Igbo traditional engagement is thought to be one of the most expensive wedding traditions in Nigeria, but with the right amount of planning and research, you can easily afford it. Here is everything you will need for an Igbo marriage introduction.
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1. What is an Igbo engagement?
If you have popped the big question to your Igbo girlfriend, you probably know that it’s only the first step to actually marrying her. The Igbo tradition dictates that the groom should first obtain the permission to get married from the bride’s family – most importantly, her parents.
After proposing to your girlfriend in person, you then need to visit her parents’ home for the initial introduction. If everything goes smoothly, the next step is taking your parents to see her parents and her extended family. If this step is also successful, the groom and his family will receive a list of things necessary for the engagement to move forward. This list will include the Ime Ego, or the bride price.
The Ime Ego is, of course, not the literal price of the woman that is about to get married, but more of a symbolic value of the bride. Ime Ego is usually a subject of lengthy negotiations and arguments between the bride’s and the groom’s families. Finally, the bride price is decided and the parties can move on to discussing Igba Nkwu, the traditional wedding ceremony.
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2. Bride price list
The content of the bride price list you will be given may differ from village to village and even from family to family. It’s important to know that you shouldn’t buy anything for the bride price list until you are officially handed the list by your bride’s family. The gifts will then be shared by the bride’s extended family. Here are the categories of goods that are often included in Igbo engagement lists:
Read more: Igbo Attire And Its Meaning
- Clothing. The most popular types of clothing to include on the list are Igbo blouses and wrappers. The blouses are usually made from lace, but the wrappers can be made from a variety of materials. If the list does not specify the type of wrappers you need to buy, go for the classic fabrics like Ankara.
- Shoes and accessories. There are no strict requirements for shoes and accessories to include in your gifts to the bride’s family. Consider the female members of the family that will receive your gifts and choose the footwear and accessories accordingly. It is highly likely that you will be also asked for gele.
- Jewelry and watches. Jewelry can be found on nearly every Igbo bride list and there are hundreds of styles you can choose from. Of course, gold and silver earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and wristwatches are also preferable, but you can also go for the more affordable gold plated jewelry.
- Food and drinks. Food and drinks are an important part of the list, as they are nearly the only items the whole family will use. The possible options for food and drink entries on the list are nearly endless: you may be asked for things like yams, crayfish, kola nuts, Guinness beer, palm oil, soft beverages, and so on.
- Toiletries. Things like shampoo, soap, body lotion, skin care products, perfume, and washing detergents are often featured on bride price lists, but they can also be very diverse, so you need to have a pretty good knowledge of this group of products or ask the bride’s family for clarifications.
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