Sunday, May 29, 2011

Arabic Wedding Traditions

I know it all when it comes to American Wedding Customs. I even know a lot about the way Europeans tie the knot, but I have very little experience when it comes to Middle Eastern Weddings. It's a bit shameful to admit, considering that my father and future husband are both Palestinian. So in honor of the two men in my life, I would like to learn all I can about Arab wedding customs. 

My aim is to incorporate as many Middle Eastern traditions as possible, while still retaining the image of my wedding that I've had in my mind since I was a little girl.
Here are a few traditions that MW and I will be following...

1. The Enormous Engagement Party- It is customary in the Middle East that the Bride's family throw a huge engagement party for the couple. This party is very similar to the actual wedding, the difference being that the bride wears any dress she chooses. It is traditional to serve a rose-water drink called sharbat, like the one below.

2. Katb el-Kitab (The Marriage Contract)- This is where the bride and groom are officially married in the eyes of God. It can be held in a Mosque, or in the Bride's home. It starts with a Sheikh/Imam saying a few words from the Quran. The groom then repeats the speech and and the father of the bride accepts. Two witnesses sign their names to the marriage contract, and the couple is now officially married. This can happen anytime before the wedding day.

3. Henna Party- This is the Arab version of a bachelorette party. All the women go to the bride's home and a henna artist comes to paint designs on the bride and her guests. There is always food, drinks and dancing. At my Henna Party I would love to invite a belly dancer to come and teach me and my girls some moves.

4. Zaffa (Wedding Entrance)- The bride and groom enter the wedding with a processional of dancers, drummers and/or arabic singers. Talk about a grand entrance!

5. Cutting the Cake with a Sword- I saw this for the first time at a wedding in Jordan when I was only three years old. I think it makes what is usually a boring part of the wedding a little more fun! Below is a photo of Queen Rania of Jordan cutting the cake with a sword on her wedding day.

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