Real Weddings

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gele: The Other Crown

When a West African Bride dons her traditional wear, it would not be complete without her Gele. It is the equivalent of a wedding cake without a topper (or some other ornate piece) and just seems…Incomplete. On the Bride, the Gele is worn during her engagement ceremony/ Traditional wedding and during the second introduction of the Bride and Groom (In traditional attire) at the reception. The New couple are royalty of the day and the Gele is her crown.
So What Is A Gele?
Gele is the Yoruba word for (A woman’s) Head wrap.  In the Igbo culture it is called Ichafu.
It is a large rectangular cloth tied on a woman’s head in a variety of fashions.  The material used to make the gele is usually of a stiff, but flexible, nature e.g. Aso-oke (thickly woven silk), Brocade (cotton) and Damask. These materials come in a wide array of colors, patterns and textures.  The bigger the cloth (and the greater the skill) the more elaborate the look.
Gele tying is an Art form that takes practice, patience and often times a well-toned arm, but once tied, a Gele can make any woman look regal. Every Gele is unique and there is no true formula to achieve the exact look twice. If you take a closer look, you will see that no two Geles (once tied) are alike.
We absolutely love Gele’s because not only are they tied in various styles but they are an aspect of culture that make women feel beautiful no matter the occasion. The style and color of the Gele can be a reflection of your mood, style or personality. Creativity is key ;-)

1. Since Geles are such glamorous statement pieces, the should be complemented (not over shadowed) with the right amount of jewelry and make up. TOO much of either can be overwhelming.
2. Gele tend to draw attention to the face, expecially the eyes, so having well groomed/shaped eyebrows, and flawless makeup are a huge plus.
3. If you cannot tie the piece yourself, ask a friend to help. 
4. Make use of Bobby and Safety pins to achieve a desired style. 

Here are a few breath taking Gele looks…

 Photos Courtesy of 
Ade Adetayo Photography 
Pink Diamonds


  1. Such beautiful brides!

  2. Gele is part of our culture in Nigeria especially with the Yoruba and Igbo tribe not just for our traditional wedding but makes the difference in our fashion. Gele gives the final touch to our Nigerian fashion. the beauty of it is that you can use different fabric for it even Ankara not to talk of Asooke and Damask and the specially made fabric called Gele made from Swiss, S/korea and even in China.
    I am glad that it is still part of of us outside the country.