Yoruba Traditional Marriage

Marriage is an essential institution in the Yoruba culture and history.  Yoruba tribe is one of the three major tribes in Nigeria.  Their wedding ceremony have always been colorful and very festive.  Families and friends are dressed in their brightest and best attires.

Yoruba man usually purse his traditional Yoruba woman by direct approach or by approaching member of the bride’s family or any other way they deemed fit.  Once they agreed that they love each other and will like to take the relationship to the next stage, they will both inform their parents.  The consent of the bride’s family is important and the groom and his family are usually happy to have that consent.  Yoruba traditional marriage entails two stages which are introduction and engagement.

The introductory stage entails the groom family introducing themselves to the bride’s family and making their intension known that they wants their daughter’s hand in marriage to their son.  This is usually done through an intermediary called Olopa Iduor (appointed speaker for the groom side) and Olopa Ijoko (appointed speaker for the bride side).

The ceremony takes place in the bride’s house and they are responsible for all the preparations and costs.  Before the groom’s family enters the bride’s home, they kneel to show the bride’s family respect.  Promptness to the bride’s house is of utmost importance.  If the groom is not punctual, the family may be asked to leave or may be asked to pay a fee.  The Olopa Iduor and Olopa Ijoko sit at the middle while the two families sits at the opposite side of each other.  Once everyone is introduced, a proposal letter is presented to the bride’s family by Olopa Iduor who reads it aloud and in return, an acceptance letter is given to the groom’s family by Olopa Ijoko and a date is fixed for the engagement ceremony

The engagement ceremony is also held at the bride’s house.  During the engagement ceremony, the groom’s family are expected to bring the items listed in the marriage list given to them by the bride’s family.  Items listed in the bride’s letter depends on each family but usually include such things as yam, goat, box of clothes, salt fish drink, wine, rings and other items deemed necessary.  Some Yoruba culture accepts dowries at the engagement ceremony.  Dowry payment may be in form of goods but consists of money most of the time.  Reason for dowry payment is to test the patience and endurance of the groom and compensation of the bride’s family for raising her.  The bride and groom exchange rings and vows and are pronounced husband and wife thereafter.

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