Abby + Maxwell – Traditional Nigerian Wedding Ceremony, Toronto

This was our first Nigerian wedding and we sincerely hope it was not our last!  Abby & Maxwell’s wedding was incredible and surreal. It was an honour and a special treat to be invited to photograph the very traditional event with all it’s ceremonies, colours, song and dance. What a happy affair! Thank you Abby and Maxwell for the priviledge of experiencing your culture!

Below is a brief explanation of the traditional Nigerian marriage process.  Unfortunately, the pictures that follow only depict a small portion of the festivities as we only had the opportunity to photograph for a few hours on the day of the traditional wedding itself.

We hope you enjoy learning about the Nigerian culture as much as we did!

A Traditional Nigerian Marriage:

When a man is interested in a woman, he will let his family know and the family will then carry out an “investigation” of the woman and her family (who the parents are, what they do, whether they are divorced, etc). Once she passes muster, the next step is for the man’s family to observe what is literally translated as “knocking of the door”. During this ceremony the groom’s family introduce themselves to the bride’s family and asks for their daughter’s hand in marriage for their son. The groom’s family would have an appointed speaker who could either be a family member or senior in the community.

The woman’s parents accept the request and also carry out their own “investigation”. They find out if their daughter is interested in anyone else or if someone else is courting for her hand in marriage. If the “investigation” of both son and daughter comes up positive, they alert the man’s family as to the availability of their daughter for marriage. The man’s family then sets aside a date for the next phase of the process, literally translated as “asking”.

In the “asking” phase, again the man’s family visit the woman’s family only this time the woman’s family is also represented by the senior members on their side. The man’s family usually begins by offering some bottles of liquor to “open the mouth” of the soon-to-be father-in-law. The father-in-law then asks why they have come (he already knows but this makes the process fun). The man’s family presents their case, eat some food and leave with a wedding list which is a list of gifts expected of the man’s family which includes a dowry (bride price). A wedding date is also set at this stage.

On or before the wedding date, the man’s family should have fulfilled all the items on the wedding list. Such a list might include items such as clothes, money, drinks, etc.

On the actual wedding day, the man arrives at the woman’s family compound with his entourage of guests.  Upon arrival, the man’s family and friends are invited for some food after which they take their seats. Foods and drinks are also presented to the entire audience.

After refreshments, the woman’s family then asks why the man’s family is there. The man’s family will say something like “we saw a beautiful cow some time ago here and have come to take her home”. The woman’s family feigning ignorance will then bring out a cow to which the man’s family says they actually meant a lovely lady. Typically, the woman’s family will then bring out 2 different women both of which are turned away by the man’s family before the bride is brought out to cheers and jubilation.

Shortly after the bride is found, she is given a glass of wine to officially introduce everybody to her husband by giving him the wine to drink and he will do same, signifying that they have accepted each other and are aware of the ceremony. She brings out the groom and dances with him while the audience throws money on them.

After this, the bride takes her husband to her family with a glass of wine for their blessings and prayers and the groom does the same.  Both parents accept the wine, drink all of it and offer them their blessings.

Once the “latest couple in town” takes their seats, gifts are presented and the couple then dances together again while the audience friends and families come out to “spray (the equivalent of throwing flowers in the western world)” money on them.

We hope to cover wedding traditions from around the globe and look forward to taking you all around the world with us!

With excitement and new goals,