Here Comes the Bride Nigerian Weddings: Money and Marriage in a Massive African Economy (PHOTOS)
Lavish marriage ceremonies for thousands of guests display an oil-rich nation’s rising clout. From ‘little brides’ to ‘spraying,’ check out the wedding-day fun in Glenna Gordon’s gorgeous photographs from Lagos.
Groom Shadrach Uchenna, a wedding photographer, and his bride, Ekpo Peace Emem, sit at the front of a banquet hall during their wedding as guests greet them on October 27, 2012, in Lagos, Nigeria. Weddings in Nigeria are not private affairs, they are public displays. The music is loud, the jollof rice is plentiful, and the festivities go on for hours. Everyone is invited, and those who aren’t come anyway. (All photos by
Bride Temitope Caulker poses with her bridesmaids, who, in typical Nigerian fashion, wear outfits that match the decor of the wedding hall. The wedding industry in petrol-rich Nigeria is big business.
When the pastor of a megachurch in a slum in Lagos got married on April 28, his bride arrived in a yellow Hummer. No matter how much money they have—rich, poor, and in between—everyone shows off and spends more than they should.
A hostess at a large and high-end wedding in Lagos wears a dress tailored from the same fabric that is used to decorate the chairs. Lagos, Nigeria. October 20, 2012.
Guests at a wedding in Lagos await the start of the ceremony and lunch.
A "little bride" is a common feature at most Nigerian weddings instead of a flower girl.
An opulent wedding for nearly 1,000 guests was held at the banquet hall of a private housing estate in Lagos, Nigeria, on January 19. A wedding with thousands of guests is one way to visualize just how big Nigeria's economy is: 160 million people live in Nigeria, which boasts the second-highest GDP in Africa. In Nigeria, money trickles down from the 2.5 million barrels of crude oil produced per day by the Oil and Gas people, government jobs come with a steady paycheck and endless opportunities to embezzle, and the rich here are richer than most people outside Nigeria could ever imagine.
Waiters clean up after a large wedding in a Lagos suburb.
Guests gather outside a church in Jos, in central Nigeria, just before a wedding on April 20, 2013.
A wedding photographer snaps a northern bride with her husband and brother at a ceremony in Kano, Nigeria, on April 6, 2013.
A disaembled cake is brought to a wedding in Lagos, Nigeria, on April 28, 2013.
A bridesmaid collects "spray"—naira notes thrown at the couple as they dance. While spraying is technically illegal and considered an abuse of currency by the Nigerian government, the practice is common. Dutiful bridesmaids run around collecting the spray before naughty children can get to it.
Waiters collect plates of food to bring to wedding guests at a wedding in the Lagos City Hall on April 27, 2013.
The mother of the bride always chooses "mommy lace," a fabric all her friends will purchase and have tailored into dresses they wear to the wedding. Lagos, Nigeria. December 26, 2012.
Dancing at Nigerian weddings can go on for hours. Lagos, Nigeria. November 3, 2012.
A man dances at the lady's part of the wedding in Jos, Nigeria, on April 19, 2013. In northern Nigeria, most weddings are celebrated by women and men separately, except for the occasional guest.
A groomsman "sprays" money at the bride and groom at a wedding in Lagos, Nigeria. "Spraying" is the throwing of small (and sometimes large) money at the bride and groom. October 20, 2012.
Women ascend to the head table at a wedding in Jos, Nigeria, on April 19, 2013.
A chicken runs around a bridal tent at a wedding in the Yaba area of Lagos.