This blog has talked before about West African bridal attire… but what about clothes for the guests? West African wedding fashions are as bright and beautiful for those attending the happy event as friends, family and well-wishers as for those at the heart of the ceremony. Whether you’re attending a West African-style wedding or planning one, it helps to know what options you have available. Luckily you have two major choices; on the one hand, there’s Ankara (a more modern, affordable type of wedding garment) and on the other there’s Aso Ebi (also known as Aschobi), which is more traditional and expensive.
Ankara is highly popular among wedding guests from younger generations due to its more modern style and relatively inexpensive pricing. It’s even made a splash in mainstream western fashion, with catwalk models showing off the beautiful West African designs. At West African weddings where Ankara is used, it is usually the role of the bride to select the fabric: guests can then obtain their material and have it made into garments to suit them. This element of customisation makes each Ankara garment truly unique and expressive. Ankara wedding clothes also tend to be very bright and colourful, lending an additional vibrancy to any celebration they’re used in.
Aso Ebi garments, meanwhile, are made from a special fabric called ‘Aso Oke’ and are traditional in multiple countries in the western region of the African continent. The hand-made cloth is more expensive and harder to obtain than that used in Ankara outfits (genuine Aso Oke is only made by the Yoruba of Nigeria), though there’s no denying that it’s gorgeous quality makes the mark-up worthwhile. Aso Ebi wedding clothes are traditionally worn in matching sets by the family and close friends of both the bride and groom. Often, the groom’s party will have one unifying design for their set while the bride’s will have another, making them easily distinguishable. As with Ankara outfits, the choice of colour and style available are varied and vivid.
Of course, you don’t have to choose between Aso Ebi and Ankara garments if you don’t want to. It’s entirely legitimate for both to feature at the same wedding. In fact, combining the different options in new and interesting ways can lead to effervescent new styles.
Whether you choose to focus on one type of garment or find ways to combine them, West African wedding fashions have something truly unique to offer. It’s always worth experimenting with the ingenious range of styles available!