Esan (Edo) Traditional Wedding Guide

1.      You have to inform your parents and other elderly members of your family of your intention to marry this woman, and then messages are exchanged with her family to decide on a day for the introduction. This is called Ivbuomo amongst the Esan, which means ‘seeking a bride’. Traditionally, this is the time for each family to conduct any investigations concerning diseases, mental illness and criminal tendencies in the other family.

2.     Prepare: Buy kolanuts: 40 or more and drinks- spirits, palm wine, and non-alcoholic drinks to give to your future in-laws as gifts. You may also choose to take yams and plantians. Choose a male spokesman from amongst your family who understands tradition and knows how to negotiate terms.

If an Edo woman has captured your heart and you want to marry her, you are a lucky man indeed.

Edo state is at the centre of the ancient Benin Empire and is very rich in culture and tradition.

When you go seeking the hand of an Edo woman in marriage, you’ll want to know what to expect, especially if you are not Edo. If you are not prepared, you may have to pay multiple visits until the requirements are met, before you can proceed with the wedding. With official guide to marrying an Edo woman, you will be ready in no time.

Note that there are different ethnicities in Edo state, mainly the Bini, Esan and Afemai.
There may be variations in the process depending on ethnic group, village and even family, but this guide covers what you can typically expect when you want to marry an Edo woman.

The Introduction

3.     After arriving and exchanging greetings, you and your family (groom’s family) will be seated on one side of the room, and the bride’s family will be seated opposite. The bride’s family will present your family with kolanuts and drinks to welcome you. It is unrushed: Kolanuts will be broken and eaten. Then the groom’s family spokesman will stand and declare the purpose of the visit- to seek their daughter’s hand in marriage. He will present the gifts of Kolanuts and drinks at this point.

4.     The bride’s father or his representative will then call your intended bride-to-be and ask if she knows your people. He will inform her of your proposal and asks if he should accept the kola and drinks, i.e. if she wants to marry you. You better be in her good books that day because if she says No, it’s all over. No wedding. If she says yes, joy! The bride’s family will now accept your proposal and give you a list, then serve everyone food and drinks.
The List

5.     This is the part that makes some men panic before they even see it but don’t worry, the list is not at all extravagant. The Edo people are considerate and the list is purely symbolic and for traditional rites- never a payment- because the bride is not an article for sale.

The list varies widely, but these are some of the items you may find on your list:

1 Holy Bible
1 Umbrella
28 tubers of yams (4 piles of 7 yams each)
20-25 litres of palm oil
Wrappers: anywhere from just 6 yards each for the bride’s parents to a suitcase of wrappers
Drinks: A jar of palmwine
Two bottles of Schnapps
Crates of malt drinks
Cartons of beer
A carton of wine to be held by the groom
A bag of salt
Money: A small amount as the official bride price: Sometimes N24, other times N1500
N5,000 cash for the bride’s mother
N3,000 cash for the bride’s father
N9,000 cash for the men in bride’s lineage
N6,000 cash for the women bride’s lineage

In some instances, you may also find:

A bag of rice
A bottle of honey
A packet of sugar
Bush meat

In all, many men who have married Edo women have said the items rarely ever cost up to N200,000.

If you are prepared for this, make sure you tell the bride’s family, and try to fix a date for the traditional wedding so that everything is concluded in one trip.

The Traditional Wedding

6.     It takes place in the bride’s family house. Your bride will be dressed in the beautiful traditional attire of the Edo people. The ceremony is anchored by the Okaegbe- the eldest male or head of the bride's family. Kolanuts and palm wine are presented to guests, followed by lots of food and drinks. The bride price will be paid to the bride's family. The custom is to give them a lot more, but they will only take what is customary and return the rest, urging you to use it in your new marriage. The bride will be placed on her father’s lap at some point, and prayers are offered. During the ceremony, 'fake brides' are brought to out by the older women of her family and you will be asked to identify your real bride. If you are successful, she is presented to your family. When the ceremony is over, the Ovbioha i.e new bride is escorted in a procession by her friends and family to her husband’s house.

After the Wedding

7.      Your family and friends should be making merry and eagerly awaiting the arrival of your bride. Don’t be surprised when you receive a message that there are obstacles or Ughunghun preventing your bride from entering her matrimonial home. They will tell you how much it will cost to remove the “obstacles” and you go ahead and give it.

If you are also Edo and very traditional, an older woman happily married into your family will wash the bride's hand and feet in a bowl with money and wipe them with a new head tie. These will then be given to the bride.

Congratulations! She is now yours to cherish forever. Get your marriage registered if you haven’t already done so. It is up to both of you and your families whether or not to have a white wedding.

Editor -In -Chief/Publisher

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