You receive an invitation to a Nigerian wedding and are probably wondering what to expect. One thing that will definitely stand out is how colorful the ceremony is, which stems from the combination of the décor and matching guest outfits. Yes matching outfits!
The act of wearing matching outfits is called Aso Ebi, which means “Family Clothe” and as the name implies, families and friends of the bride and groom show solidarity by purchasing matching fabric tailored to their individual style. Aso Ebi is mainly worn for weddings but for any number of grand events.
When I consulted with Bolatito, an Aso Ebi specialist, to inquire about its significance today, she said, “Aso Ebi means different things to different people. However, it generally is believed to be the first thing that signifies the colors of an event . . . colors are life and Aso Ebi is the live wire of most events. Aso Ebi also means a way for people to show support for a celebration; more recently, Aso Ebi depicts style . . . today’s brides are really concerned about how their friends view their event which translates to the kind of fabric they pick.”
It is safe to say Aso Ebi as we know it today is here to stay. It brings style and color to a ceremony. Although it is a Yoruba word, other cultures indulge in the beautiful festival of family color solidarity. Hence, Aso Ebi is a great means of showcasing different cultures in the country and inspires pride in traditional attire. Therefore, if you ever get invited to a Nigerian wedding for the first time, ask about Aso Ebi so you can fully experience the beauty of wearing matching outfits.
Note: The author chose to leave out the challenges surrounding Aso Ebi, which includes the mark up in fabric prices in order to make profit and the underlying segregation that may occur between those are wearing Aso Ebi from those that are not. The author is aware of these challenges and believes they should be addressed; however, this article seeks only to showcase the beauty of Aso Ebi.
Special thanks to Ike Tori Ade, Ibinabo Oyibo, Professor Dipo Salami, Funmi Akinsola and Bolatito of Bolakoka Aso Ebi for their contribution to this piece. I appreciate the information and feedback you provided.