When the Forest Meets The Water- Traditional Ijaw Wedding Ceremony in Nigeria

Brianna Kozlarek / Thursday December 5, 2019

Nigerian weddings are always a  huge fave #onPerfete for so many reasons; I mean do you see this traditional Ijaw wedding? For starters, there's such vibrance in our cultures that it's hard not to swoon

Nigerian weddings are always a  huge fave #onPerfete for so many reasons; I mean do you see this traditional Ijaw wedding? For starters, there’s such vibrance in our cultures that it’s hard not to swoon. For another, the meaning behind these cultural ceremonies run root-deep and it’s always beautiful to see the co-mingling of love and culture. Today’s featured fête is the traditional Ijaw wedding ceremony of Ebitimi and Ifeanyi. Themed, “When Forest Meets Water,” the multicultural event featured so much we can be inspired from. We’ll let Bride Ebitimi do the sharing…

When Anambra (Forest) meets Bayelsa (Water)! My husband is from Anambra and I’m from Bayelsa and since we couldn’t have the ceremonies in our respective hometowns we decided to have the theme represent that. Lots of blues and greens yet it was traditional and fresh! Our planner Gozie of Coker Creative, did an amazing job bringing it to life along with help from the super talented @saraoevents. They went all out and delivered on their interpretation of our Forest meets Water theme and the pictures don’t even do it justice.

Nigerian weddings are always a  huge fave #onPerfete for so many reasons; I mean do you see this traditional Ijaw wedding? For starters, there's such vibrance in our cultures that it's hard not to swoon

About the Outfits:

One of our favorite aspects of traditional Nigerian Ijaw wedding ceremonies is the fashion! I honestly feel couples look even better in their cultural wear. We especially love the fabrics at this wedding because of the meaning behind them. Ebitimi shares:

All fabrics used (except the green matching outfit which was a gift from my new family) were fabrics that used to belong to my late mother. During the wedding prep, I discovered she had so many fabrics which I felt were like a gift to me! It was quite emotional to know she bought them herself and kept them maybe thinking about her daughters. Using them for my outfits was a special way of keeping her with me on the day. Also Odio Mimonet used to make all my late mums outfits so all my wedding looks were truly rooted and made with love.

About the Ijaw Wedding Decor:

For the decor, the pool was covered with plexiglass to create a dance-floor. Marshes are extremely common in riverine areas and this featured in the design in a pretty way. To further enhance the design @saraoevents added florals and greens to our covered pool.

For our reception

 

 

About the Ijaw Wedding Ceremony:

So Ifeanyi’s family (led by the Igwe of Obosi) and friends walked down from their house (which coincidentally happened to be on the next street) to come and collect their beautiful bride, aka me. It was such a large entourage!

One of the marriage rites of the Ijaw people is the presentation of fake brides. Maidens are presented to the grooms family to unveil; this is to make sure that the groom knows his bride. If he fails he pays a fine.

In one of the pictures I am being placed under a makeshift veil made using our traditional George material and an umbrella. Ifeanyi had to guess it was me (which was quite obvious due to the fanfare as I was ushered in by maidens and friends). When he guessed right, the negotiation of the bride price began. In the Ijaw traditional ceremony, the bride is not expected to smile until she has been sprayed with a lot of money by the groom and his family. This is because she is expected to be sad to ‘leave’ her family home until it is certain the next family can take care of her. Hence the money and my frowning face! I did not smile until I saw the dollars!

At the end of the ceremony after the negotiation was done, I changed to match new family’s color, we were prayed for by my father and then we cut the cake. After this Ifeanyi took me home…literally. We walked back to his family home and just before we arrived he lifted me and carried me through the gates into our second reception (designed by my talented new sister-in-law Kome), where we were welcomed by family and friends. The cultural ceremony is then concluded with my husband’s father’s blessings after which we change and party!