Muslim themed wedding ceremonies tend to be on the shorter side, but, the reception can be quite a lavish affair that stretches across the span of several days. While everyone has their own family traditions and personal way of celebrating their reception, there are a few rituals that find their place in just about any Muslim wedding party. For example, since the color green is considered as being quite a lucky hue in Islam, most receptions are centered around a green setting to bring good luck and prosperity to the newlywed couple.So, here are some of the most popular highlights of a Muslim wedding reception.
Also known as the unveiling part of the ceremony, the “Imam Zamin” is the part where the couple sits on a well-decorated elevated platform for the groom to remove the bride’s veil. In India and Pakistan, the bride isn’t allowed to display her face until she’s officially a married woman. The public gesture of the groom unveiling his bride’s face for the first time is considered as one of the most romantic moments of the post-wedding ceremony.
Afterwards, the groom’s parents and relatives line up in front of the elevated platform to present the bride with various types of presents such as sweets, silk and jewelry. The bride’s mother in law also ties a single golden coin wrapped in a silk cloth around her arm for good luck.
The ‘Walima’ is the feasting section of the ceremony, where the newlyweds and all the guests gather around several buffet tables laden with food. From ‘biryanis’ to tagines, hummus and pita dips, rice, fish, lamb and chicken, Muslim receptions are certainly oozing with exotic delicacies. Fertility-inducing dishes, as well as food considered as aphrodisiacs are often served as well and these include almonds and dates.
Because of some Arabic dietary restrictions, shellfish and alcohol are not served during the Walima and the guests toast with some alcohol-free champagne instead.
The Parade of the Muslim Bride
Muslim brides often change out of their bridal attire after signing the wedding contract. They usually show up at the reception in elaborate and heavily-decorated dresses and are paraded around the room to meet all the guests. In some cases, the bride is even carried over some of the guests’ shoulders and paraded around the room to meet everyone. The ceremony officially ends when the bride is finally placed back on her feet.
Muslim weddings are always full of age-old rituals and traditions which the couple has to follow both prior to and after the ceremony. Rich in customs, colors, music and food, these weddings will definitely enthrall any guest. Every Muslim wedding is different, with each family trying to incorporate its own tradition in the special day. For example, while some brides choose to don a traditional white dress, others like to deck up in sequined oriental clothes for their wedding. One ritual which is present in every single Muslim household, however, is the prayer session which is held right before the “Nikkah”, or marriage ceremony.
Indeed, Muslim weddings usually open with a plethora of rituals which are thought to bring prosperity, luck and joy to both the bride and the groom. So, read on to families yourself with the various pre-wedding rituals that usually accompany Muslim weddings.
In Pakistan, elderly male relatives often visit the groom to watch him take a purifying bath on the eve of the wedding. Brides on the other hand, are accompanied to the boathouse by female relatives. Wealthier families also hire a troop of dancers and musicians to serenade the bride during her ritual bath.
Egyptian Muslim brides usually take a bath in water drawn from the Nile prior to their wedding because this water is considered to be extremely purifying. In Saudi Arabia, a team of female relatives usually help the bride get ready for her special day by bathing and waxing her.
Like Hindu pre-wedding rituals, Muslim families also hold a “Mehndi” Party where the bride’s hands, arms and legs are adorned with henna. This is usually held among lavish celebrations where everyone dances to wedding-related songs. Instead of a band, elderly female relatives usually gather around to sing traditional and folkloric songs during the henna application. In Muslim cultures, henna is thought to bring good luck to the bride while protecting her from any evil eye. Not unlike the customary Western Bridal shower, guests often bring various presents of silk, food, jewelry and other ornaments for the bride.
The “Gae Halud” or Turmeric Ceremony
In some- but not all- Muslim families, a special Turmeric Ceremony is held either one day or a few hours before the wedding. Traditionally known as the “Gae Halud Ceremony”, this pre-wedding ritual opens with the groom’s mother sliding a single gold bracelet up the bride’s wrist to signify her acceptance in the family. Afterwards, the bride sits on an ornately decorated stage and various relatives line up to apply a touch of turmeric to her face. This particular spice is thought to purify and polish the skin, hence beautifying the bride for the big day. A sweet rice-based dessert is separately fed to both the bride and the groom after the ceremony.
Muslim-theme weddings are one of the most diverse and flexible ceremonies. Indeed, not one ceremony is exactly the same, which leaves the bride with a wide variety of dress options. In fact, Muslim bridal attires usually vary according to region and family traditions. It should therefore come as no surprise that some brides choose to get married in simple white dresses while others don elaborate green, red, gold, orange or even black attires.
In more religious countries like Pakistan, brides are usually decked in traditionally Oriental Indo-Muslim attires which consist of a red sari and lots of gold jewelry. Henna patterns are painted on the hands, legs and feet a couple of days prior to the wedding and this tradition is found in nearly all Muslim weddings, even if the bride chooses to go for a more laid-back affair.
On the other hand, Muslim brides who come from more flexible and less religious families often choose to don an Occidental white dress on their wedding day and several of them also go without the traditional headdress or hijab. While most ladies commonly opt for loose-flowing dresses, contemporary brides can wear figure-hugging, mermaid dresses, but this is quite a rare occurrence.
In more religious families, the hijab is an integral part of the bride’s wedding attire. While this headgear is often black and simple in everyday life, Muslim brides often go for more elaborate styles of hijab for their wedding days. Hence, if you want to infuse a Muslim theme on your special day, don’t hesitate to decorate your hijab with pearls, sequins or diamante. For a more striking look, you can even go for a shiny satin or velvet fabric and wear it in the form of a turban.
As far as the white dress goes, it can either be simple and elegant or elaborate and frilly. In fact, some Muslim families strive for simplicity and in such cases, the bride is usually adorned in a plain albeit sophisticated gown made in satin or taffeta. Even if modern ladies choose to go for the typical strapless gowns, traditional Muslim bridal dresses are usually floor-length, high-necked and long-sleeved. Some ladies also refrain from showing their wrists and hands and in such cases, they can don satiny gloves for a shimmery effect.
Of course, there are some brides who are more liberal and hence opt for the classic white dresses without hijabs. In families where the headgear is a must, some stylish ladies often arrange a shimmery scarf on their head.
Planning a Muslim-themed wedding? Expect food, lots of good food and oodles of lavish rituals and celebrations. And well, an elegant bridal dress and loads of glitzy opulent jewelry. And oh yeah, eggs. Lots of them. Eggs are presented to the couple as a sign of fertility —that’s how the guests congratulate the bride and groom. In some Muslim weddings, an egg is broken during the reception to symbolize luck for the couple.
Most Muslim weddings have deep purple or shades of purple as their wedding color motif. Maybe because purple symbolizes royalty. A classic and stylish combination would be purple and white or magenta and white.
A Muslim bride will definitely look regal and lovely in an elegant lace mermaid Muslim wedding dress with a pinkish hue or a long sleeved gown with a high neckline or an exquisite stomacher neck. Usually after the ceremony, the bride changes into another kind of elaborate gown prettified with pearls and gold and jewels. At the end of the celebration, expect the bride to be held in the air like a queen until she is returned to the arms of her groom.
Make sure the shutterbugs are ready, as the bride puts her henna on. Ensure that the bride has done the necessary scrubbing and waxing needed before henna application. Make sure the nails have been painted as well. Applying henna on the bride is a tedious process but will surely bring delight. Just be careful not to smudge the henna all over the bride.
As soon as the ceremony ends, the feast begins with the walima – a wedding celebration that sometimes lasts for two full days. This is when the oodles of food start rolling and oh the candy-covered almonds and other sweets.
In some Muslim weddings, the mother of the groom presents the bride with sweets. The bride is usually veiled; this is the time when she may show her face. Then the mother of the groom ties an imam zamin — a gold coin wrapped in silk — around the bride’s right arm as a symbol of prosperity.
After the feast, a thin piece of cloth is placed over the couple. Underneath the sheet, the bride and the groom share sips of spicy yogurt – borhani. Then the couple looks at the mirror and affirms a romantic declaration to each other and to the people. Then they exchange flower garlands. In recent times, the custom of exchanging of rings has been added up to the rite.