6 Things to Expect in a Nigerian Wedding

Are you going to a Nigerian wedding this summer or just interested in learning about their wedding traditions? We have the scoop on what to expect thanks to Gee, Editor of Knotsvilla!

Nigerian wedding traditions Photography by Jonathan Ivy Photography

So you're attending a Nigerian wedding and wondering what it will be like? Well get ready for an eye catching and mind racing experience!

As Nigerians, we are known to a be a little bit "over the top", and trust me, that is putting it very moderately. When it comes to style, fashion and tradition we seem to go the extra mile to make a statement. Bottom line, you can't attend a Nigerian wedding and leave the same way.

Here are 6 things you can expect when you attend a Nigerian Wedding:

1. Double Outfits

Photography by Jonathan Ivy Photography Photo by Alakija Studios via Aisle Perfect

Do not be shocked when the reception begins and you can't find the big white wedding dress or the tuxedo. It's all gone! In many Nigerian weddings, the couples attempt to enjoy both the "Western" culture as well as their own culture by wearing the white dress for the ceremony and traditional Nigerian attire for the reception.

Sometimes Nigerians might also opt for 2 different weddings, the traditional Nigerian wedding and the western one, which is referred to as the "White" wedding. These two celebrations could be days or even weeks apart. In the traditional Nigerian wedding, the bride only wears traditional attire, either from her tribe, her new husband's tribe or sometimes both.

You will also probably notice a drastic change in makeup and accessories when the bride wears the traditional Nigerian attire. Because we are avid lovers of color, the makeup and accessories with the traditional attire would most likely be far from subtle, especially when the outfit is a very rich color.

2. Aso-Ebi

Aso Ebi Photo by Alakija Studios 

Aso-Ebi means "Family Clothes" in Yoruba, a Nigerian language. This is when family members of the couple, decide to wear identical colors and fabrics at an event to identify themselves. So at a Nigerian wedding you could differentiate the bride's family from the groom's family based on the colors and fabrics they're wearing. However it is also very common to see friends of the bride show up in aso-ebi too.

Usually the bride decides what aso-ebi people will wear to her wedding and announces it months before so the guests can purchase their outfits. Some prominent guests and close family members may not have to purchase it, as the bride's family may give them out as gifts.

3. Music

chop my money

Photo by  NMT Photography

As a guest new to a Nigerian Wedding, you may not know any of the songs played during the reception. The DJ might throw in a few pop songs, but you will definitely hear the likes of P-square, Flavour, Tiwa Savage and more. Hopefully, you're not like me and have a hard time dancing to unfamiliar songs. The good news though, Nigerian songs are pretty easy to pick up and will always almost get you on your feet.

Nigerians also love to have "group" dances where everyone participates. So don't freak out when you see a group of people dancing to what seems to be choreographed steps like they'd practiced at home before they came. They didn't, there are just those songs that have "their dances", think Cupid Shuffle. A few common dances would be Azonto (originally a Ghanaian dance), Chop My Money, Kukere and Skelewu just in case you want to YouTube and study ahead of time. No pressure though!

4. Spraying Money

nigerian wedding spraying money

Photo by KJ Images

So the dancing begins and you start seeing dollar bills all over the place. Fear not! Unlike the American "Dollar Dance" spraying money is not mandatory or meant to put pressure on the guests. At Nigerian weddings, the guests spray money of their own free will to show their happiness for the couple. Many times it is the older guests that do this, like the couple's uncles, aunties and other older family friends.

There is no particular time on the program allocated for family and friends to spray money, whenever the couple gets on the dance floor it's almost guaranteed that the couple will be sprayed - those rich uncles and aunts always like to show themselves!

5. Food

Jollof Rice

Photo and food by Lohis Creations

Do you like spicy food? I really hope so. You see, we Nigerians are very particular when it comes to our food and this is one of the major reasons we would rather not chose wedding venues that refuse outside food - we feel only Nigerians can do the job right. Seriously though, how many Nigerian chefs do you see here in North America?

Our foods vary from swallow (food that you don't chew, but swallow like Eba, Pounded Yam, Amala), soups (what you mix the "swallow" food with before eating) and rice (e.g Fried Rice, Jollof Rice, Coconut Rice or Plain White Rice which we eat with stew).

At most Nigerian weddings, you can also expect what we call "small chops", which are the closest things we have to what you know as "appetizers". Major ones include Pepper Soup, Suya, Puff Puff, Meat Pie and Chin Chin.

Remember to ask how spicy the food is before you fill up your plate!

6. Guest list? What's that?

nigerian wedding

Photo by Kele Akaniro Photography

Haha! Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but I will be totally honest with you, the struggle to handle a guest list at a Nigerian wedding is just too real. We come in numbers, large numbers! When I was younger, I remember my mum asking any and everyone to "accompany" her to a wedding; in most cases they were not on the guest list and didn't even know the couple.

Keeping this in mind, the wedding hosts usually prepare for what is estimated to be the "maximum possible number" in regards to favors, food, chairs and other aspects. It's common to hear that a couple confirms a guest list of 250, but about 1000 guests were actually present.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Nigerian weddings. Of course every wedding is different and unique in its own way, these are just a few things I have noticed from attending some and planning mine.

Thanks to Jasmine for inviting me to talk about Nigerian weddings on My Hotel Wedding, it has definitely been a pleasure!

About the author: I am a Nigerian blogger based in Canada and editor of the Wedding blog, KnotsVilla. My passion for weddings came after I planned my own and since blogging had always been of interest to me, a wedding blog seemed like the right direction. KnotsVilla is all about helping, inspiring and educating brides about their wedding planning. In my free time she loves to tweet and instagram wedding pretties.

12 Comments | Tagged ,
  • Shaun

    This was a fun read! You’re ABSOLUTELY right about the guest list though, I normally keep two people at the door to try and manage because the Brides insist they want to keep the guest list tight, but by hour 5 it gets a little rough.

    Also, if you’re a planner and not well versed in pronunciations, I would suggest learning some of them before you jump in and offer RSVP management for a Nigerian wedding.

    • http://www.knotsvilla.com/ Gee | KnotsVilla

      Awwww thank you Shaun! And you are absolutely right about learning the names, some of our names can be difficult and some people could take it personally if not pronounce right. lol

  • http://www.chicbrownbride.com Danielle|Chic Brown Bride

    Wow this is some good info Gee!! I’ve featured several Nigerian weddings so it’s great to read about what some of the traditions actually mean.

    • http://www.knotsvilla.com/ Gee | KnotsVilla

      Thanks boo! Glad you enjoyed reading it, now go on and cover more Nigerian weddings on CBB 🙂

  • http://www.rusticfolkweddings.com/ Charmaine (Rustic Folk Weddings)

    I love how Nigerian weddings incorporate a wide variety of bold color throughout their big day. Great insights by Gee!

    • http://www.knotsvilla.com/ Gee | KnotsVilla

      Yes yes yes! We sure love colors! Thanks for reading Charmaine, glad you enjoyed it. xx

  • http://www.dressforthewedding.com/ Sukey at Dress for the Wedding

    This is such a great piece, Gee! I have seen a few Nigerian weddings in features and picked up on a few elements, but I never knew all the details of attire, and that ever-growing guest list! These Nigerian weddings sound like such fun events to attend ( but so much detail to plan – ha!)

    • http://www.knotsvilla.com/ Gee | KnotsVilla

      I have to agree with your last line, fun to attend but a lot to plan. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Jasmine

    So happy you all enjoyed the post! It’s always fun to get a peak at the wedding traditions of different cultures. I’ve never been to a Nigerian wedding before but it sounds like a blast! A big thank you again to Gee for doing a great job putting this together for us.

    • http://www.knotsvilla.com/ Gee | KnotsVilla

      Jasmine hun, thank you again for having me on MHW :*

      • Jasmine

        You’re welcome! It was truly our pleasure 🙂

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