Opinion: What is “WHITE” about a wedding?

by Lucas Togan

…if we as a people refuse to do away completely with the borrowed culture of “white wedding” we should at the very least relegate it to Thursdays and promote the “real wedding”, our wedding, to Saturdays

Of the many generic things wrong with the sub-Saharan African the one irking me the most right now is the relegation of our tradition to the back burner and letting imported culture of the West take preeminence.

I was in Ado-Ekiti (The capital of Ekiti state in South West, Nigeria) penultimate weekend to witness the wedding ceremony of a close friend. He had earlier told me that he had cancelled the “white wedding” and that it was going to be only registry at the court and traditional ceremony. As expected, I had promptly asked if the lady was pregnant or whatever his reason was for cancelling the “white wedding”. As I would learn she was not knocked up. He just did not want it. PERIOD!

That set me to thinking: I am all for original, self-generated and self-involved actions. I am totally sold to people, ideas and actions that are unaffected by society, rules or norms.

I spent the entire week leading to the wedding wondering why Africans (especially those living on the continent) bother with “white wedding?” I cannot remember the last wedding I attended that I did not have to buy aso ebi. Aso ebi is a Nigerian thing, where people attending the same function (usually weddings, funerals, birthdays and the like) purchase a fabric and wear it to the function. It is usually worn by family and close friends. At weddings however, the people who wear English clothes usually include the couple, the members of the train and a few of the guests. I make bold to say 90% of the guests appear in one form of traditional attire or the other. This begs the question – what is “white” about a white wedding? Maybe the bridal gown.

Photo credit: The great wedding website information


What gnaws at me the most is not the practice in itself but the fact that our traditional wedding (the real wedding) which we understand very well is now termed “engagement” and the imported culture is called “wedding,”.

Back to my Ado-Ekiti experience. That Saturday because there was no church proceedings involved, the couple had the liberty to choose a 12pm commencement. This is obviously the same time most guests (who never attend the church for the blessings anyway) arrive to take plush seats at “white wedding” reception venues. It was a most memorable experience personally because it showcased the wealth of the Yoruba culture. Being a Saturday, most people made it to the venue. There was no expensive wedding dress to be returned for half the price (at best), instead there was an expensive lace combination that the bride can wear again to any august occasion. There was no culture war in the pictures. They picked an aso ebi that rhymed and complemented every part of the occasion. For the first time anyone in attendance who wasn’t dressed in traditional attire would have felt out of place.

What I picked from the trip is that– if we as a people refuse to do away completely with the borrowed culture of “white wedding” we should at the very least relegate it to Thursdays and promote the “real wedding”, our wedding, to Saturdays. I believe we can always make arrangement for the Man-of-God to bless our union at whatever venue we choose on Saturday (after all the good book says, “where two or more are gathered in my name there I am with them”)  where we celebrate a truly African nuptial that showcases our heritage.

There are so many things we’ve borrowed from the west and benefited immensely from but this is not and should not be one of them.

 SPARK! Let’s change it!–

“Everything has a price.”


Comments (7)

  1. Yipeeee! Finally, I get a confirmation that I'm not as quirky as my friends and family claim. I'm a firm believer of Christ and I'm an undiluted Ekiti lady. I'm also a family enthusiast, so I've a profound and reserved respect for marriage and the ceremony that institutionalizes it without compromising my values of modesty and originality

    Just yday I was gisting with some of my friends about this very "issue." I'm so with you on this but I beg to defer on the "aso ebi parole" I bet you know u don't ve to buy all the time. Esp when the fabric is not your "style" or simply ugly! Just wear what you ve.

    I think we permit the society to define our thots, actions and decisions too much. Whether u are wearing a Vera Wang dress it doesn't mean you'll ve a better marriage than the person wearing 5k lace and "aso-oke" from "Oje" market in Ibadan. The most important thing is the presence of your parents- to give you their blessings and consent. The presence of a spiritual/temporal authority "might" be necessary. And few witnesses to celebrate the moment with you.it takes a community to raise a child not attend a wedding! Whether its @ the White House Chapel or your father's backyard, the venue isn't what validates the authenticity of a marriage

    I'm yet to read that part of the Bible that says; "and Mary the beautiful bride in her swavrosky studded white gown smiled at the dashing groom… or Joseph strutted down the aisle in a jet black tux… Its wasteful if you cant "re-use" your wedding ensemble.

    Just express your individuality!!!

  2. i sincerely do hope this writer is not married but if he his,i hope he didnot have a white wedding

  3. The traditional wedding is the most important af all, at least that's the way my family see it. After my brother's 'engagement', he was told he could take his wife home if he wanted. The Church thing is just a formality.

    Plus all the aso-ebis and beautiful geles, it just too beautiful. Nowadays anyways, the traditional wedding is done on a friday and is almost as big as the reception.

  4. Wedding 4 me has always been d payment of d bride price 2 d bride's family & d signing of d court register. D rest na party.

  5. Truly, we don't have to make a huge fuss out of a "white wedding".

    I really don't like the fact that we now call our traditional weddings "engagement". Truth be told, the Traditional Wedding is recognised by God. This is because in the Bible there was never a mention of a "white wedding". All weddings recorded in the Bible were done in the homes of the Brides' parents. There is nothing that stops a couple having a Clergyman bless their union immediately after the Court wedding.

    The trend in Nigeria is for people to spend millions on a "White Wedding." If only we could promote our own culture and not the white culture.

  6. I do not subscribe to the idea of a white/church wedding. Thank God my partner feels the same way. That's btw.

    However, what irks me is this current culture of some pastors who tell their congregation they won't officiate at their weddings if it's not done 'in' the church.


  7. I'm all for the promotion of culture, and would very much like for our traditional wedding or marriage to be termed such, and not "engagement". I have heard it being called that, and it kinda sucks. However, you have to appreciate that what's white about the white wedding is the incorporation of religion into it. Like it or not, we are no longer of traditional beliefs when it comes to religion (most of us) and that takes the priority, or at the very least is as equally important as culture. So, the white wedding stays (until at least the pocket-size/economy dictates otherwise). Culture evolves bro, we can either embrace it or sulk.

    As for thursday-saturday brouhaha, the days were never set in stone.

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