Nuptials in Nigeria [Part III: Traditional Yoruba Ceremony!]// Adventures of a Destination Wedding Photographer

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“Nuptials in Nigeria” is a series of first accounts from American-turned-Londoner photographer and inspiration/travel writer Travis Levius.   This was his 1st time on the African continent to photograph an exciting 2-day destination wedding in Lagos, Nigeria. 

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After months of planning and preparing from the States, the time had finally come– the traditional Yoruba engagement/wedding of Busola & Ola!  Surprisingly, I was more excited than nervous to photograph this lively ceremony- much of the songs and speech would be in the traditional Yoruba language, and I was completely foreign to the customs that a Yoruba engagement entailed.  But everything came together wonderfully, reminding me why I’m so passionate about capturing multicultural weddings all over the globe.  This is Day One of two days’ worth of wedding ceremonies (the grand “Main Wedding” photos will debut next in Part IV!)

Let’s Begin!

The ceremony begins with Ola’s (the groom) deliberate, dance-happy entrance towards the main area, surrounded by a jubilant entourage of drummers, his groomsmen and other important guests. Trad Nigerian Wedding_02 Trad Nigerian Wedding_04 Trad Nigerian Wedding_05 Trad Nigerian Wedding_06 Trad Nigerian Wedding_07 Trad Nigerian Wedding_08 Trad Nigerian Wedding_09

As a gesture of respect, a Yoruba groom lays prostrate on the ground in front of the bride’s parents and elders to ask for her hand in marriage.  The groomsmen/close friends were to lay prostrate as well, but because of morning rain, there was only (dry) space for the groom. Trad Nigerian Wedding_12 Trad Nigerian Wedding_13 Trad Nigerian Wedding_14 Trad Nigerian Wedding_17

The celebration continues after family’s acceptance.  Similar to what is seen throughout the ceremony, there was singing, music and the placement of Naira bills on the “special” person of that moment. Trad Nigerian Wedding_19 Trad Nigerian Wedding_20

Soon after, the bride and her bridesmaids/important guests emerges.  Busola (the bride) looked stunning in her traditional Nigerian wedding ensemble as the group danced and sang towards the ceremony area. Trad Nigerian Wedding_21 Trad Nigerian Wedding_22 Trad Nigerian Wedding_23 Trad Nigerian Wedding_24 Trad Nigerian Wedding_25 Trad Nigerian Wedding_26 Trad Nigerian Wedding_27 Trad Nigerian Wedding_28

The bride kneels before her family as they give her their blessing and counsel. Trad Nigerian Wedding_29 Trad Nigerian Wedding_30 Trad Nigerian Wedding_31 Trad Nigerian Wedding_33 Trad Nigerian Wedding_34

The bride’s mother places the veil back on the bride, for the groom’s father to unveil his new daughter-in-law. Trad Nigerian Wedding_35 Trad Nigerian Wedding_36

More celebration!  The bride’s group dances around her in a circle, followed by a prayer for a blissful marriage. Trad Nigerian Wedding_38 Trad Nigerian Wedding_39 Trad Nigerian Wedding_40 Trad Nigerian Wedding_41 Trad Nigerian Wedding_42 Trad Nigerian Wedding_44 Trad Nigerian Wedding_45 Trad Nigerian Wedding_47 Trad Nigerian Wedding_49

A wedding letter (placed in the plaque shown below) is read to the guests and then celebrated. Trad Nigerian Wedding_51

There is a ring exchange- something that many Nigerians who choose to have a traditional and Western wedding, such as this couple, do twice! Trad Nigerian Wedding_52 Trad Nigerian Wedding_53

The bride comes together with her and the groom’s parents. Trad Nigerian Wedding_54

Guests make their way to the center of the ceremony to offer Naira bills Trad Nigerian Wedding_55

After the formalities have ended, the groom and bride meet and greet all of the family members on each side. Trad Nigerian Wedding_57 Trad Nigerian Wedding_58 Trad Nigerian Wedding_59 Trad Nigerian Wedding_61

The bride returns with a new outfit as she dances and mingles with the guests. Trad Nigerian Wedding_62 Trad Nigerian Wedding_63 Trad Nigerian Wedding_64 Trad Nigerian Wedding_66 Trad Nigerian Wedding_67 Trad Nigerian Wedding_68

I thoroughly enjoyed (and learned much) capturing this traditional ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria.  The colors, energy and revelry of it all was such a rush; however, this was a small-scale production compared to the wedding extravaganza (of 800+ guests!) that would occur 2 days later.  Check back on for the super exciting “Part IV: The Main Wedding”!! Trad Nigerian Wedding_69

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