Are you ready to have your traditional marriage but don’t have the nerves to meet your in-laws to request for the mystery “LIST”? You wished you knew the items in “the List” and cost estimate so that you first get prepared before meeting your father-in-law. This post is a sneak peek into what the Nigerian Traditional Marriage/ Engagement List looks like.
Traditional Marriage List, sometimes called ‘Traditional Engagement List’, and shortened as “the list” is a critical step that must be crossed before a groom marries a Nigerian woman. In nearly all parts of Nigeria, the custom is that the groom meets the bride’s father in person to reveal his intentions to marry his daughter, and also request for “the list”.
This is a scary step for many grooms, even if they already ‘know’ the woman’s father. Scary because there’s no manual on what to expect and how to navigate the waters. In this post and related articles, we provide a sneak peek for grooms to help them become confident and better prepared to taking the next steps to marrying their Nigerian bride. Read on!
SEE: Different Nigerian Traditional Engagement List Samples (in alphabetical order) so far
- Esan (Edo) Traditional Marriage List Sample
- Igbo Traditional Marriage List
- Yoruba Traditional Marriage List
All A Groom Needs to Know When Preparing for Nigerian Traditional Engagement (Pre-Trad Things)
In Nigeria, brides tend to focus on planning the white wedding while grooms are seriously into getting the traditional marriage list and bride price sorted out. However, ready-to-marry are challenged by the fact that they are unable to plan a budget for the Marriage List in advance.
Some grooms are stuck in the about-to-collect-list stage and never get past it. If you’re a groom preparing to marry a Nigerian woman, I feel your challenge. There are many resources available on the glamorous part of Nigerian wedding – flashy outfits, shiny aso-ebi attire and all that glitters.
On the other hand, there isn’t much resources to help grooms navigate the pre-planning stages of Marriage Introduction and Traditional Wedding in Nigeria. Many grooms want to know what to expect before embarking on meeting the bride’s family to formally request for “the list”.
That makes sense – no one likes to fly blind. Usually, the fear of a “mystery list” causes many grooms to delay making that visit to ask for the bride’s hand on marriage, and also ask for “the marriage list”.
Examples of questions that ready-to-marry grooms ask themselves include: what does the marriage list look like, and how much should I budget for it. To help more grooms prepare themselves before going to meet their bride’s father-in-law and her extended family, we provide a sneak peek into Traditional Marriage List (also known as Traditional Engagement List) of different parts of Nigeria.
More Traditional Marriage Guides for Grooms
- Esan (Edo) Traditional Wedding Process Overview
- Yoruba Traditional Wedding Order of Events
- Igbo Marriage Introduction Visits Overview
What is “The List” Really?
The Nigerian Traditional Marriage List, also known as ‘Traditional Engagement List’ or “The List” for short, is simply the Dowry, which a pre-wedding practice in many countries across the World. According to Brides, ‘the dowry is a gift of substantial monetary value given from either the bride or groom to their future spouse upon marriage’.
The value of a Dowry varies across different cultures. It’s noteworthy to emphasize that a Dowry is considered a Gift or Present, and is not the same thing as the bride price – the groom will still have to fulfill the bride price after presentation of the Nigerian Dowry or Engagement List. Also, a Dowry is not a price paid in exchange for the bride.
What the Engagement List Is: The Nigerian Traditional Marriage List, or Dowry, is the customary set of gifts or DOWRY a groom is expected to present to the bride’s family before the wedding, as part of the pre-wedding rites.
What the Engagement List Is NOT: It is not a payment for the wife, but rather a GIFT and customary marriage rite that has been practiced for ages. It’s also called ‘traditional engagement list’. In Nigerian culture, the girl child is priceless (of inestimable value, not for sale) and the engagement list items from the groom is not a payment for wife.
The culture of Dowry presentation is practiced in several countries and also mentioned in the Bible. Daughters are priceless and the bride price and not for sale, and so traditional engagement gifts or dowry are not a price for girl children in Nigeria.
What is the Significance of Nigerian Engagement List Gifts or Dowry?
According to Nigerian customs, when a groom and his family bring the dowry (known as Traditional Marriage Gifts or List), it signifies that he has come to honour the parents of his would-be-wife and showing his gratitude to them for birthing and raising a fine young woman of virtue.
Some of the gifts in the Nigerian Dowry or Engagement List are for different groups of people in the bride’s family, and when the groom presents that Dowry/ pre-wedding gifts, it symbolizes gratitude to the different people who have helped raise his bride.
Also included in the Nigerian Engagement List (or Dowry) are some gifts for the bride, which she takes along to her new home after the wedding.
Why is Nigerian Dowry Called a “List’?
Like Dowry in different parts of the World, the Nigerian Dowry is not a single item. The list of items that make up the Dowry are written or printed in a List Format, and then given to the groom upon request. The name, Engagement List or Traditional Marriage List comes from the format (a LIST) that the Nigerian Dowry is written on.
Will the Groom Still Pay the Bride Price After Presenting the Engagement List?
Yes, the groom is required to fulfill the Engagement List Gifts presentation (i.e. Dowry) and also Bride Price payment. Both are two different things and part of the Nigerian Traditional Marriage rites.
According to New World Botanica, Bride Price is payment for a right to marry your bride (and not payment for a bride). Here’s how they put it: “Bride price is an amount of money, property or other form of wealth “paid” to the parents of a woman for the right to marry their daughter”.
Some Nigerian Parents Return the Bride Price to the Groom: In parts of Nigeria, after the groom has presented the bride price, some parents later hand back the bride price to the groom and his new wife. They let him know that they are happy to accept him as a son-in-law and are regifting him the bride price money for him and his bride to spend. They further let him know that their daughter is not for sale and their concern is that he takes care of her. You can read about how it’s done in our post titled ‘Yoruba Traditional Wedding Order of Events‘.
Bride Price as a Marriage Bond: It is noteworthy to point that according to customs in many parts of Nigeria, return of a bride price back to the groom signifies the dissolution of a marriage.
As simple as that is, the bride price signifies a marriage bond or marriage license. The man or woman are only free to remarry if the bride price has been returned.
Conclusion: Nigerian Traditional Engagement List
I’ll keep updating this resource to include Traditional Marriage Lists from more parts of Nigeria. I understand that you want to face your in-laws when you are sure you are capable of fulfilling the engagement/ traditional marriage list.
As a groom that wants to plan in advance, also explore other backdoor ways to get an idea of what the Traditional Marriage List of your bride’s Nigerian village or state. Try asking married friends whose wives are from that part of Nigeria. Also, try asking the bride to ask her Uncles and Aunties.
It makes sense to first save up for your traditional wedding list in advance, just like you save for a wedding. Finally, just man-up and meet your proposed father-in-law, even if you’ve not seen a sample.
If you’d like to share how traditional wedding is done in your part of Nigeria, and also give us an insight into what the Traditional Marriage List looks like in your village or state, I’d like to hear from you.
Let’s help tell the World about our various beautiful indigenous marriage cultures. These traditional marriage lists help intending grooms become well informed of the marriage rites, so they can be better prepared.
I hope that this post and our other wedding planning for grooms posts has helped you become better prepared for your Nigerian Traditional Wedding. I’d appreciate that you help me share this post with someone that needs it, and also post it on your social media.
Finally, I want to hear from you. How far have you gone in your preparation for your Nigerian traditional marriage? Have you presented the engagement or marriage list yet?
Have you met your father in-law yet and formally asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage? What was the experience like? What else is left for you to do in the pre-wedding rites? Comment down below to tell me.