How to Blend American & Nigerian Cultures in a Wedding

by Sydelle John

Blending two different cultures during a wedding is a tricky feat due to the pressure to recognize both families while still creating a unique occasion. In the case of an American-Nigerian wedding, things are no different. Wedding planning is difficult enough and cultural expectations complicate matters. For those in this predicament, there are simple ways to infuse Nigerian culture into the average American wedding so as to create a ceremony that is one-of-a-kind and memorable for all.

Step 1

Conduct a traditional Nigerian wedding by bringing all parents, family elders, relatives and friends from both sides to bless the upcoming union. It should be held before the church ceremony and requires kola nut, which can be procured at an African store, food and beverages. During the event, the bride must get on her knees and feed the groom some food or serve him a drink.

Step 2

Serve Nigerian dishes in addition to other American dishes during the cocktail hour after the Christian wedding. These include sweet puff puff balls made from fried dough and small pieces of spicy Suya meat on toothpicks. Bissap, a sweet red drink made from the roselle plant, should also be offered.

Step 3

Entertain guests at the reception with a Nigerian dance troupe that performs prior to the arrival of the newlywed couple. Additionally, the Nigerian’s family members may enter the reception hall in matching attire singing a celebratory praise song in their language to commemorate the union.

Step 4

Recognize Nigerian culture by wearing traditional Nigerian outfits and jewelry at some point during the reception. The couple, their parents and friends should also don Nigerian attire. A traditional dance by the bride and her bridesmaids will entertain guests and be memorable.

Step 5

Play Nigerian as well as American music during the reception party. Invite a Nigerian band that plays both traditional and contemporary music to entertain. Spray the bride by making money fall from her head to her feet while she dances all night.

Step 6

Include Nigerian food on the menu either as appetizers, an entree or dessert. Appetizers include slivers of spicy meat over greens, while the entree menu should include red jollof rice with vegetables. For dessert, ice cream served with intricately designed Chin Chin treats (a fried dough snack) will suffice.

Tips

  • Weddings are very important to Nigerians and Nigerian families expect their culture to not only be recognized during a wedding ceremony but throughout the course of the marriage. The traditional Nigerian wedding, while foreign to Americans, is crucial and some believe that a Nigerian is not truly married until the ceremony is performed. For the Nigerian food, enlist Nigerian in-laws to prepare the dishes in order to cut down on cost and bring the new families together.

Warnings

  • When including Nigerian food in a wedding that includes non-Nigerian guests, be sure that the food is not too spicy. Remind the preparers to make food for those with a less accustomed palate.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

Sydelle John is a lawyer who started writing professionally in 2007. She has written for the Guardian's Comment is Free and Pambazuka News, which focuses on pan-African issues. John has a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Vassar College.