Explainer: Difference between Dowry and Bride Price


• Did you know that you have been defining dowry the wrong way? it is not what you thought it was.

Dowry x marriage
Image: Courtesy

I just found out that dowry and bride price are two different things, I have always been thinking that both are given to the bride's family but it's all wrong.

I know that I am not alone in this one, let me take you through the facts;

•Dowry is a payment made by the bride's family to the groom during marriage. It may be in the form of property or money.

The dowry is offered especially if the man was to leave near his parent's home. The dowry is the one that would help in sustaining his family after marriage.

In Roman times it was a sign of the bride's willingness to contribute to the costs of moving into a new household. 

We Africans might not know much about it because it is rarely practiced in our countries. Dowry payment is mostly practiced in Europe and Asian countries and some North African countries.

Dowry is most common in nations with inadequate male-biased inheritance laws and patrilineal societies, which expect women to live with or near their husbands' families.

•Bride price is the exact opposite of dowry, it is a payment that is done by the groom to the bride's family. It is also in the form of money or property.

Both the payments are done according to the terms and conditions of both families, it is not just a particular price.

The bride price is given to the bride's family as compensation to her family for the loss of their labor. In ancient times, women were considered as a form of labor in the family.

What is more is interesting to note that once a bride price is paid, the man cannot receive a refund if he decides to take another wife. However, if the father of the bride opposes the match, a refund may be given.

Did you also know that back then the father of the bride was entitled to refund the bride price if his daughter died without bearing a son? Yes, it happened.

Another thing is that in African communities if the bride price or the dowry is not paid on time then the marriage will not take place until it is paid.

African cultures aside let me take you on some amazing facts about dowry and bride prices in other countries;

In Thailand; The bride price may range from nothing if the woman is divorced, has a child fathered by another man, or is widely known to have had premarital relations with men.

For a highly educated woman, social standing, and beauty queen their prices range from 300, 000dollars which is approximately 45,555,000 in Kenyan Shillings.

China: The bride price to them is cited as goodwill between the families and the groom should pay more than the bride's side demand. This is done so as to save the face of the groom.

•There is also another payment that you probably didn't know about which is known as dower which is mostly practiced by the Islam community. This is a payment that is made by the groom to the bride herself. It stays under her control and ownership.

It is considered as compensation for the bride in case her husband divorces her or he is unable to provide and sustain her in the future.

It is also for the bride to be able to provide for herself in case the husband chooses to practice polygamy because it is common and allowed in Islamic religion.

Check out the latest news here and you are welcome to join our super exclusive Mpasho WhatsApp group for all the latest and breaking news in entertainment. We would also like to hear from you, WhatsApp us on +254 736 944935.