Good morning people. Hope you are enjoying the bank holiday weekend!
Today I thought I’d showcase the beautiful wedding attire worn by West Africans. Each piece has its own special name depending on each country, and it is common to wear particular fabrics and outfits for specific ceremonies. Do read on and enjoy the rich and bold colours along with the vibrant patterns of African Wedding Attire!
Clothes of the Family
Aso ebi [Nigerian and pronounced asho-eybee] or Aschobi [Sierra Leonean and pronounced asho-bee] means clothes of the family in English. These outfits are made from matching fabric and are to be worn by the bride and groom’s close relatives and friends. It shows support for the celebrants and wearing a specific aso ebi/ aschobi sets apart the two families. For example, all the bride’s family and friends might wear green and gold while the groom’s might wear red and gold.
Aso oke fabric
The Aso ebi/ Aschobi fabric is called Aso oke [ah-shaw-oh-kay] and is a hand loomed cloth woven by the Yoruba people of south west Nigeria. It is typically chosen by the bride, and once the material has been finalised guests are informed months in advance so they can purchase theirs and have it prepared by a tailor. Some close friends and family members are given the aso ebi/ aschobi as a gift. When it comes to colour selection, no colour is out of bounds! Coral, gold, purple, green, blue, red, name a colour and it’s available.
Bride and groom evening attire
In the later period of the wedding reception the bride and groom change into their aso oke. For the bride this consists of an Iro [i-row] or Lappa [La-pah] – a wrapper skirt, Buba [boo-bah] – a blouse, Ikpele [ip-ay-lay] – a shawl worn on one shoulder and Gele [gay-lay] – a head tie. Along with this, the bride will wear stunning pieces of jewellery that compliment her outfit.
For the groom their traditional attire consists of a Buba [boo-bah] – a shirt, Sokoto [show-kow-to] – a pair of trousers, Agbada [Ah-gba-dah] – a wide sleeved robe worn over the shirt and usually worn to the ankles, and a Fila [fee-lah] – a hat.
I love this post here on Nigerian Wedding showcasing some aso oke
Another choice of clothing that wedding guests can wear is Ankara [Ann-kah-rah]. This is very popular with the younger guests of the wedding and is more affordable than the aso oke fabric. Again, the bride will select the fabric and those who would like to support the celebrants will purchase their material and have it tailored made into a style that suits them. Ankara is so popular now that it has made its way into mainstream fashion and has celebrities such as Beyonce and Gwen Stefani rocking theirs in their own individual styles.
Some wedding planning tips around selecting aso oke fabric……..
When selecting your aso oke bear in mind the theme for your wedding. You want your fabric to coordinate with your chosen colours and not stick out like a sore thumb. From experience I would advise all brides to be to firstly pick their reception venue. Once this is decided, it should then make it easy for you to select your colour palette or theme e.g., if your venue is a chic city hotel with crystal chandeliers and gold and ivory colour accents it would make sense to stay within these shades and decor theme, than to clash with uncomplimentary colours. Finally, once the colour palette has been decided you can then begin the search for your aso oke that now compliments your venue and colour scheme! As mentioned before, aso oke fabric comes in hundreds of shades and patterns, so it shouldn’t be too difficult finding something that matches.