Let's Talk Nigerian Weddings!
I've been pretty MIA recently but if you follow me on instagram (@rachelsomadina or @somadinablog) you'll know that this is because I was at my sister's wedding in Nigeria. I must say I don't think that you've been to a wedding until you've been to a Nigerian wedding!!
Since my now brother in law proposed to my sister on New Year's eve we've all bookmarked the wedding in our calendars. At the time, the wedding seemed absolutely ages away so now that its come and gone it feels really strange! But honestly, I don't think I've been to wedding as fun or beautiful as this EVER (although I'm probably a little bit bias).
With Nigerian weddings, we always tend to have two - what's known as the traditional wedding which takes place in the bride's hometown where a series of ceremonial tokens and blessings are exchanged from the bride's family to the new couple. This is typically followed by the conventional white wedding , much like the ones that you traditionally have in western countries.
I'm originally from Onitsha, a town in the Nigerian state of Anambra but because I moved to London when I was so young (3 y/o), up until the wedding I had never actually visited my hometown. I have been to Lagos in the past, but never to my original family home with all its history and familial connections, so having the traditional wedding here was a huge eye opener for me, not only into my family history but also into more about where I come from as an Igbo person. That's why this blog post is pretty close to home for me because many people associate traditional marriages with just pretty, colourful clothes and extravagant head ties which is why I think it is nice to offer people a deeper understanding of exactly what the ceremony represents.
The traditional wedding is broken up into three main sections (I'll try and explain them as clearly as I can (eek!) ).
The FIRST part is called the INYO UNO
This is where the groom's (Chuka) family come to meet the bride's family in her hometown (Onitsha) and state their intentions for marriage. For my sister (Rewa) this happened all the way in April and was a pretty simple meeting of the families where they got the chance to get to know each other better. After this the bride's family are given some time to come to a decision about whether or not they chose to accept the groom's family's proposal.
The SECOND part is the INU MANYA
After the bride's family have accepted the groom's offer the marriage ceremony officially happens. This happens in the brides family home and involves many ceremonial tokens, like the drinking of palm wine between the bride, groom and one of each of their siblings. I was the representative for my sister which meant trying a lot of homemade palm wine for the first time, which was pretty addictive! This was followed by a huge reception party, with loads of food, drinks and of course about three wedding cakes each representative of the three different parts of the traditional marriage, which I thought was a really nice final touch (hopefully I have some pictures, it was a super busy day and so I didn't get many photo opportunities).
The THIRD part was IDU-UNO
So by tradition the ceremony above has to be finished by 6pm after which time the brides is taken by her new husband to his home in his own town. This is symbolic way to officially show that the bride has left her parents and is now entering a new life with her husband, kind of like riding off into the sunset if you like!
Although being the official gate crashers that we, of course went to the house that same night and had a feast which after a day of running around was very much needed.
The day after Chuka's family organised a lovely outdoor event with food and drinks to act as a symbolic way to show to my family how they have accepted Rewa into their family and are looking after her. So there was a lot of dancing, a few more blessings and then lots of food!
To me, the traditional wedding was so much more deep and meaningful. Maybe because it is based on values and traditions that have been passed down through my ethnic tribal group for generations so it goes beyond the mere passing of vows much deeper to the core of what we as a people stand for. Because of this so many people are emotional tied into the wedding and it really makes it a much more personal and emotional experience for all. I am Igbo and so the ceremonial rituals we have are different to remaining two main tribes in Nigeria (Yoruba and Hausa), as each tribe has its own unique process when it comes to binding the couple together.
THE WHITE WEDDING
White weddings in Nigeria are a lot like white weddings you go to normally... except as many Nigerians do they live by the motto go hard or go home so things were slightly different. For starters there were over 3,000 guests at the Oriental in Lagos and enough food and alcohol to feed a small country, not that I didn't try to eat every last bit!
A lot of people have asked, 'does it feel different now that your sister is married?' and honestly it doesn't. I don't think that marriage should change the person that you are, you don't suddenly get a ring on your finger and act like a different person - you're still a sister or a friend its just now you're lucky enough to be with your best friend for life and of course have to get used to people like me constantly third wheeling you.
For this wedding I think pictures and videos speak much louder than words and so scroll down for some pictures of the day and a couple of the highlights.