In Nigeria, usually three types of weddings occur: court weddings, church weddings and traditional weddings. These weddings take place at different places and most couples actually do all the three depending of course, on their financial state. Generally, court wedding takes place first, then the church wedding then the traditional wedding ceremony. They are normally characterized by different colors and dancing and music.
Customs vary from one part of Nigeria to the other with the traditional weddings. Like in the Western parts they refer to it as the engagement ceremony. Usually elders and officials drink wine while inviting the couple for introductions and negotiations. Negotiations include presentation of the bride price (dowry), consisting also gift of shoes, jewelry, bags and textile. Then, festivity and fun follows. On the other hands, the Eastern parts of the country somehow follows the same tradition adding a little more activities. Elders from the bride and groom gather into a room to negotiate on the dowry. After this, gifts are presented to the bride’s family then the bride with her entourage of girls is presented to the groom, the groom’s family and to the guests.
Talking about traditional weddings, the following are the top 5 Nigerian traditional wedding dresses.
Nigerian Wedding Dresses
1. Aso Oke
Aso Oke (read as Ah-Shaw-Okay) means top cloth. These are the dresses woven by the Yoruba men in Nigeria. Men’s aso oke dresses are called agbada. We have to understand that there are 3 main types of aso oke dresses: Alaari, Sanyan and Etu. Alaari are the red ones; Sanyan which are usually brown or light brown aso oke dresses; Etu, the dark blue aso oke dresses.
Aso Oke dresses are worn throughout the southwestern part of Nigeria during their weddings. Women’s aso oke garments usually consist of 4 parts: the Yoruba blouse called “Buba”, the wrap skirt called “Iro”, the head tie called “Gele”, and the shawl or shoulder sash called “Iborun” or “Ipele”. Mean typically wear agbada and trousers called “sokoto”.
Ankara is actually one of the cheapest traditional fabrics which is made by using Indonesian batik making techniques. It has tribal-like patterns with bright colors. Unlike Aso Oke which are used specifically for weddings and other occasions, Ankara are also used for everyday wear.
3. Aso Ebi
Aso ebi means “uniformed solidarity dress”. These dresses are known for their association with weddings and other special occasions. It is the oldest and most valuable type of African attire. They are like uniform dresses worn by family members during weddings and other special events in Nigeria.
Basically, Aso ebi serves a number of functions. First, it ensures continuity in relation to the use and production of the previous clothing – the aso oke. Second, it helps visitors identify the wife/groom/celebrant’s family members or those who belong to the same social or religious group with groom or the bride,or the celebrant. Third, it is used not only by Nigerians but the rest of the African countries too.
Weddings are the major events to use aso ebi but they can also be used in any general or official occasions.
4. Jewel by lisa
Jewel by lisa is a luxury dress with a mix of modern and traditional design. It was the first one to embellish Ankara with sequins, swarovski crystals and beads.
Jewel by lisa is among the fabulous African dresses which can be used in weddings. They are women’s wear and accessories collection which are becoming the most prominent Nigerian luxury brand with its careful attention to details and quality craftsmanship.
5. Bella naija
Like the other traditional wedding dresses, bellanaija adds beauty in a wedding. It is used in many Nigerian weddings as aso ebi dresses. Below are bellanaija dresses used in Nigerian weddings.