Honoring Ancestral Roots: The Traditional Nigerian Wedding

By  Tommy Peske
Updated on 04/12/24
Honoring Ancestral Roots: The Traditional Nigerian Wedding

Honoring Ancestral Roots: The Traditional Nigerian Wedding

By  Tommy Peske
Updated on 04/12/24

Part of the Wedding

Honoring Ancestral Roots: The Traditional Nigerian Wedding

By  Tommy Peske
Updated on 04/12/24

If you or your partner are Nigerian, hosting a Nigerian traditional wedding is a wonderful way to revisit cultural roots and honor your ancestors.

A Nigerian wedding is full of life, joy, and many interesting and exciting traditions. Whether you plan to host a fully Nigerian wedding, or you plan to incorporate ancient traditions into a modern Western wedding, either option guarantees your day will be unique and extra special. And who doesn’t want their wedding to be extra? 

There’s much to learn about the Nigerian wedding, so let’s get started.

Main Differences Between a Traditional Nigerian Wedding and a Western Wedding

A Nigerian wedding looks quite different from a Western wedding. The attire is bright and colorful, and many rituals and customs take place, bringing together the couple’s families. 

However, a Nigerian wedding places a lot of emphasis on honoring culture, traditions, and customs, and the couple’s families often oversee a large part of the traditions and cultural acts — which means the couple may have little control over their own wedding. This contrasts starkly with Western weddings, wherein the bride and/or groom are front and center, with their wants and needs put first. 

Unfortunately, also, outside of Nigeria, a traditional wedding is not considered valid in the eyes of the law. Therefore, even if you plan a traditional Nigerian wedding, you’ll still need a Western-style ceremony for a legal marriage.

Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba Weddings

Experts estimate there are an incredible 382 different tribes located in Nigeria. Each tribe boasts its own set of unique Nigerian wedding traditions. That said, many Nigerian weddings honor the traditions of one of the three largest tribes: the Igbo, Hausa, or Yoruba.

Here are some distinct differences between the three and their weddings.


Igbo weddings stand apart from other Nigerian weddings with their wine-carrying ceremonies. 

While the bride changes into a new outfit during the event, the groom will hide among the guests. When the bride is ready, her father offers her a cup of wine. Then, after a sip or two, she must take the cup in hand and seek out her groom. When she finds him, she offers him the remainder of the wine.

Igbo grooms also wear a red cap and clothes made from a special fabric called “Isi agu,” featuring a lion’s head.


Hausa is Nigeria’s largest tribe. Hausa wedding culture dictates the groom provide a house for him and his spouse to live in, but then for the bride’s family to furnish it.

Hausa grooms wear a woven hat called a “fulan.” Hausa brides host a special women’s-only event called a “wuni,” wherein the bride and other female wedding party members adorn their feet and hands with intricate henna patterns.


Traditional Nigerian Wedding
During Yoruba weddings, you might observe the groom and his groomsmen prostrating (or lying face down on the floor). 

Beyond this tradition, Yoruba customs require the bride to select the most important gift the groom’s family will give to the bride’s family. The gift must be symbolic and faith-related, and might be a Bible or Quran.

Nigerian Wedding Ceremonies: Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who Traditionally Pays for a Nigerian Wedding?

The couple’s parents traditionally pay for the wedding. However, sometimes the couple will contribute a significant amount, too.

  • What are the Three Types of Marriage in Nigeria?

While there are around 382 tribes in Nigeria, there are three types of weddings based on the country’s three largest tribes: Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba.

  • How Long is a Traditional Nigerian Wedding?

A traditional Nigerian wedding lasts two days and typically takes place over a Friday and Saturday. The first day is the cultural wedding celebration, and the second day is the legal ceremony.

  • Do Nigerians Pay a Bride Price?

Nigerians pay a bride price to the bride’s family to show honor and respect. This gesture is also a demonstration that the groom is financially capable. The bride price consists of food, household objects, property, money, or livestock.

  • Do You Bring a Gift to a Nigerian Wedding?

Guests do not typically bring gifts to a Nigerian wedding. Instead, guests participate in the “money spray,” showering the newlyweds with money. 

Is a Traditional Nigerian Wedding Right for You?

A Nigerian wedding is a colorful, fun, and deeply symbolic affair, and it’s not difficult to incorporate elements of a traditional Nigerian wedding into a more modern event. Whether you choose to hold a money spray, wear traditional attire, or pay the bride price, doing so can honor your ancestry in your own unique way.

To learn more about different wedding cultures and customs, check out our other articles on TheGroomClub. From ideas for non-religious ceremonies to gender-inclusive events, we cover it all and more.

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