Igbo Traditional Marriage Procedure – What You Should Know
Stage 3: Bride Price Payment (Ime Ego)
This is a very crucial stage and it involves lots of negotiations. This happens after the extended family has given their consent to the groom and his family. After which a date is agreed upon for the settlement of the bride price. This money apart from other items, is a token, and not in anyway the value of the woman.
At this stage, a list, that is a customary engagement list of items to bring along would already have been given to the grooms family. This includes the bride price and other items for both the immediate family and the extended family. And the items on the list usually differs from place to place depending on the clan.
On this day, ‘ime ego’, the groom’s father and family elders present the bride price. They may also present the engagement gifts at this time if the igba-nkwu is on the same day. In many places, the two stages are merged into one. Before the guests start coming, the both families go into a prepared place in the brides house where the bride price and gifts or items are presented. A copy of the list is read by a representative from the girl’s extended family, and the items presented according to what was requested.
This process is usually very interesting, but can also be exhausting as the bride price/ dowry, usually involves lengthy negotiations regarding the value of the bride, and sometimes there would be disagreements and begging between both families, and sometimes laughter and cheering especially if the groom does more than expected.
The bride’s family usually starts “pricing” their daughter high by amplifying her accomplishments and virtues, and then the groom’s family would present a counter offer – negotiating back and forth until both parties come to an agreement of a final amount.
Once the dowry is paid, the groom’s family would discuss the date and plans for the traditional wedding; Igba Nkwu. But in a case were the Igba Nkwu is merged, both families come out of the negotiating room to join the waiting guests. Mission accomplished!
Stage 4: Wine-Carrying Ceremony – ‘Igba Nkwu Nwanyi’
The igba nkwu is the actual D-day, and it’s celebration time. Before now, the couple would have printed and distributeds special igba nkwu invitation cards to notify guests to honour them on that day. The “Igba Nkwu” ceremony is the formal traditional engagement plus customary wedding party, and is usually done in the bride’s father’s family compound.
It is the responsibility of the bride’s family to cook and entertain both the groom’s family and the entire guests. There’s really no limit to the kind of celebration and fanfare that takes place on that day. From live band to traditional dancers etc.
The day of “Igba Nkwu” is traditionally the formal ‘wedding day.’ Also note that different Eastern states and clans within those states, may have marriage lists varying from another.
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