While the date, place and even names of the beautiful couple in these photographs are unknown, it is clear that the bride and groom as well as their families and friends were all on board with the idea of a Yoruba-themed engagement ceremony. It is after this ceremony that Christian couples would go to church for the weddings while Muslims would perform the Nikai. This is an engagement ceremony, not the wedding.
I do not think this took place in Nigeria – I note the palm – even though an event like this would not be strange in Lagos or Abuja, home to many expatriates. If it had taken place in Nigeria, the couple would most likely have a sponsoring family [of sorts] who would have shown in the pictures. But then, again, there is a container of cash that looks like Nigeria’s currency in one of the photographs; still wouldn’t be out of place outside Nigeria just as “spraying” foreign currencies is a madness of sorts at Nigerian events.
Wherever this took place, it was a grand idea that turned out beautifully.
Lending seriousness of purpose to the couple’s dream of an African wedding (Yoruba style), an Alága Ìduró – the groom’s spokesperson – can be seen at the back (a Yoruba woman in Diaspora but it could also be an enterpriing Nigerian woman from other parts of Southern Nigeria who speaks Yoruba fluently. She is standing nearby as the groom prostrates perhaps for his family or his in-laws. The two families can also be seen from the different colors: groom’s family wore turquoise while the bride’s wore yellow.
There would also be present an Alágá Ìjòkó who would be the spokesperson for the bride’s family; notice the use of “spokesperson” because while the posts have traditionally belonged to women, men started muscling in once they notice how lucrative the job is; can’t blame them! Several times during the ceremony, the alagas – especially – the one that represents the bride’s family – sends collection trays round for money not just for the bride but especially for herself! Usually, these spokespersons have assistants or trainees although as I once noted on these court jesters of sorts, hardly any training is required beyond the ability to kneel constantly (Yorubas like such people), and more importantly, a gift of cunning and the garb in Yoruba language that enable them get a lot of money from invitees.
Alaga Iduro leads the groom to bride’s family
The groom prostrates in salutation to his in-laws whose hands, including the cute little girl, are stretched forth in prayers
The groom poses with his groomsmen who are attired in their own aṣọ ẹbì, complete, of course, with their fìlà. In the container is money (looks like Nigeria’s Naira) collected for the groom although generally, money collected is usually meant for the bride.
Unfortunately, there’s no photograph to show the bride’s maids whose engagement outfits could be sewn into skirts and tops or bùbá and ìró with intricately-tied gèlè. After the bride, the young ladies always steal the show at Yoruba’s engagement ceremonies.
And, finally, a photograph of the couple after the bride joins the groom which comes close to the end of Yoruba traditional engagement.
The couple wore color-coordinated Yoruba outfits: complete men’s wear, including fìlà (cap) without which a Yoruba male’s dressing is outfit is incompete been stated here time and time again. The bride is resplendent in her own complete outfit made with what looks like flowing lace fabrics. Her gèlè (head wrap; has no religious connotation but tradition) must have been tied by one of the pro gèlè experts common at event centers around Nigeria these days and in the UK and the USA, especially in major metropolises like London, Washington, D.C.,Dallas, Los Angeles … the “experts” could also combine make-up artistry as is also common in Nigeria these days.
Pictorial culled from: