In Nigerian weddings, marriage is very important in Igbo culture, and the traditional union ceremony is not taken lightly by the families involved.
This conventional alliance of people from southeastern Nigeria is considered to be very cheerful, colorful and divided into four main sections.
The four main parts of a Traditional Wedding.
1. Marriage Inquiry is known as “Iku aka” or “Iju ese”.
Tragically, convention does not recognize the present-day kind of proposal , in which the man gets down on one knee and proposes to his lover.
The first step in a traditional Igbo wedding ceremony is for the groom to visit the bride’s immediate family, which he will be going with his father or most eldest of his family if his father is late.
“Iku aka” or “Iju ese” basically means they “came to knock or ask”, but the family is required to go with a few hot drinks and possibly kolanuts as goodwill.
The groom’s father speaks; He introduces himself to the bride’s guardian or parents, explains the reason for his visit and confidently announces that his son is fascinated by their girl and would love to marry her.
At this point, the bride-to-be is called by her guardian and asked if she knows the suitor and wants to marry him.
Her reaction at this point, decides if they would continue on the discussion or not.
2. Obtaining approval from the bride’s family, traditionally known as “Umunna”.
After the main visit, the bride’s family begins a family examination of the groom, they check their base and history (genetic diseases, bad behavior, separation, wealth, etc. are checked).
This review will determine the direction of the next meeting between the two families, because the bride’s face at this time will determine whether the future groom is so sweet that he will have to take care of the girl and her children in the future.
Moreover, it is acceptable that the groom’s family should carry out such an examination before the first visit.
The next meeting takes place between the groom’s family (up to 20 people) and the bride’s extended family, known as Umunna.
This meeting is important because the groom’s family needs to reaffirm that they are interested in the wedding, they need to give prior approval and the bride gives final approval, the conventional wedding date is set and the list of fees for the bride is sent out.
3. Negotiating and paying the bride price is known as the “Ime ego”
After the visit and approval has been given by the bride’s extended family, the groom’s family can now proceed to negotiate the bride’s fees and contributions, commonly known as “Ime Ego”, the groom’s family inquire for the engagement blessing list.” The contents of this list differs from one village to another in Igboland.
The money paid for the bride price is basically small and cannot go above N30, this is not a sign of the value of the bride. The extra blessings that have to be brought make up the bulk of the bride’s expenses. The groom’s family at this time presents everything they have purchased to the bride’s family on the agreed date or on the day of the wine ceremony.
4. The Wine-carrying ceremony known as “Igba Nkwu Nwanyi” and “Idu Uno”
Usually the last and final ceremony is carried out by the groom’s family.
Once the official wine date is set, the ceremony will take place at the bride’s house and her family will plan a massive takeover (depending on their budget) for the groom’s family and the visitors.
In addition, they invite live bands and maybe conventional artists to make the ceremony interesting.
Typically, the bride and groom wear the conventional Igbo wedding attire, which includes a twofold wrapper, ruddy coral dot accessory, and a giant headband called the Ichafu or round headband.
This time, the groom is expected to be accompanied by a larger group (including friends) and take the bride’s price list with him. He has to show the list to Umunna, along with the required items, before the ceremony begins.
Igba Nkwu Nwanyi focuses on when the bride openly identifies the man she wants to marry.
The bride’s father or eldest uncle (if the father has died) traditionally prays for the bride, blesses her future marriage, and then gives her a glass of palm wine (usually placed in a gourd) to find the man she wants to to spend the rest of her life with.
All these needs to be completed before you can say that a couple is hitched traditionally in Igboland.