The next few issues on our blog will be from our current Stylish Events Interns, Robert and Gemma. We set them the task of writing a blog on an area of the wedding industry that interests them and that they would like to share with our followers.
First up is a blog from Robert, who has been with us since August 2015. Robert decided to investigate the Nigerian wedding tradition – Aso Ebi. Some of you may know that our Director, Dominique, grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, so she was delighted to be able to celebrate an African wedding tradition on our blog. Over to you Robert…..
I can’t count the number of times my friends have told me that I’m going to end up marrying a Nigerian girl. I’m a British-born Ghanaian and, having lived in London all my life, I’ve grown up and made friends with many Nigerians over the years so getting married to one wouldn’t be the strangest thing ever. I actually wouldn’t mind getting married to a Nigerian, especially since I’d get to see and experience one of my favourite wedding customs – Aso Ebi.
Aso Ebi is an outfit made from matching coloured and patterned fabric that all members of a party wear at a wedding although it can also be worn at party, funerals and other social events. For ladies, Aso Ebi consists of a gele (a head wrap), a kaftan and a wrapper whilst men’s outfits consist of a fila (a cap), a kaftan and trousers. Some of the most common material used are ankara (a patterned cotton material) or lace.
Tracing its origins back to Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe, Aso Ebi was originally worn only by the family of the bride and groom as a way to easily identify the relatives of the celebrants. As time went on, Aso Ebi was no longer restricted to family members but soon extended to close friends of the bride and groom although the colour would be different. For example, the Aso Ebi worn by the bride’s family might be blue and white, while the groom’s family wears green and purple, the bride’s close friends might wear yellow and red and the groom’s close friends wear blue and orange. The colour combinations are infinite!
Unlike in the West, where suits and dresses are bought ready-made from shops, each Aso Ebi outfit is custom made for the wearer. The bride chooses the colours and fabric to be used for the Aso Ebi and then purchases several yards of the material. She then resells lengths of this material to her guests with a small profit on top which goes towards costs of the wedding and/or ‘thank you’ presents for those who buy the material. For more prominent family members and guests, or if the family is affluent enough, material is given as a gift for free. Then it’s off to your tailor to get your outfit made!
What I love most about Aso Ebi is its fusion of oneness and individualism. By wearing Aso Ebi, you visually show your support and encouragement to the bride and groom. By having each outfit tailor-made, it allows each person to impart their own individual flair and style into their outfit.
Clothing worn to African weddings have always been and will always be vibrant display of colour. And even in the sea of colours you’ll come across you can be sure that Aso Ebi outfits will always a wave of awe surging through you no matter how many different ones you see.
My internship at Stylish Events will, sadly, finish in December. This means I will begin my journey to become a fully fledged wedding planner. I certainly hope I will get the opportunity to plan lots of Nigerian weddings.