Ok. I know it has been a long time coming but today, I am finally ready to go into the details of my wedding. Ha!
On April 19th, 2015, my now husband proposed (Watch the proposal video here). Of course I said yes or I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Lol. In the western world, I was officially someone’s fiance but to my parents. It was more like a promise ring. My dad hilariously calls the proposal a “program”. I was not yet engaged. There first had to be an introduction of the families. Let me explain:
Though I was born and raised in the United States, I am Nigerian by birth/heritage. First generation, I might add, but that’s a story for another day. To go a little deeper, my family is Yoruba by tribe. In the Yoruba culture (I believe it is similar in other tribes) a girl does not become officially engaged/betrothed until the grooms family comes to introduce themselves and ask for the bride’s hand. This ceremony can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it. It is usually reserved for the families of both sides and close family friends but I also wanted our bridal party present (they are pretty much considered family too).
Planning cultural ceremonies can sometimes be a challenge. Particularly when it is the first time you have to do it. It’s not just a birthday party where you can wing it and do what you want. Each family/tribe/region have their own unique styles and ceremony requirements and it is very important to follow them.
The hardest part about planning the introduction was the location. I love natural light and felt that any location I used had to have as much light as possible. I was lucky to find a nice place in laurel. Not just a nice place, a lake house with a fireplace and so much natural light. Let me just throw out the fact that it was the end of March. Brrr
FYI- this event is hosted by the bride’s family and holds in the Parent’s house. If your parents are divorced (like mine) it might be easier to hold the Introduction in a neutral location e.g. close family friend’s house, restaurant, event hall or lake-house (lol).
Since it was a cultural event, the food was always going to be Nigerian cuisine. We kept it simple with Jollof rice, Iyan (pounded yam), Efo (Kale), Chicken, fish and drinks.
FYI: Don’t put this off and know your limits. If you are short on time, patience, energy or cooking ability, it is best to cater. But if your mom (or aunties) can throw down in the kitchen go ahead. Whatever you decide, keep it simple. We did a mixture of both, I cooked some e.g. the fish and Efo while I catered out the heavy stuff like rice.
The Introduction is usually limited to close family and friends. I have seen some introductions as elaborate as weddings (Wowza). The size of your list can drive everything from size of venue to amount spent on food. But always know who your key guests are. This is a time for the two families to meet. That means parents, siblings obviously. Then move on to very close aunts and uncles. This can also include those adults who were instrumental in your life journey e.g. God parents, mentors etc. My venue held 40 so I kept it small and intimate.
Quite literally, you could wear anything you want but remember this is the family’s first official impression of you.They will pretend as if they have never met you before. Ha! We chose to go modern traditional. Hubs wore a short sleeve buba & Sokoto (top & pants) and agbada (boubou) made from dry lace. I wore a peplum dress with off shoulder details made from Cord lace. I love dressing as a couple so we went with matching colors -Ivory, red and Gold.
In my culture, it is customary for the families to exchange a gift. It is a sign of friendship, acceptance and hospitality. We exchanged baskets. Often times the contents of the basket are used for prayer points. e.g. May the couples marriage be as sweet as this sugar (or honey). May their children be plentiful as this bunch of grapes etc.
FYI: you can make the basket as big or as small as you want. If you are short on time or not so creative, visit a gift shop where you can buy a pre-made basket or order a custom one. I made my own baskets with cute baskets from Michaels and some really nice fruit and goodies from Trader Joes.
Because we were not using either of my parents homes, it was important for the place to look pretty and warm. I ordered linens and tried to keep centerpieces simple, fresh and elegant. Everything was assembled across 8 tables in less than 20mins. (Video to follow this post)
This is entirely dependent on your culture and customs. For our day, we had an Alaga (MC) who represented both families and coordinated the program. She introduced the families by name, called in the groom-to-be, then ushered in the bride.
FYI: It is best to use someone who is either familiar with your family or the customs and traditions of each family side. In modern times, you could have a close relative from each side speak for the families. Helps if the person is funny or as Nigerians would say “lively”.
The program can take anywhere from 30mins to an hour. Sometimes longer if your MC is long winded *cough*. After that it is all food, pictures and merriment.
PART 2 — Stay tuned for part 2 which will include a video (YAY)