Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony – Igbeyawo


Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony
The Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony, also known as the Yoruba Engagement ceremony, or Igbeyawo in Yoruba, usually takes place days, weeks or even months before the white wedding ceremony. Some families choose to hold both weddings on the same day. The bride’s family is typically responsible for covering the ceremony costs, but some families choose to split the costs as they please. The entire ceremony is orchestrated by two representatives who are chosen or hired by each side of the family. The groom’s family is represented by the Alaga Iduro/ Olopa Iduro (standing policeman), while the bride’s family is represented by the Alaga Ijoko/Olopa Ijoko (sitting policeman).

Here Comes the Groom

The Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony usually kicks of with the bride’s family seated and waiting for the groom’s family to arrive. Both the groom and bride are absent at this point. Once the groom’s family arrive, the Alaga Ijoko welcomes them at the gate in the company of the the housewives of the bride’s side of the family. The Alaga then asks the groom’s family to state their reasons for coming before collecting an entry fee from them. Finally, she introduces them to the bride’s family before some prayers are said. After the introduction, the groom’s family kneel and prostrate before for the family of the bride. The two families then sit at opposite sides of the room, while the Alagas sit or stand in their midst.

Once seated, the Alaga Iduro presents the proposal letter to the Alaga Ijoko on behalf of the groom’s family. This letter is read out loud by a younger female representative of the bride’s family, such as the younger sister or cousin. An acceptance letter is then presented to the groom’s family before some prayers are said.


After the prayers, the groom dances in with some of his friends, and prostrates a total of four times. On the first two occasions, he prostrates for his new in-laws with his friends, before prostrating before them alone the third time. During this third prostration alone, the two families stretch out their arms to pray for him. Before he takes his seat, he prostrates one final time with his friends, but this time around, before his own family. He then gives out some money before taking a seat while awaiting his bride’s arrival.

Here comes the Bride


Once the groom is seated, the veiled bride dances in accompanied by her parents and Ore Iyawo, who are usually some close female friends and female family members. She then kneels before her parents, who pray for her and bless her. She does the same thing with her husband’s parents, before taking off her veil and joining her husband. On getting to her husband, she kneels before him while prayers are said for both of them. He then gives her some money, before carrying her up for all to see.  At this point, the yoruba bride puts the groom’s fila (cap) on his head to signify an accepted marriage proposal.

The Engagement Gifts – Eru Iyawo


Engagement gift packaging by wedding solutions company, I do Weddings Nigeria

Once the couple is seated, the Alaga Ijoko then asks the bride to select one of the many engagement gifts (eru iyawo) brought by the groom’s family.  The Eru Iyawo usually contains lots of food, and each item has some significance. At a yoruba traditional wedding ceremony, the bride is expected to select the Bible/Quran from the Eru Iyawo. This religious book will have her engagement ring attached to it. The bride gives her husband the ring, which he places on her finger for her to display happily to everyone.The groom’s family also present the bride price and fees requested to the family of their new wife.

Cutting The Engagement Cake – Akara Oyibo


Wedding Cakes by Panari Cakes

No yoruba traditional wedding ceremony is complete without the Engagement cake (Akara Oyibo). This special cake is crafted to depict some elements of the Yoruba culture, e.g a talking drum, calabash, fruits or a cake topper of the bride and groom in their traditional yoruba attire. The cutting of this cake and sharing of the cake between  the bride and groom is a pretty important step in the wedding . After cutting the cake, the bride’s family formally hand over their daughter to the groom’s father in the presence of everyone. Finally, the groom’s family come out as a group to thank their in-laws for giving out their daughter before the final prayers are said and the celebrations begin.

If you want to learn more about other aspects of the Yoruba wedding culture, then check out these articles –Yoruba Traditional Wedding Attire and Yoruba Engagement List . You can also browse stunning photos of Yoruba Traditional wedding brides and grooms in our Photo Gallery.

Photocredit – www.forstylesake.com

About Sayo C.

Sayo is the Editor of Wedding Feferity. She is very passionate about improving the way Nigerian Weddings are planned and celebrating our wonderful culture.


  1. ds is luvin

  2. I wish the Yorubas would stop calling a full fledged [beautiful] WEDDING an engagement!

    Before colonialism [before Christianity], and before Usman Dan Fodio [before Islam], were the Yoruba weddings not referred to as weddings [in local language]?… and not engagement?!!!

    Why the demotion?

    • Hello Chinelo…Thanks for your comment. You raised an interesting point. You know I actually was not aware it was only Yoruabs who used the word engagement instead of Traditional wedding. To be fair, most call it traditional wedding / trad wedding, and those that call it engagement don’t think much about it. They just use the words used by people around them.

      I’m not sure it matters much what we call it though. Those that call it engagement are not any less proud to be Yoruba / Nigerian than those that who call it traditional wedding. What it is called does not also determine the longevity of the actual marriage at hand.

      I do understand where you are coming from. Preservation of our roots, history and culture is very important, but I don’t think calling it a wedding will make the event more original or authentically Nigerian. Case in point, people who have non-nigerian names. The Marys and Johns are no less Nigerian/Yoruba/Igbo that the Tundes and Chinwes. It is not a cultural demotion to name your child a non-nigerian name – it’s just a matter of preference.

      Let me know your thoughts!

      • In response to both of you, thank you Sayo C. for your response and thank you Chinelo for your comment. Usually when people bring up the engagement vs. traditional wedding argument, I just give the simple definition of “an agreement to be married” for the word engagement. The groom’s family is asking for the daughter’s hand in marriage, from the bride’s family. They agree, which constitutes an agreement to be married, or an engagement. So it is, in part, an engagement – having to say yes. Both terms are fine and like Sayo C. said, people who use the term probably don’t think that much of it. I think we should focus on what comes out of it, rather than a ceremony that initiates it.

        • I hate that people call this the “traditional” ceremony when its really not. This is an amalgamation of the traditional Yoruba courting and marriage process that has developed in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just shouldn’t be called traditional.

          Traditional marriage process here: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Yoruba.aspx

  3. This is true, lovely expanciated

  4. banjoko says:

    ℓ really like dos comment on both side O̶̷̩̥̊͡f wedding Α̲̅πϑ engagement…..D̶̲̥̅̊ fruit O̶̷̩̥̊͡f D̶̲̥̅̊ wedding ɪ̣̝̇ƨ̣̣̣̇̇̇̇ children if they like they should use yatch or ship as their wedding reception if @ D̶̲̥̅̊ end their ɪ̣̝̇ƨ̣̣̣̇̇̇̇ no children…..hmmmmmm M̶̲̥̅γ̲̣̣̥ brother Α̲̅πϑ sister its J̶̲̥̅̊u̶̲̥̅̊ƨ̣̣̣̇̇̇̇τ̣̣̥ futile….make God bless our union

    • Hello Banjoko. We all pray to be have fruitful marriages blessed with children. This is not always the case for all marriages, but they are no less blessed than those with children.

  5. welldone,more wisdom.pls am yoruba but i love to use igbo George as my wrapper(pepper red) with buba lace(gold),pls what do u think.thanks

  6. Kehinde says:

    Hello everyone!! So I’m Yoruba but I’m getting married to an American and I would like to combine the traditional and the white in one wedding. I was wondering if this can be done and if so any suggestions on how to go about it? Thanks!!!

    • Hello Kehinde

      Yes, this can definitely be done. It’s quite popular these days as well. The Traditional takes place first before the white wedding ceremony (christian or muslim), and then finally the wedding reception. Most people hold all the events in the same venue (sometimes different halls on the same premises) in order to make the day more convenient for their guests and themselves. These ceremonies also start quite early (as early as 8 am) in order to accommodate all the events. I hope you found this useful

  7. Hello,

    I am doing my traditional in London in August.

    My mother is demanding a proposal letter although the introduction and trad will be done on the same day, in august – is this meant to come before then?

    My aunt was also talking about something called a mommy mo moi??

    All my family is in the UK and all my fiancees is in Nigeria – can you help with what is meant to happen before in the introduction??

  8. Kudos to Sayo C! Hapi to be here.

  9. Pls Sayo C, I av d questn concernin my nikkah dt is near. Av choose to go for green nd orange for my Aso oke meanwhile I love white a colour,so ao sud go wit it? As in d combination

  10. @ debkem u can go for a white handcut lace for buba with touch of green stones then have ur aso oke as orange background embroided in green and white or white background embroided in green and orange

  11. mike ojo says:

    We just want something very small and unique traditional engagement. Ideally we would like one alaga and just the family consent of the marriage through prayers/blessing in a small setting containing about 50 people maximum. Reception of the quest in the same setting. how can will achieve this? suggestion comment advice welcome please

  12. I really need proposal and aceptance letter sample..i dont know what to write

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