Are you planning to marry an Igbo woman and wondering about how much the bride price and traditional engagement list will cost? Forget everything they told you or that you can’t afford to marry an Igbo woman, because most of those rumours are blatant lies.
The Igbo traditional engagement list for marriage is not as overwhelming or more expensive than other parts of Nigeria as people tend to make it, and you can find out right here.
In this post, you will get to know the items that make up the customary Igbo traditional marriage and bride price list (or dowry).
For many grooms planning a marriage introduction, they’re stressed because they want to save up or budget for ‘the engagement list’, but they do not (yet) know the things in the list.
Also, most men are scared to formally request for it (the list) without first getting an idea or ‘expo’ of how much they can spend on their Igbo traditional engagement list, for fear that it may be beyond them (cost-wise).
If you’ve ever felt that way, this post will give you all the information you need in advance to make an estimate or know how much your Igbo traditional marriage ceremony would cost.
The aim of providing this sample Igbo engagement list is to guide you in budgeting, and please do not buy them until you officially ask and receive it from your in-laws.
The Igbo custom requires a man to ask and collect ‘the list’ by himself. Note also that the items inside an Igbo Engagement List vary slightly (slightly) from one Igbo village to another.
Now, let’s get right into it – the customary gifts a groom is required to present to his future in-laws as part of the Igbo traditional marriage rites. They are 4 categories of gifts, by the way.
#1: Gifts for the Umu Ada (Igbo Traditional Engagement List Items)
In English, umu-ada means daughters. In this case, the gifts for the ‘umu ada’ would be shared among all the grown daughters in the bride’s extended family.
- Wrappers (George or Abada/ Ankara – brands such as Vlisco Hollandais, ABC English wax, Hitarget wax, super wax, Nigerian Wax, etc.)
- Igbo-style lace blouses
- Igbo Ichafu scarfs, also known as Gele headties (assorted styles and colours)
- Shoes and bags (assorted designs and colours)
- Jewellery (wrist watches, earrings, necklaces and rings in either gold, silver, gold plated/ GL)
- Toiletries (bath soaps, body creams, washing detergents, perfumes and so on)
- Drinks (malt and soft drinks)
- Lump-sum cash gift
#2: Gifts for the Umunna (Igbo Engagement List)
The items in this category will be shared among the men/ heads of the extended family of the bride-to-be.
- Kola nuts
- Palm wine (in gallons/ jerry cans)
- Bottles of hot drinks
- Cartons of assorted drinks (malt, soft drinks and beer)
- Tobacco snuff
- Cigarettes (rolls)
- Goat (1)
- Lump-sum cash gift
#3: General Gifts (Nmepe Uzo)
Translating to the English language, “nmepe uzo’ or ‘Imepe Uzo’ means ‘to open the door’.
- Bride price – Negotiable
- Cartons of star brand of beer (2)
- Cartons of Guinness stout (2)
- Cartons of malt (2)
- Crates of soft drinks (6)
- Bottles of hot drinks/whiskey (3)
- Tubers of yam (30)
- Bags of rice (2)
- Bags of salt (2)
- Onions (30)
- Palm oil (one 10 or 25 liters gallon)
- Groundnut oil (25 liters)
- Kerosene (1 gallon)
- Stockfish (1 basin)
- Meat – goat leg (2)
- Bread (25 loaves)
- Tins of Tomatoes (1 carton)
- Tins of Milk (1 carton)
- Tablet soap bars (1 carton)
- Talc face powder – big size: Saturday night powder or morning rose powder (20)
- Tobacco snuff (20 heads)
- Cigarettes (10 packets)
- Big basins (2)
- 5 sets of (George or Abada such as Vlisco Hollandais, super wax, HiTarget, ABC, Nigerian Wax, George)
- Igbo style lace blouses (2)
- Igbo Ichafu scarfs/ Gele headtie (2)
- Wristwatches (2 or more)
- Gold necklaces (2 or more)
- Large suitcase (1)
- Lamp / Lantern (1)
- Umbrella (3)
#4: Cash Gifts (During the Ime-Ego/ Bride Price Ceremony)
These are symbolic cash gifts – the groom and his family may negotiate each one down. These include:
- Money to bring down the pot from the fire (in Igbo: ego nfotu ite) – N1,000
- Money to open the wine keg (ego ncha kishi udu or in some Igbo dialects, ego nkwupu udu) – N1,000
- Money for in-laws (ego ogo cherem) – N50,000 (Ogo cherem literally means ‘in-law, wait for me. One of our readers, Chinelo, says it also means ‘the money my in-laws presented to me’).
- Money for maternity bill (ego maternity) – N1,000
- Money for the village chief (ego onye eze) – N1,500
- Lump-sum cash (ogwe ego) – N5,000
How Much Will My Igbo Engagement List Cost?
The total cost of buying all the items in your Igbo traditional marriage list is what it will cost you, and the amount to budget. The only way to find out is to take that list to the market and ask for prices. Add up all the costs to get the totals.
Since the price of items in Nigeria differs from place to place, it will not be correct to quote any particular bulk price as the general cost of an Igbo traditional engagement list.
To estimate how much your traditional marriage, add up the cost of the engagement list items with catering cost (food and drinks) at the marriage introduction/ traditional wedding.
When is the Right Time to Present the Igbo Engagement List and Go For the Marriage Introduction?
If your girlfriend said yes to your marriage proposal, the next thing is to take your marriage proposal to her family, her parents first. In Igbo customs, this initial marriage proposal/ introductory rite is known as ‘iku aka’ (literal meaning: knock on the door).
You’ll first have to go alone to her parents and then take your family to see her bigger family (her parents and extended family). After the groom and his family receive a positive response from the bride’s family.
They will also receive ‘a list’ of the next steps to enable them to do a budget and prepare for the customary Igbo traditional marriage ceremony. That list is the bride price and engagement list.
As part of Igbo custom, to marry an Igbo lady, a groom-to-be is expected to ask and receive the consent and blessings of the bride-to-be’s parents as well as her extended family.
Once they all give their consent, the groom can then proceed to complete the rest of the traditional marriage rites, which includes: the bride price payment (ime ego) with a presentation of the engagement list, and the formal traditional wedding party (the Igba Nkwu).
Photo Credit: Getty