The “Vows” section of the Sunday New York Times has published a lengthy, friendly, and good humored story about a traditional Yoruba and traditional Igbo wedding in Houston, Texas. The article is accompanied by seven photographs that feature the costumes of the bride, groom, and wedding party. A focus of the story is on the importance of fabrics used at a traditional Yoruba wedding and there is an extensive description of the various types of dress. Further, as is traditional among the Yoruba, the wedding couple pay for the matching dress of family and friends. As is also typical among the Yoruba, the guest list numbers in the hundreds, a hold-over from Yorubaland (and elsewhere in Nigeria) where life events include the entire community.
The story is also a window into one of the most successful immigrant groups in contemporary America. Nigerians, particularly those from the Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups, have higher levels of education and income than native born Americans. Many of them can well afford to keep Yoruba customs, which are not inexpensive. A Nigerian wedding planner in Houston reports that her clients typically spend between one hundred and three hundred thousand dollars per wedding. This is less, however, than the Nigerian communities in New York, Baltimore, and Atlanta will need to pay. Another reports that her Nigerian clients are medical doctors, engineers, and oil contractors. In the Times report, the groom is a medical doctor and the bride has just completed pharmacy school.
The bride commented, “Nigerian weddings are full of color, vibrant, and are flashy…without your fabrics, you’re not having a traditional Nigerian wedding.” The United States is a nation of immigrants and its diversity is a source of its strength. The Nigerian-American community is contributing a new and welcome thread to the fabric of American life.