West African Wedding Attire – Beautiful Fabric and Colours

Good morning people. Hope you all had a great 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 materials and outfits for specific ceremonies. Do read on and enjoy the rich and bold colours along with the vibrant patterns!

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 ebi

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.

West African wedding attire_aso oke_aso ebi_aschobi

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 matching jewellery that compliment her outfit.

West African wedding attire_aso oke_bride 1

The beautiful coral bead jewellery is a popular choice among brides

West African wedding attire_aso oke_bride and groom

Bride and groom in matching Aso Oke

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.

West African wedding attire_groom_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 Lady Gaga rocking theirs in their own individual styles.

west african wedding_ ankara styles

ankara fashion styles

Ankara on the catwalk

So there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. As you can see there are endless possibilities when it comes to fabric and colour in West African Weddings. No wedding can ever be the same….


Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


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