Marrying a Yoruba woman and have questions about the Yoruba traditional wedding program? You need to read this to know what typically happens in a Yoruba customary wedding and the order of program. You shouldn’t fly blind on your big day. Oh, and if ‘Yoruba’ wife-to-be is not so familiar about Yoruba culture and marriage rites, both of you need to read this to know what your traditional wedding programme of events will look like. In this post, I included a fun video that illustrates the order of programme at Yoruba weddings. You’ll also discover cool and fun ways to work around typical traditional elements not available in your area, especially if you live outside Nigeria. Scroll down for more.
The questions in this post was 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. Since I am not Yoruba, I decided to get my Yoruba 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), Sunmisola is a Nigerian wedding planner who has years of experience with helping couples organize a stress-free Yoruba trad and white wedding. 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. What is an Alaga?
The role of an Alaga is key, and very important in any Yoruba wedding, as you’l soon find out. You need to hire one. Simply put, an Alaga is a wedding officiant, for a customary Yoruba traditional wedding. Some people call them traditional wedding EmCees (MCs). Oh, they are usually the highlight of the adding. A good Alaga makes a Yoruba traditional wedding more fun. By the way, Alagas know the order and flow of events at Yoruba traditional/ customary engagement ceremonies – that is one of the reasons they are hired. As part of their roles, they move the ceremony from one event to another, announcing what goes on next and next – until the end. Below is an Alaga in action, officiating a Yoruba traditional wedding – #PressPlay to watch (below).
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, Alagas are a must-have.
#2. 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, 2 Alaga 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.
In a situation where the couple is not able to get 2 alagas, for some reasons, only 1 alaga is used, 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).
#3. 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.
#4. What is the correct order of these events at a typical Yoruba traditional weddding – which comes first and which comes next, with the following 4 activities: cake cutting | eating time | in-laws going to greet bride’s parents | dancing time.
Here’s the correct order in the program, for the above Yoruba traditional wedding events:
- Groom meets and greets bride’s family
- Bride meets and greets groom’s family
- Couple is seated
- Couple cut their traditional wedding cake and feed each other with cake
- Dancing Dancing Dancing
- Food is Served to Guests (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’.
#5. How long does a typical Yoruba traditional wedding (program of events) last?
The entire event typically lasts a maximum of 3 hours. The separate events in your traditional wedding program of events should add up to about that.
#6. 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 the 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.
#7. 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.
#8. If the Groom is Not Also 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 a 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.
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Conclusion: Order of Events for a Yoruba Traditional Wedding Programme?
That’s it on how to schedule a Yoruba traditional wedding / engagement programme. 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 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 their own traditional wedding day programme. Those 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 on 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 legworks 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); BBMessenger 5bfb61ff OR Email her at [email protected]
Photo Credit: Instagram/ @akintayotimi