Are you having an Igbo traditional wedding? Congratulations!! Iludio’s Igbo Traditional Wedding (Igba Nkwu) Checklist / Guide is just what you need. The checklist will guide you while planning your Igbo Traditional Wedding. Start at the beginning of this checklist as we guide you towards a successful “Igba Nkwu”.
NOTE: In Igboland, parents of the couple, their extended families, villagers and town’s people play active roles in traditional wedding ceremony. Also, traditional wedding activities and requirements vary by village.
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3 – 6 months before
- The groom visits the bride-to-be’s family alone and invites her over to see his family too. This visit is a familiarization visit, nothing formal.
- Notify families of engagement and ask for approval. (Optional) The groom invites the bride-to-be to meet his family formally. She will stay a few days with the groom’s family (“Mbiaru di” or “amaru ala” “wife to be visit”). This is for the groom’s family to evaluate her. This is optional where it is practicable.
- The groom visits the bride’s family with a few friends/relatives and formally asks for the bride’s hand in marriage. Go with (“mmanya ajuju”) asking wine. At this point the groom and his relatives normally will not expect the family of the bride to give them a positive or negative answer right away. They then will schedule another date to meet.
- Both families normally carry out investigation on each other to see if the families are of good character and morale standing in the society, before the next meeting. Usually an older relative(s) will be sent to investigate.
- The groom and his family visits the bride-to-be’s family. The groom’s parents or relative(s) will restate their intention that their son wants to marry their daughter. At this stage, it is expected that her family must have concluded their investigation and consultation with their daughter and should be ready to give the groom a positive or negative answer. In some communities, the bride to be is summoned before both families on the return visit and asked if she is interested in her future husband. Some of the items presented to the bride’s family by the family of groom during the return visit are kolanuts, palm wine (local brew), dry gin (optional) and soft drinks.
- The groom receives the bride list. The list is to guide you in budgeting. Do not buy the item in the list until you have received it from your in-laws. The list slightly varies from one Igbo village to another. There are different categories of the list – gift for all kindred daughters (“Umuada”), gift for heads of extended family (“Umunna”), opening the door (“N’mepe uzo” ), and the bride price (“ego isi nwanyi”).
- Plan your budget and how expenses will be shared among families and sponsors, after seeing the bride’s list. The list can be negotiated depending on bride’s family. See our How to save money on your wedding and #Funkesays: How to make a wedding budget
- Pick the date for the actual marriage ceremony called “Igba Nkwu”. Both families have to agree on the date. This is the final marriage rite. The traditional wedding is done at the bride’s.
- Notify both families of the date and confirm their approval.
- Arrange for music that will be played at the ceremony. This could involve securing a DJ, a solo artiste or a band. Include more of traditional songs in your song selection. See our wedding song list.
- Select a traditional wedding planner if you need one (optional). See #Funkesays: Why you need a wedding planner, Questions for your potential planner and #Funkesays: Here’s how to pick a wedding planner.
- Pick traditional wedding colour and attire. See #FunkeSays: Choosing Your Wedding Colours.
- Meet a printer and start the process of Invitation Card, program, souvenirs, etc.
- Research and hire a photographer and videographer. See our Tips to select your wedding photographer.
- Research and hire a caterer. The bride’s family is in-charge of food.
- Research and hire a decorator.
- Research and hire a MC. Picking MC that can speak Igbo language is important because most of the events are traditional.
- Research and hire a makeup artist and hair stylist.
- Start compilation of guests. Guest list will include family, friends and relatives from both families.
- Make arrangement for transportation.
1 – 3 months
- Collect invitation cards and start distribution to guests.
- Order your traditional attires and family attires as well.
- Check with the vendors to remind them and make initial payment.
- Start purchase of all the items on the Bride Price List.
- Order traditional wedding cake.
- Confirm all transportation plans.
- Arrange with elders and friends that will deliberate on the Bride Price list. This is the most important assignment, so you will need good negotiators with experience.
2 – 4 weeks before
- Confirm details with all vendors = caterer, photographer etc.
- Have final fitting and adjustment of traditional wedding attires and dry clean.
- Meet and discuss seating arrangement.
- Confirm that items on Bride price list are complete.
- Compile and carry list of all vendors with contact information.
- Setup a meeting with both families and sort out details, seat arrangement, arrival time, etc.
- Meet with the MC to discuss quest list and program of event.
- Appoint an assistant to oversee vendors. Handover vendors contact information to him/her.
1 week before
- Make arrangement for a reliable person(s) to collect cash sprayed on that day.
- Have final beauty treatment.
- Make final payments or set aside remaining payments to be made to vendors on the traditional day in envelopes and hand over to the assistant.
- Go over the details in case something hasn’t been handled.
Day before wedding
- The negotiators you have selected will head to the bride’s place for the marriage rites. This is the marriage proper. All marriage rites will be concluded including bride price (“ego isi nwanyi”). When the bride’s family is satisfied that the items in the bride price list are settled, then tradition wedding ceremony (Igba Nkwu) will officially be allowed to hold the next day. NOTE: This can be done on the day of Traditional wedding depending proximity factor.
- Enjoy your time with friends and family. Get some rest and sleep early. If you have followed this checklist judiciously, then you have nothing to worry about. Have dinner with the family, close relative(s) and friend(s).
- Ask the assistant to contact all vendors to remind them and ensure they deliver as planned. All the vendors should be reminded and time of arrival emphasized.
- Review any possible initial contingency plans.
On traditional wedding day
- Wake up early, relax and remain calm.
- Take some cash because at some point you will be required to give out money. Be prepared for this.
- Get dressed at least 2 hours before.
- Have fun, smile, be calm, dance. Make it memorable. It only happens once.
- Depart together as you are now married traditionally. The husband will leave with his (“nwanyi ofuru”) new wife.
- If there is no white wedding, the bride’s family will give her sendoff gifts.