grooms.
After speaking with some married men on what they could have done differently if they were just preparing for their Marriage Introduction, we discovered that ‘Information’ on how it’s done and ‘basic Nigerian customs etiquettes’ was what they all wished they had. Hence, we decided that this post will provide that needed information to grooms-to-be.
To give me an idea of the fears grooms-to-be feel when preparing for Nigerian traditional wedding, I read through frequent questions I got from our male readers. All my answers are in this post – Everything a Groom Needs to Know About Preparing for/ Organizing His Marriage Introduction, also known as Door Knocking Ceremony.
To ensure that I gave you the very best answers, I also put questions through to some older men and women across tribes to get their wisdom and insights for this post. I hope this post helps you make your marriage introduction journey easier and less terrifying. Swipe or scroll down to read the full post.
Western Marriage Proposal vs Nigerian Marriage Proposal Introduction
In a nutshell, this is what happens before and up to weddings in Nigeria: boy meets girl, falls in love, and then proposes to her. Next, boy tells his father. After that, boy’s father and his Uncles escorts him to meet the girl’s father (for Marriage Proposal Introduction) to ‘ask for her hand in marriage’. By Nigerian tradition, boy’s father speaks directly to girl’s father – presenting his son’s intention to marry the girl (or marriage proposal). The girl’s father will then call her in and ask her if she accepts the proposal (in the presence of everyone present).
Parental acceptance is critical to get things moving. The bride’s father’s acceptance is also required in order for a wedding to hold. Even the groom’s parent’s acceptance is very important – if they did not accept, they would not accompany the groom for the customary Marriage Introduction.
If both the girl and her parents accept the marriage proposal, preparations are then made to pay the customary bride price and also present the dowry (known as traditional engagement list items), and then wedding planning. If her parents reject, there will not be a wedding.
Nigerian pre-wedding process (or Traditional Proposal) is different from Western marriage proposal whereby the groom proposes to/ asks the bride first and her parents get to hear about it later. However, in Nigerian tradition, the groom-to-be presents his marriage proposal to the bride-to-be through her father, in the presence of key male figures of his family (his father and uncles) who are witnesses.
So, families (of bride and groom) are carried along early on through the marriage proposal stage to the traditional engagement/ traditional wedding ceremony. This is just how it’s been done for ages. It is important for a groom-to-be should get familiar with this process, so that he knows where to start from and what to do at each stage.
In Nigerian culture, marriage proposal or presentation of intention to marry, also known as Door-Knocking, is directed to the bride’s father (or her father figure) and and uncles, and not to the bride. A groom first goes to a bride’s parent to make their his marriage proposal intention known, and also ask for their permission (or acceptance).
Traditionally, Nigerian young girls went from their parent’s house straight to their husbands house. Therefore, parents were first consulted for everything, including marriage. Even though times have changed, many young women now leave their parents homes early to Universities and work, the Nigerian customs still demands that an intending-groom first makes his marriage proposal intentions know to the bride’s parents, in order to ask for his consent.
This is what the traditional marriage proposal process in Nigeria looks like: groom-t-be asks for bride’s father’s consent (to accept him as a son-in-law), before asking for the bride’s consent. So, first, groom meets bride’s father (to ask for her hand in marriage) > If her Father accepts, he personally informs her of groom’s intention/ request and asks for her response which they relay back to the groom.
Asking her dad (bride’s father) first is a sign of respect, and a sign that the groom is well-trained, which is a desired quality every father of bride looks out for.
Since a lot of people now widely travel far from their parents for work and school, Nigerians have also adopted (or are practicing) the Western type of marriage proposal whereby a man proposes privately to the woman – and only the woman’s consent matters. It is done differently in Nigeria – here groom asks for parent’s consent first, before asking for bride’s consent.
Nigerian parents and families still remain true to their marriage culture (of bride’s father consenting first) irrespective of the widespread practice of western proposal. Even if a woman has been engaged to her fiancé the non-Nigerian way, her parents and extended family only recognize the marriage proposal that’s done the way our forefathers, grandparents had done it.
In Nigerian culture, parental acceptance is a huge requirement for weddings to hold. Some engagements have been broken just because the woman’s parents did not give their consent. Similarly, the groom’s parents’ consent is needed – that is the purpose of Marriage Introduction events where parents of both sides (bride and groom) officially meet to find out if the consent is mutual.
That is why the ‘marriage introduction’ event is held before traditional weddings in Nigeria – to confirm acceptance of all parties involved (i.e. the bride and her parents).
What happens after a bride’s father gives his consent (or accepts the groom)? Next step is the Marriage Introduction (where groom and bride’s families officially meet, get introduced and fix wedding date, request for engagement list, and discuss key wedding plans), and after that the wedding (Traditional Wedding) holds. *The marriage Introduction and Traditional Wedding can be planned to hold on same day, a day apart or weeks/ months apart – as is convenient to the couple or important persons who need to be present.
NIGERIAN ENGAGEMENT LIST SAMPLES FOR GROOMS
An Engagement List is the Dowry, or a list of customary gift items a groom presents to the bride’s parents during a traditional wedding.
- Eru Iyawo for Introduction (Yoruba Engagement List)
- Igbo Traditional Engagement List: What it Looks Like
- Eshan (Edo) Traditional Marriage List Sample
What is Marriage Introduction All About?
Marriage Introduction ceremony is where a groom brings his family to introduce them to the family of the woman he seeks to marry. In Nigeria, weddings are a communal thing.
So, the Marriage Introduction event is all about ‘getting to know each family’ ceremony where each side of the family (bride’s, groom’s) gets introduced to the other, and why they are meeting.
The Nigerian culture, for every tribe and part of Nigeria, requires that a ready-groom visits the bride’s parents and key family members to officially seek for their daughter’s hand in marriage (aka traditional wedding proposal).
Later, the bride’s father would tell his daughter the purpose of the groom-to-be and his family, and then ask if she knows the groom, and what she thinks of his marriage proposal (accept or reject?).
Is Marriage Introduction Supposed to Be a Big Event?
No, only if the couple wants it big. Just like a wedding, it’s your budget that should determine how small or big you size your Marriage Introduction Ceremony. Usually, many budget couples have a low-key marriage introduction and a big or mid-size traditional wedding.
Traditionally, the marriage introduction ceremony is not the wedding day, and so it’s not expected to be a big gathering. Usually, it’s a parlour/ living room affair/ discussion.
Some couples choose to make their marriage introduction into a lavish party, and this is totally optional and not a standard.
What’s the Purpose of Marriage Introduction
In summary, a marriage introduction ceremony is a meeting whereby both sides of the prospective in-laws family (groom’s side, bride’s side) come together to be introduced and get to know each other.
Marriage Introduction is also when the groom (through his father) officially presents the marriage proposal to the bride, through his father who is the custodian of her family.
Can the Groom Go Alone for Marriage Introduction?
No, the groom cannot go alone for marriage introduction according to Nigerian customs. The purpose of ‘Marriage Introduction’ is for both sides of the family (groom’s side, bride’s side) to be formally introduced to each other. Hence, this is also called ‘Family Introduction’.
The groom is expected to bring his parents and a few important members of his father’s side of the family (the males) so that they’ll be introduced to heads of the family on the bride’s family side.
You may be wondering why you can’t go alone, right? It’s because, in Nigerian culture, marriage is considered a process to forge a new family and friendship with the in-laws.
If you’re a Nigerian man, you may already know that during the family-to-family introductory meeting and reveal of the groom’s intention (to marry the bride) and seeking her family’s response.
In most Nigerian tribes, the marriage introduction meetings are an all-men affair, without the bride present in the room.
GROOMS MARRIAGE INTRODUCTION GUIDES
- Eshan (Edo) Traditional Marriage Introduction Process (Grooms Guide)
- Igbo Traditional Marriage Stages Overview
- Igbo Marriage Introduction: Overview of Grooms First Visit to In-laws
- Yoruba Traditional Wedding Programme Overview (Q & A)
- Yoruba Traditional Engagement List and Process Explained
If You Have Already Proposed to a Woman, Will You Be Required to Do Marriage Introduction?
Yes, you will. That’s because, in Nigerian culture, the only proposal that us recognized is the family-to-family proposal (or family marriage introduction).
Engagement vs Traditional Marriage: What’s the Difference?
Engagement is the period before your wedding and the time when you proposed to a woman, asking her for her hand in marriage, and she said YES.
In Nigeria, a traditional wedding is when you ask her parents permission or consent for her hand in marriage and they agree, and a customary wedding ceremony is conducted to make it official This is mandatory whether you proposed to her already or not.
Note that a traditional wedding is legally recognized and is as complete a wedding as a registry or a white wedding.
Who Gets to Be in the Marriage Introduction Ceremony
In some parts of Nigeria such as in Igboland, only the men are involved, and in other parts, it’s a mix of men and women.
In some areas (like Igboland), the bride doesn’t have to be inside the meeting (but she may or may not be anywhere around), as she can later be contacted for information.
In some parts of Nigeria, like in Yorubaland, the bride has to be around, as she would certainly be called in to be asked some questions.
In some places, a marriage introduction ceremony involves only the men (the groom, his father and a few Uncles/ and or brothers) in groom’s side of the family coming to get introduced to those on the bride’s side of the family.
In some parts of Nigeria, some women are also involved. You need to do your findings in advance to know how it is done where your bride-to-be is from.
Is Marriage Introduction only for Nigerian Men and Does it Exclude Foreign Men?
The Western proposal is a foreign or borrowed culture, and so not recognized in Nigerian culture.
What is recognized is the traditional manner of making marriage proposals open, and directly to the family of the bride (her father and her father’s brothers and Uncles).
The customary method of marriage proposal/ intention reveal is a mandatory pre-wedding inquiry, whether you’re a Nigerian or not.
It is the real proposal, and both the groom and his family are assessed for to get an idea if they’re welcoming of their daughter.
A Sneak Peek into What Happens During a Marriage Introduction Ceremony
This marriage introduction meeting/ ceremony must take place before the traditional wedding can take place.
It is where both family side (the bride’s and groom’s) would be meeting officially and getting introduced to each other.
It is also expected that the groom’s parents speak/ present on his behalf to make the intention of their visit known to the bride’s family.
The sole intention is to ask for the bride’s hand’s in marriage or seek the parent’s consent.
During the marriage introduction, a reply is expected from her family side, which is YES or NO. Sometimes, the answer is NO, and that means that no wedding can take place.
In the olden days, the grooms family would need to first come to reveal their marriage proposal/ intention and then go back to wait for a response from the bride’s family.
The bride’s family, in turn, conducts secret inquiries to confirm the conduct of the prospective inlaws.
Depending on the culture of the bride’s people, they would be given a reply the same day or on a specified date not far away.
Thanks to the evolution of culture and the understanding of elders to make it easy for people living far to quickly conduct weddings and get back to their work or school, the multiple-day and weeks marriage introduction ceremonies or meetings have been condensed to become one-day-only ceremony.
- Igbo Marriage Introduction Process Explained
- Yoruba Traditional Marriage Program Flow of Events
- Esan (Edo)Introduction & Traditional Marriage Process Explained
Can the Groom Go for Marriage Introduction Without Prior Notice to Bride’s Family?
Usually, the groom should have set up the meeting date with the bride’s father, who in turn informs his brothers and uncles to agree on a suitable date.
Behind the scenes, before the groom and his family visits the bride’s family for marriage introduction, secret findings and background checks would be done to determine the character and reputation of the groom, his parents, grandparents (ancestors), Uncles, Aunts and siblings. The groom’s family also do a similar check on the bride and her background.
The outcome of such findings is what informs the bride’s family’s response to the marriage proposal by the groom’s family. Similarly, if the findings by the groom’s family (about the bride and her lineage) are distasteful, they would discourage their son from proceeding with the marriage plans.
The bride-to-be would also be asked questions to get an idea of the groom and his family reputation, and also to find out her reply to the groom’s proposal.
Should the Groom Go Empty-Handed or Take a Gift to Bride’s Family During Marriage Introduction?
In nearly all parts of Nigeria, it is a tradition to take courtesy gifts along when you’re visiting an important person or a family that lives a distance apart. With regards to his Marriage Introduction, the groom must not visit his in-laws empty-handed, according to tradition.
Therefore, it is essential for the groom with his family take along a set of thoughtful courtesy gifts, when visiting the bride’s family for his Marriage Introduction. It should be noted that such gifts are free-will gifts.
Examples of typical types of gifts that grooms families usually bring along include: bottle(s) of wine, whiskey, big/ sizable tubers of yams, baskets of fruits, sizable bunches of plantains, and other thoughtful items of gift.
While what constitutes a typical courtesy gift is similar across all parts of Nigeria, there may be some differences, and therefore I always recommend that the groom asks his bride to let him know exactly the types of Courtesy Gifts considered appropriate (by her part of Nigeria) to bring along when he and his family are coming for the Marriage Introduction.
What Is Expected of the Bride’s Family on the Introduction Day?
The bride’s family are the host of the day, and as such are required to provide catering (food and drinks) to entertain the groom’s family. Some grooms choose to support the bride’s family with some money to help with the catering, and they’d usually send their financial support (money) a few weeks or months before the Marriage Introduction day.
What If the Groom’s Father or Bride’s Father is Late/ Dead? Who Should Be in Their Marriage Introduction?
Nigeria is a patriarchal society, and so the Marriage Introduction ceremony, as well as the traditional marriage and other pre-wedding events are coordinated by the men, with the bride’s and groom’s father as in focus. Other key male members of each family side are also in attendance.
According to Nigeria customs, where the father of the bride or groom is late (dead), the next older male family member (most senior Uncle of bride or groom) represents their father at the Marriage Introduction and traditional Marriage/ Engagement ceremony.
Whereby the bride’s father is late, he can be represented by a senior male figure within his family (such as his brother, also the bride’s Uncle). The same is the case if the groom’s father is late.
Nigerian Marriage Introduction event, and bride price discussions, is traditionally a gathering of male figures of the bride’s family and of the groom’s family, led by their fathers.
Family Background Research (or Reputation Research)
In modern Nigerian, due to how everyone no longer lives in a tight-knit community, it’s difficult for traditional pre-wedding-introduction background research to be done like in the past. After the groom has formally introduced his family and marriage intentions to bride’s family, an emissary is sent out to do a secret search and findings on the groom and his lineage.
The purpose of this pre-wedding background research is to find out if they are good people; get an idea of their character and how his lineage (parents, grandparents and ancestors) treated their wives. They also want to find out whether some members of that family historically experience infertility or any genetic/ health issues. The groom’s family also send people to do a background check on the bride’s lineage.
In Nigeria, it is believed that children carry a little or more of the traits and characters of their parents or grand/ great-grand parents and knowing this in advance can help prevent their daughter or son from an unhappy marriage.
Although, these days due to our people living far and wide across the World, conducting a pre-wedding background and family reputation research is difficult. But it’s still done where possible. Where impossible, the bride’s parents would rely on what they already know about the groom, as well as what their daughter and others tell them. Parents would usually sit their daughters or sons to ask questions about their prospective bride or groom and their families.
Aside from the background research, many fathers would probe the groom and his parents, asking a few questions of who they are, what they do and more questions to help them guage their character. The goal is to be sure that their daughter would be well taken care of, and if not, they would not give their blessing to the union.
The bride’s family expects that the groom and his family should have done their research on how marriage introductions take place in the bride’s hometown. Based on the outcome of their findings, either the groom or the bride’s family will say ‘No’ to the union.
What You Should Do Before Going for Marriage Introduction
You would be discrediting yourself if you arrive at the marriage introduction without doing prior research. That’s because, traditionally, groom’s families are expected to come with specific items of gifts and to present your marriage proposal/ intention in a certain way.
Bring a Courtesy Gift or Gift Set: What is considered ideal items of gifts are different for different parts of Nigeria/ villages, and are customary, and not specified by the bride’s parents. The good news is that there are known TYPICAL TYPES OF COURTESY GIFTS that grooms have historically brought along when going for marriage introduction. So, you just need to ask your friends or fiancé for what these are, Eve if she does not know, she can ask her Aunties and Uncles. Ensure to take a gift(s) for the bride’s Father, and another gift(s) for her mother.
Confirm What’s Appropriate Courtesy Gifts: Before the groom and VIP members of his family embark on the marriage introduction visit, it is important that a groom does his research in advance regarding what types of gifts are appropriate (in her part of Nigeria) to bring along.
Search the internet and local websites, ask anyone that may know or that can get the information for him, ask friends, his parents, asks his bride to ask people (her mother, relatives or friends). If you have married Nigerian male friends, ask them how they went about it. We have a post where a groom shares how his ‘first meeting his father-in-law’ story.
The customary marriage introduction gifts are symbolic and not only peculiar to Nigerian culture (we read about the Bible people doing it in the old testament, and Nigerians were doing it before foreign religions were introduced here.
Many other countries also do it and each one does it their own way. It’s expected in Nigeria that a groom follows the bride’s culture when asking for her hand in marriage, even if you’re from a different part of Nigeria or from outside Nigeria.
Is Traditional Marriage Compulsory?
Yes, Traditional Marriage, also known as Traditional Wedding, is compulsory. What is not compulsory in Nigeria is the White Wedding and/ or Court Wedding – those are personal choices, if the bride and groom choose. Traditional Wedding is legally recognized in Nigeria.
Traditional Marriage is how our ancestors got wedded, and is the only type of wedding recognized in Nigerian villages (by the bride’s people, and by the groom’s people). As a Nigerian, you are regarded as married by your people only if you have had a Traditional Wedding; of course, preceded by bride price presentation.
White Wedding is foreign to Nigeria. It’s a borrowed culture. Hence, couples who have a ‘white wedding’ and/ or ‘court wedding’ only do so after they have had a proper Nigerian-style wedding, which is the traditional wedding.
Many Churches in Nigeria request that their members first satisfy the customary wedding (Traditional Wedding) before coming to be wed in the church. Before the forceful colonization of Nigeria by the British, Traditional wedding was the way our people got married. To this date, many Nigerians, including celebrities choose to have only a Traditional Wedding.
What is Engagement List and Is it Compulsory?
Yes, it is compulsory. Nigerian Engagement Gifts are simply ‘the Dowry’, which is practiced in many other parts of the World. It’s a part of the Traditional marriage rites. Dowry items vary from country to country, and they are purely symbolic age-old customs.
Engagement List, also known as Traditional Wedding List, is the customary set of gifts a groom presents to the bride’s family as part of the dowry when he is coming to get married. I explained more about the significance of bride price in Nigeria and everything you need to know about Nigerian Engagement List here.
How to Get Information for Your Traditional Wedding During Your Marriage Introduction
So, if during or after the introduction ceremony/ meeting goes well, you’d be given a go-ahead to start planning your traditional wedding.
If you want to get things started soon, during the family introduction meeting/ marriage introduction ceremony is a good time to request for the engagement list/ dowry.
If you get a YES, it’s also a time to ask the bride’s family what you are expected to do next and how.
You may also want to share a tentative date you’re considering for the traditional wedding with them for feedback whether that day would work for them.
Which Comes First: Marriage Introduction or Traditional Wedding?
In Nigerian weddings, the marriage introduction comes before the traditional marriage ceremony. The marriage introduction is the very first step, and so also comes before the White wedding. Continue reading to find out why.
Traditional Marriage vs Traditional Engagement: What’s the Difference?
Both traditional engagement and traditional marriage actually refer to the same thing in Nigerian weddings. Because a typical Nigerian person hosts an average of two weddings, somehow, people preferred to refer to a White wedding as ‘the wedding’ and the traditional marriage as ‘ the traditional engagement’.
Well, again, because the traditional wedding ceremony begins with a customary proposal where the groom presents his marriage intention or proposal to the bride’s family.
It’s important to know that the traditional wedding is legally recognized and so is a complete wedding on its own. Some people do not have any other wedding after a traditional wedding.
Conclusion: Grooms Guide to Preparing for Nigerian Marriage Introduction
Being informed of the journey ahead and what is expected of you will help you prepare yourself like a fearless boss for your Nigerian Marriage Introduction. This post is packed full with the information and basic traditional Nigerian Etiquettes to help grooms nail their first meeting with their prospective in-laws, as well as their Marriage Introduction.
I hope I have answered every possible question you have about marriage introduction, especially if you’re not a Nigerian man and preparing to take a Nigerian bride.
I know how confusing it can be for non-natives to come to terms with their partner’s wedding culture. I’ve spent time on this blog clearing up the confusion for some of our readers in this regard.
And I thought to use this post to throw out my responses to help others who such questions are standing in their way as they deal with how to organize their marriage introduction ceremony.
Thanks for reading. If this post has helped you, please do me a favour to share it on social media.
MORE WEDDING PLANNING GUIDES FOR GROOMS
- First Meeting My Father-in-Law and How I Told Him
- Grooms Visits to Igbo In-Laws: Process Explained
- Yoruba Engagement List Sample (Eru Iyawo)
- Esan (Edo)Introduction & Traditional Marriage Process Explained
- Igbo Traditional Marriage List Sample
- Edo Traditional Marriage List
- Traditional Wedding Budget Sample
Also, consider subscribing to our GlamWedding newsletter and follow us on social media where we regularly share bite-sized planning tips and wedding fashion inspiration for guests and celebrants.
Finally, comment down below to let me know your thoughts on this topic or add a point you think I missed adding.