Are you preparing for a Yoruba traditional wedding engagement/ ceremony and have questions about how to organize the flow of events or programme? This post has questions we received from some readers who live abroad and the answers are provided by our Yoruba wedding planner friend, Mrs Simisola Nwanze.
She provides a bullet-list of program of events, answers questions about when to have an outfit change, suggests what to do if you don’t have a live-talking drummer, what to do if you cannot afford having 2 Alagas, and more.
To make sure that you ‘get it’, I included a fun video from a Yoruba Traditional engagement ceremony, so that you can see the order/ flow of program-of-events in action. Now, swipe or scroll down to get right into it.
SIDENOTE: The questions in this post were sent in by one of our Yoruba readers who lives in Europe and is preparing to have her Yoruba wedding abroad. The asker wanted to know ideas to improvise things for where they cannot find some specific resources typically used during a Yoruba traditional engagement. This Yoruba bride is about to marry an Igbo man, but that doesn’t matter because she’s going to be married in a Yoruba Traditional wedding ceremony, regardless.
Since I am not Yoruba, I decided to get my Yoruba wedding planner friend, Mrs. Sunmisola Nwanze, to provide answers. She’s the most qualified person I could think of. Besides, having a Yoruba traditional engagement, which was also an inter-cultural wedding (her husband is Igbo), she has years of experience with helping couples organize a stress-free Yoruba traditional and white weddings. Swipe or scroll down to read the questions and answers.
So, over to Sunmisola (our expert of the day)…
Congratulations to the sister getting who is married. Like you, my husband is Igbo and I am a Yoruba woman. I got married in a traditional Yoruba wedding, and as a wedding planner, I have helped many Yoruba brides plan memorable customary engagement ceremonies, as well as planned the order of events in their Yoruba traditional wedding programme. So, I will just tell you how best to go about it, and there are fun ways to.
1. How long does a typical Yoruba traditional wedding (program of events) last?
The entire event typically lasts a maximum of 3 hours or less. The separate events in your traditional wedding program of events should add up to about that.
2. What is the correct order or flow of events at a typical Yoruba traditional wedding?
Here’s the correct flow/ order in the program at Yoruba traditional wedding events:
- The bride’s family is seated
- The groom’s family enters (with dancing and talking drum) and greets the bride’s family and are introduced. Then, they’re all seated opposite the bride’s family;
- The groom enters (with dancing) and greets her family, then they pray for her and bless her;
- The bride enters (with dancing) and greets her parents, then turns (with dancing) to greet the groom’s parents. They put the veil over her;
- The bride moves to greet the groom’s parents, they unveil her, and then pray for her;
- The bride moves (with dancing) to greet her groom
- Then, the bride gets seated beside her groom
- Cake cutting: Couple cut their traditional wedding cake and feed each other with cake
- Dancing time: Dancing Dancing Dancing
- Food is Served to everyone (however, small chops may be served earlier as the previous events/ marriage rites were going on, to ensure people do not get too hungry. A good time to start serving small chops is when the bride first enters the wedding venue/ hall). If the event starts early and is taking long, eating can start earlier, else you can schedule meal-time to the usual ‘after dancing’.
To see the flow of events at a real Yoruba wedding, check out the video below.
3. What Does a Yoruba Wedding Programme Look Like?
Watch the short video clip below to see a Yoruba traditional wedding in Action.
4. What is an Alaga and What’s their Role at a Yoruba Traditional Wedding?
The role of an Alaga is key and very important in any Yoruba wedding, as you’ll soon find out. You need to hire one. Simply put, an Alaga is a wedding officiant or moderator or Master of Ceremony (MC) for a customary Yoruba traditional wedding.
A good Alaga makes a Yoruba traditional wedding more fun. By the way, an Alaga knows the order and flow of events at Yoruba traditional/ customary engagement ceremonies. That is one of the reasons they are hired. You don’t need to know what the program of events should look like, your Alaga will walk everyone through it.
As part of their roles, Alagas move the ceremony from one event to another, announcing what goes on next and next – until the end.
The above is an Alaga in action, officiating a Yoruba traditional wedding while adding drama and singing as they do.
FUN TIP: Have your Alaga help you draw out the programme of events for your Yoruba traditional wedding. Alagas are pretty good at it. So, even if you or your parents are unfamiliar with the scheduling programme of events for your Yoruba traditional engagement, don’t worry, your Alaga will walk you all through it in a fun way.
Also, Alagas are also very entertaining – most sing very well and add some comedy here and there. In short, it is a must to have an Alaga at a Yoruba wedding.
5. Can I use only 1 Alaga for my Yoruba wedding?
Yes. It’s ideal and more fun to have 2 different Alagas conduct a Yoruba traditional wedding, as there will an exchange of pleasantries, details, and communication of the marriage intentions. Also, for inter-tribal or inter-cultural weddings with a Yoruba bride, two Alagas are usually used for the ceremony.
The role of the two Alaga is to coordinate communications between each family side. Alaga Iduro is the name for the groom’s family alaga and Alaga Ijoko refers to the bride’s family alaga.
If for some reason, you are not able to hire 2 alagas, it’s okay to have only 1 alaga. Many couples do it and it doesn’t spoil anything. What happens is that this Alaga would be required to play two roles interchangeably (as the bride’s family spokesperson, and also as the groom’s family alaga).
See more of an Alaga officiating a Yoruba traditional wedding (video below).
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6. Must I have a talking drummer for my Yoruba traditional wedding? What is the alternative IF I cannot find a talking drummer where I live?
An alternative to the talking drums is to get a pre-recorded African/ Nigerian Yoruba music. You can also use a keyboard/ piano that has sound effects/ beats – find someone to set it up for you. You can play either in place of a talking drum at your Yoruba traditional engagement/ wedding ceremony.
7. When should a couple change outfits to second wedding attire (during a Yoruba traditional wedding)?
For me, during my traditional engagement, I did not do change to Igbo traditional wedding attire. That was a few years ago, but these days brides are doing multiple wedding outfit changes and it’s beautiful.
The right time for a Yoruba bride to change into a second outfit is after she has worn her traditional wedding ring, and the cake has been cut. On her way out for the outfit change, she can take quick pictures with her hubby before returning back to the traditional wedding reception hall.
On her return back to the wedding venue, she should be escorted in – either her groom can dance in with her. Alternatively, she may dance in with her friends (ore Iyawo, in Yoruba language) or with her groom’s female family members.
8. Must the Groom Change to a Second Traditional Wedding Attire?
The groom does not need to do an outfit change; he may wear the same attire for the entire event.
- SEE ALSO: Latest Agbada Styles for Men and Yoruba Grooms
- ALSO: Male Wedding Guest Outfit Types and Cute Style Ideas
9. If the Groom is Not a Yoruba, Is a Second Outfit Change Necessary?
For an inter-tribal or inter-cultural wedding with a Yoruba lady, at the point when the bride changes into her second traditional wedding attire, her groom may either remain in the same first attire OR change into his own tribe’s/ culture’s traditional wedding attire.
A fun idea for a groom’s first outfit is a matching Yoruba traditional wedding attire with his bride. You can get ideas of couples’ matching traditional wedding attires in our Latest Aso-Oke Designs and Styles.
Conclusion: Order of Events for a Yoruba Traditional Wedding Programme?
That’s it on how to schedule a Yoruba traditional wedding/ engagement program. Now that you have an idea of how/ what a Yoruba customary wedding process looks like from start to finish, I hope you are confident about creating your own programme of the event.
If you’re a ‘Yoruba’ bride who is not very familiar with your culture, OR if you’re a non-Yoruba groom from other cultures of the World, hopefully, the answers above can help you schedule your own traditional Yoruba wedding/ engagement programme of events.
The above tips are also helpful for our Yoruba sisters who did not grow up at home and not familiar with how a Yoruba traditional engagement is done.
Now you have an idea of what goes on during a Yoruba traditional wedding. We will provide more helpful tips you can use to plan your Yoruba traditional wedding, hang around to see the follow-up articles.
Did we miss anything regarding the order or flow of events during a typical Yoruba traditional engagement or wedding? If so, comment below to add your own tips or simply comment to add your voice.
About Sunmisola Nwanze: Answers in this article was provided by one of our friend, Mrs. Sunmisola Nwanze. She is the CEO SHINE Events in Lagos (they travel anywhere your wedding is). As a specialist Nigerian wedding planner, Sunmisola helps brides-to-be make their wedding day dreams come true by doing all the legwork for you so that you don’t have to lift a finger and still have a glam wedding that your guests will always remember. She makes finding the best wedding vendors a snap, with her years in the business and territory, she knows the best vendors, waiters, and ushers within any budget you have. To hire Shine Events to plan your wedding, call Sunmisola on 08027736616 or 07033283595 (add country code is 234 if you’re outside Nigeria); OR Email her at [email protected]; or find her on Instagram.